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Amidst initial schedule uncertainty, unbeaten Steel City women earn bye, will head to New England for UWS East Conference semifinal on Friday

Photo courtesy Randy Warner

After completing an impressive unbeaten regular season, it appeared that Steel City FC women’s first team were to be rewarded and scheduled to host UWS East Conference postseason quarterfinal round matchup vs Eastern PA side Back Mountain Torrent.

Then, less than 24 hours before that match was to be played, it was cancelled, as the league determined Steel City FC would earn a bye, advancing to the conference semifinal round, where they’ll be playing in Ludlow, Massachusetts on Friday, against top seeded New England Mutiny, then if they win, will play in the Conference Final on Sunday.

“It’s been a whirlwind 48 hours, but we are ready and have one more practice tonight to prepare,” Tom Ovenden, Steel City FC Head Coach, said.

Just on the road on Sunday, Steel City FC’s women’s team ended regular season play by battling FC Buffalo to a 2-2 draw in a back-and-forth affair late Sunday afternoon at All-High Stadium, in Western New York.

With that result, Steel City FC completed regular season play unbeaten, with a 5w-0L-3d mark, good for 18 points, finishing fifth overall in United Women’s Soccer East Conference standings, but one point behind FC Buffalo (6-1-1, 19 points).

The short turnaround time has been extended a bit for Ovenden and his squad, as the UWS East Conference quarterfinal match being cancelled provided the team a little bit more time to recover, train and get ready for their longest trip of the season.

Ovenden went into full administrator and travel agent mode early this week, trying to sort through where they would be playing next, then quickly making arrangements for travel and accomodations.

“We are excited the leaps the club has made. To go to New England in strong form, we will play the top team in the standings, although that doesn’t tell the true picture,” Ovenden said.

Steel City will take on a New England Mutiny side that completed the season with a perfect 8-0-0 record, having outscored the opposition by a 35-3 margin, posting five straight shutouts.

The Mutiny play all of their home matches at historical Lusitano Stadium, in Ludlow.

“We are excited to test ourselves,” Ovenden stated.

The winner of that match will face the other semifinal winner (Sporting CT & Coppermine United) in Ludlow on Sunday.

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

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