The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
Issaquah SC of the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) were born in January of 2012. So much talent was available to the new team that it was decided to field a second side as a U-23 club and compete in the same division with the ISC ”seniors.” When one of the founders of ISC suddenly departed, Emerald City FC came into being, filling the spot opened for the Issaquah U-23′s. This week the new rivals meet twice to decide the Northwest Division playoff race.
“Our group is excited for the week knowing that every game has playoff implications. It’ll be three tough games in five days, but they’re ready for the challenge,” says ECFC head coach Niki Taylor, who began her WPSL coaching life with Issaquah in January, and then went to Emerald City when that club was formed.
Issaquah and Emerald City proved the early prognosis right: there was plenty of local talent to field two teams. As it turns out, the state of Washington has plenty of players for three teams…the Spokane Shine are currently in second place and also hope to battle the Puget Sound sides for a playoff spot. UPDATE: WPSL reduces NW to ONE playoff spot.
Emerald City hosts Issaquah at 6:45 PM tonight at Interbay Stadium in Lower Magnolia. Then they travel to Spokane on Friday to play the Shine before coming back over the mountains and playing Issaquah on Sunday night at Issaquah High School at 7 PM. The journey will test Taylor’s team both mentally and physically.
Issaquah head coach Erin Redwine was not available for comment, but Taylor says in the women’s soccer community there are plenty of familiar faces.
Players on both sides, who would have been team mates before the “split,” have played with and against each other over the years. “Erin and I coached against each other for years in the college game so we know each other well,” Taylor explains. “Many of the players on our teams are Washington-based and have played with or against each other on college or club teams so they’re familiar with each other too.”
“Some of our players have gone to other WPSL matches to watch their friends play, but our staff hasn’t scouted them,” Taylor says.
It’s been a summer of soccer for women in the Puget Sound, and that is also great news for girls. The death of the WPS (Women’s Professional Soccer) flooded the Sounders Women of the W-League with National Team stars. Meanwhile, Issaquah and Emerald City were established just miles apart, opening up over 40 roster spots for local and imported players to build their skills in a 10-match WPSL campaign.
Taylor knows the value of more games, more roster spots, and more chances for girls to see women play. “The more opportunities we can provide for college and post-college women to continue playing competitively the better. These summer teams also provide additional opportunities for young players to watch high-level games beyond the fall college seasons. The local area has such an abundance of quality players that fans should expect matches between Seattle teams to be hard-fought and entertaining.”
Two clubs, almost twins, face each other twice this week with the division title and playoff spot on the line. Who will get the first kick in this new derby that has such promising possibilities? Or, can we even call it a derby when teams have yet to take the pitch against each other?
“I think there’s always an inherent rivalry when two teams from the same area compete in the same conference,” Taylor chimes in. “Add to it that the players know each other well through their college and club programs and there’s that extra motivation to want to win those games.”