6/25 Weekend Preview

Photo courtesy of Bryan Byerly.

Photo courtesy of Bryan Byerly.

Real Salt Lake Women make their final road trip of the season this coming Saturday, June 25th, with a visit to Santa Clarita for the return match against the Blue Heat.

Only three games remain in the inaugural UWS season for RSL, and the team is in a great position with 10 points from a 3-1-1 record that has them in first place in the West Conference. They are closely followed in the standings by Houston Aces, whose 3-3-0 record has them at 9 points with only two matches remaining in their season.

RSL has a few things in their favor to give them the chance to finish strong and claim a spot in the first ever UWS Championship match. Despite playing to a draw at home against Santa Clarita in their first meeting, thanks to late heroics from Bizzy Phillips’ converted penalty shot, RSL played a strong match and were close on several good chances that could have secured a victory.

Their recent run of form should give them a lot of confidence in executing their style of play. RSL has been especially solid on the road, having wins in all three matches played away from Utah so far, and are facing a Santa Clarita team that lost their previous home match by a 4-3 score against Houston. They have a great opportunity to come out aggressive and finish with a perfect road record against the Blue Heat, who have just one win in 4 matches played, that being the unusual 10-1 season-opening victory in Houston.

The team will still be missing co-captain Annie Hawkins, who still has not been cleared to play following the concussion she sustained against Santa Clarita on June 11. RSL has seen a lot of strong performances in her absence, especially the way that Kira Sharp has taken over Hawkins’ position in the midfield, with impressive play on both sides of the ball in Colorado last week.

The team will continue to rely on the full 18 players in the matchday roster to use their speed and high energy to put pressure on the hosts and finish the season with a perfect road record. The players’ dedication and persistence has grown with each game. The team is getting important contributions from everyone in the lineup, and are being rewarded with positive results for their complete team efforts.

Kickoff between RSL and Santa Clarita is scheduled for 9:00 EDT/6:00 PDT.

RSLw 6/17 Weekend Recap

6/17/16: Real Salt Lake Women 3, Colorado Pride 2

Colorado Springs, CO - