Pensacola FC Beat Utah Royals Reserves 4-3 to Become the 2019 WPSL Champions
The Women’s Premier Soccer League is known all across America as a proving ground. Many famous Women’s World Cup stars have played in the WPSL, including household names such as Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach, Megan Rapinoe, Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain. In fact, 28 WPSL alumni earned roster spots in the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
A final match that that will be long remembered — it was an intense back and forth final between longtime WPSL team Pensacola FC and newcomer Utah Royals FC Reserves (URFC) in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPLS) 2019 Championship Final.
“The 2019 WPSL Championship weekend was unbelievable. We had everything — an amazingly balanced and highly competitive set of semifinals and final with four talented teams and three 1 goal matches, with one ending in PK’s, and the final with a late equalizer and then a late game-winning goal in an absolutely beautiful setting at Neal Patterson Stadium on the campus of Oklahoma State University,” said Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) President Sean Jones. “It was truly a fitting way to cap off an amazing season of great women’s soccer.”
This was the WPSL’s 22nd season with more than 100 clubs from coast-to-coast competing for the title of champion.
Clearly showcasing the two teams talents and their players’ dedication, the 2019 WPSL Championship was won by Pensacola FC when Mollie Rouse set up Briana Morris’ championship-winning goal in the 118th minute in extra time on Sunday.
A long game played in tremendous heat, the scoring and equalizing was more prominent than either team leading.
This was the Utah Royal Reserves’ inaugural season and they opened up the scoring in the first half when Mikayla Colohan found the back of the net. At halftime, the Royal’s were leading 1-0 but Pensacola came out of halftime determined to lift the trophy.
Top goal scorer for Pensacola, Morris also opened the scoring for the club just three minutes into the second half and then the battle was on for the WPSL title.
A stream of goals and equalizing moments ended in a 4-3 victory for Florida’s team, which proudly claimed its second WPSL Championship.
“The WPSL Final was an incredible match with tactical changes, relentless goal-scoring, almost going to PKs and Brianna scoring in the final minutes was amazing,” said David Kemp, Head Coach for Pensacola FC.
“The greatest moment was when the final whistle blew.”David Kemp, Head Coach for Pensacola FC
A perennial power in the WPSL, Pensacola FC’s won in 2012 before it changed its name from the Gulf Coast Texans. Pensacola finished as finalists in 2017 and 2018 and this was the club’s fifth time in the Final Four in the past seven years.
This year, Pensacola FC came to the Final Four looking to claim the Jerry Zanelli Cup and reach the WPSL Championship. This was their third consecutive trip to the WPSL Final.
“Pensacola FC is known for developing teams which have strong chemistry and excellent camaraderie as well as its terrific coaching. It would not surprise me if Pensacola was back in the WPSL Final Four next year with a completely different set of players,” said Jones.
The Florida club closed out the 2019 season undefeated with a 12-0-0 record.
“Pensacola FC is a model for what can be accomplished in a small market.”Sean Jones, WPSL President
“We put everything on that field, especially those last minutes,” Morris told WPSL after the final match. “I knew that we were all tired, and it was up to me in those last minutes to just take it. There was no other way.”
“I am incredibly proud of the team,” said Kemp. “The entire WPSL Championship was a tremendous event with a great game day timeline, beautiful trophies and medals plus great social media coverage. The WPSL is really keeping pace with what’s current, pushing out content on mobile where we are all looking for
“Everything this weekend has been so professional — such a difference this year.”David Kemp, Head Coach for Pensacola FC
“The 2019 WPSL Championship was everything we could have asked for and the quality of play, the energy and commitment of the players, the shifts in momentum — it was honestly an
“This speaks volumes for our clubs and the level of players, coaches, and owners of teams in the WPSL.”Sean Jones, WPSL President
“We are so proud of the URFC Reserves players and staff for making it to the championship in our inaugural year,” said Stephanie Lee, General Manager Utah Royals FC. “We all entered this season not quite knowing what to expect, and they’ve adapted and grown as players in this League.”
“The match was everything you want in the championship – two quality sides battling it out,” Utah Royals coach Amy LePeilbet said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our team. They played great soccer and gave everything they had until the final whistle.”
“Reaching the WPSL Championship Final is a testament to Utah Royals’ entire organization, from their ownership to the entire coaching staff — the club is focused on growing the women’s game,” said Jones.
“As they advanced to the WPSL Final, the Royal’s adjusted to each opponent’s different style and they never gave up,” said Jones. “They beat Motor City in PKs to advance to reach the final and defeated Fortuna Tulsa by one goal in the Central Region Finals .”
“Our goal was to have as much interaction as possible between the collegiate players and NWSL players,” said Lee. “Our NWSL coaching staff often helped out with URFC Reserves trainings, and several of the URFC Reserves players got the opportunity to attend training sessions with Laura Harvey”.
“For an inaugural season, it went incredibly smooth and no major challenges.”Stephanie Lee, General Manager Utah Royals FC
“The entire Real Salt Lake organization, including the Utah Royals FC, are committed to the development of soccer – from all ages and skill level. Participating in the WPSL with the URFC Reserves was just one step in our goals to positively contribute to the development of women’s soccer in Utah, and our commitment to interact and work together with the colleges within our community,” said Lee.
Leading player development in the Utah area, more than 76% of the URFC Reserves were collegiate players and of the 26 players on the WPSL roster, 19 attended or were currently at a university in the state.
“I do not know why every NWSL team does not have a reserve squad in the WPSL,” said Jones. “Utah is a fantastic club and a great example of how an NWSL team can use the WPSL to develop their players. It is a perfect fit and also provides the opportunity to scout for talented players.”
Jones, Vice President Brad Lund and Vice President DeBray Ayala manage the WPSL, which is the world’s largest women’s league.