It’s been a long-time coming, but after more than a year hiatus, the Greater Pittsburgh area will not have one, but two clubs, the Pittsburgh Hotspurs and Century United, with teams kicking off play in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) this coming weekend.
The WPSL is an amateur women’s soccer league in the United States and Canada. It is on the second level of women’s soccer in the United States soccer pyramid, below National Women’s Soccer League. Much like men’s leagues in U.S. Soccer pyramid’s fourth division (USL League Two and NPSL), most WPSL clubs are community-based with large portions of their rosters including current and former college players.
On Saturday, Century United begins its first-ever WPSL campaign by hosting the Cleveland Ambassadors at Cool Springs (2 p.m. – LIVE STREAM).
— Century United (@Century_Utd) May 17, 2021
Then the Hotspurs will open its season as they’ll host Cleveland on Sunday at Founders Field, in Indianola (6 p.m.)
Both clubs will officially be making their debut in the WPSL, which previously included one team from Pittsburgh — Steel City FC (2016-2019) — which has transitioned and are now being run by the Pittsburgh Hotspurs.
In the past five years, the Greater Pittsburgh area has seen an influx of soccer clubs which have provided new, competitive opportunities for mostly locally based players looking to play at the highest levels possible in these lower division levels in the U.S. Soccer pyramid. When looking at the rosters from both Century United and Pittsburgh Hotspurs, it’s essentially a who’s who of female soccer players, mostly from the Pittsburgh region, many who are currently playing in college and some who have graduated college.
“We felt like this was the right time to put it together, to put a team on the field and provide an absolutely fantastic experience,” David Gray, General Manager of Century United’s WPSL team.
Century’s United’s head coach for its inaugural WPSL campaign will be Erica Marshall, who, being hired by the club to be Director of Player Development, was elated to be elevated into a position for a club with whom she grew up within as a player and coach.
“It really is a full-circle experience when you have an opportunity to serve in a leadership role for a club you played your youth career,” Marshall, who also serves as a volunteer assistant for the University of Pittsburgh’s women’s team. “I am so excited to work with the high-level coaching staff within the club to help provide an elite development experience for players and their families.”
Century’s facilities in Bethel Park, including Cool Springs Sports Complex and Century Field.
“I think it’s going to be a pretty exciting brand of soccer,” Gray said. “When we’re playing at home, we’re going to want to put on a show. For our young players, we have a lot of good role models from our senior teams to come out and watch.
The Hotspurs, which were originally expected to debut in 2020 before the cancellation of the WPSL season due to COVID-19. One of the few holdovers with the club from its Steel FC origins is Head Coach Tom Overden, who admitted earlier this week that he feels like he’s starting from scratch with this team.
“It does feel more like we’re starting all over again,” Overden stated. “But this is the biggest roster we’ve ever had. It’s never been as big as it is now, but it’s a nice blend.”
Overden said that the Hotspurs have a healthy balance of players who are still in college, along with some who have graduated and about a half-dozen players from their youth academy who are training with them too.
“The biggest thing with this group, will be keeping them engaged. We’ve been training together for a few weeks, but there are still some who haven’t been able to make every practice,” Overden said. “We’re still working through things. It’s been interesting. Getting players used to how we play is one of the biggest challenges.”
Both clubs have built strong enough sized rosters that they’re planning, in addition to first-team schedules in WPSL’s Ohio Valley Conference, to play reserve games through the season too.
With the Pittsburgh area having two WPSL teams, it’s only natural that a rivalry will develop between the two clubs.
The teams will face each other twice (July 2 and July 11) in the final two weeks of the season.
“I was really glad that they added a team,” Overden said. “It shows there’s significant growth of the game in our area. It will be fun to have a rivalry between the clubs.”
