WPSL Sunshine Region Kicks Off 2016 Season on Saturday
The WPSL kicks off the 2016 season as teams across the Sunshine Region prepare for another exciting year in the largest women’s professional soccer league. A total of nine teams will make up the region as teams compete to advance to the Division Playoffs hosted by Florida Sol with the WPSL Final Four Championships held in in Columbus, Ohio.
Soccer News: The Sunshine Region is very excited for the 2016 WPSL season which begins play locally on June 4th.
Eight returning teams and one new squad will be competing for a chance to move on to Division Playoffs — hosted by Florida Sol on July 23/24, and the ultimate goal of a trip to the WPSL Final Four Championships in Columbus, Ohio on July 30/31.
The Sunshine Region is part of the South Division which also includes the Southeast (AL, NW FL, TN, GA) and new Carolinas (NC, SC) Regions.
How does the season stack up? Returning 2015 champions, Tampa Bay Hellenic, always fields a quality team and looks to earn the championship for a second year in a row. With the longest history of the Florida teams in the league, they are coached by TBU Girls Director George Fotopoulos who pulls in players from very successful college programs, as well as international players. Senior member and former pro player Stacy Bishop remains the stalwart of the team.Beginning their 5th season Florida Sol from Fleming Island boasts a history of standout players who have moved on to very successful college, national team, and professional careers; Morgan Brian, Christen Westphal & Havana Solaun to name a few.
Coach Luis Torres knows the North Florida soccer scene and puts together quality squads and remains involved in all the player’s careers.
Also in their 5th season Team Boca Blast, an outgrowth of the very successful Team Boca Soccer Club sees returning college players who came up through their youth club ranks and moved on to elite college programs.
Fourth year team FC Surge from Miami is a uniquely player-owned team, started by four young ladies who had played on previous WPSL Florida teams that folded. They field a quality squad every season but feel this year’s group, under the direction of new head coach Ramiro Vengoechea, has the potential to go all the way. Pinellas County United, another 4th year squad is comprised of players raised in their PCU youth club program.
“After great success last year with making the conference finals, we are really exciting about the upcoming season. This will be the year for building on our younger players. I’m very excited as we continue the pathway to our elite performance plan” says Head Coach, Don Tobin.
Florida Krush, a sister team to the men’s NPSL Florida Kraze begins their 3rd season in the league. Coach Hue Menzies knows the central Florida soccer landscape and brings back FKK players he has helped get recruited to very successful college programs along with his current U17/U18 club squads.
Another 3rd year team, Treasure Coast Dynamites based in Port St Lucie is coached by Gaspard Dalexis, former Canadian National Team member. This is his second Women’s advanced team as he started the first women’s semi-pro team in Canada, the Laval Dynamites of the former W-league. He has also served as a Diaspora recruiter for both men and women Haitian National teams and was the former Haitian Women’s National Coach after the 2010 earthquake.
The SouthWest coast of Florida was represented last season with the new Palm City FC squad. Playing at Florida Gulf Coast University they bring in all the best SW Florida college players home for the summer.
The newest team in the Region is Orlando Kicks out of Montverde. Owner and Head Coach Robbie Aristodemo says, “We are excited to be one of the newest members of the WPSL. We wish all the teams a successful summer and we are very excited for the opportunity to compete in the league. Our mission is to help develop younger players looking to gain a competitive advantage in their college season. Being a new side there is a variety of tasks to accomplish.”
“As with any new team, finding players will be the key to the engine running smoothly. We feel for the 2016 summer season we will have a competitive team that will look to play with high intensity,” adds Aristodemo.
“We have some great player signings early in the process; high school standouts Nicole Barnett, Kate Beck, Kayla and Julia Curatolo, while veteran players Kim Reynolds and Sierra Lelii will help give our squad some balance. We have also signed a few college players from different schools in the state of Florida.”
Sunshine Regional Commissioner and South Division Coordinator, Marge Perry — who also serves as the General Manager of the FC Surge urges all soccer fans in Florida to come out and share their passions for soccer and support their local WPSL team. This is the summer to celebrate women’s soccer and enjoy watching the top Women’s Amateur teams in the country. Supporting women’s soccer is important and you never know who the next great soccer star can be … she just might be a college standouts, post-grad alum, or international player sporting a WPSL team jersey.
Source: Women’s Premier Soccer League. Photo Credit: Dayton Dutch Lions