“To have two women’s teams here, with soccer played at a high level. They’ll get a chance to see some of these players that were once high school stars in the area, to see how they’ve progressed three or four years later, see how they evolved. For young players,
CENTURY UNITED’s WPSL ROSTER
With current or most recent college team/club
- Landy Mertz (Pitt)
- Myla Sharpless (Florida Atlantic)
- Hannah Stuck (Bucknell)
- Kiley Dugan (Valparaiso)
- Maddy Neundorfer (Duquesne)
- Christa Palla (Morehead State)
- Sidney Palla (Morehead State)
- Marissa Krenn (Fordham)
- Haleigh Finale (Robert Morris)
- Eva Frankovic (Pitt)
- Annabel Thomas (Akron)
- Ariana Caminos (NJIT)
- Julie Lalama (Lehigh)
- Natalie Daube (Michigan State)
- Regan LaVigna (Youngstown State)
- Sarah Nguyen (Duquesne)
- Dalaney Ranallo (Kent State)
- Breana Valentovish (Carnegie Mellon)
- Ellie Coffield (Mars HS/Pitt)
- Juls Gianni (Dickinson)
- Julia Mascaro (Slippery Rock)
- Mackenzie Evers (West Allegheny HS/Pitt)
- Samantha McArdle (Miami [OH])
- Hailey Davidson (Pitt)
- Sam Nemeth (IUP)
PITTSBURGH HOTSPURS WPSL ROSTER
|1- GK||Jess Neill (Seton Hill)|
|2||Ashley Amato (Akron)|
|3||Taylor Bombalski (Waynesburg)|
|4||Emily Cooper (Oakland Catholic HS / Hotspurs)|
|5||Jenna Dubs (Marshall)|
|6||Jordan Daloisio (asst. Coach / played at Clarion)|
|7||Gabi Folino (Oakland Catholic HS / Hotspurs)|
|8||Emily Graeca (Hotspurs)|
|9||Leila Hannaoui (Steel City FC / played at Tiffin University|
McKenzie Hollenbaugh (Played at Boston University and for New England Mutiny)
|11||Anouck Heyer (Ohio Valley)|
|12||Jansen Jamison (Steel City FC / played at Edinboro University)|
|13 – GK||Bella DeFabbo (Duquesne)|
|14||Katelyn Kauffman (Norwin HS / Pitt in Fall 2021)|
|15||Brooke Kelly (Chartiers Valley HS / Beadling SC)|
|16||Kaitlyn Killinger (Plum HS / Hotspurs)|
|17||Morgan Kost (Trinity Christian HS / Hotspurs, committed to Pitt-Johnstown in Fall 2021)|
|18||Britta Lagerquist (Fox Chapel HS / Hotspurs)|
|20||Jenna McGuinness (Norwin HS / Hotspurs)|
|21-GK||Syd Caldwell (Franklin Regional HS / Hotspurs)|
|23||Taylor Hamlett (Middle Tenn State)|
|24||Amanda Miller (Steel City / previously played at Fordham University)|
|25||Renae Mohrbacher (Freedom HS / Hotspurs)|
|26||Raewyn Murphy (Ohio Valley)|
|27||Syd Patrick (Slippery Rock)|
|28||Sabrina Pettinato (Steel City FC)|
|29||Alyssa Otto (Mercyhurst Univ)|
|30||Regan Riley (Hotspurs)|
|31 – GK||Sofia DeCerb (Latrobe HS / Hotspurs)|
|32||Sydney Routch (Duquesne)|
|33- GK||Sam Gildner (IUP)|
|34||Marissa Salisbury (West Virginia)|
|36||Kaley Simqu (Plum HS / Hotspurs)|
|37||Lena Spencer (Carnegie Mellon)|
|38||Abby Torres (Steel City FC / previously played at La Roche & Seton Hill)|
|39||Amber Thomas (Mercyhurst Univ)|
|40||Josie Valeri (Point Park)|
|41||Dixon Veltri (Pitt)|
|42||Emily Yaple (Pitt)|
|43||Cami Collins (Plum HS / Hotspurs)|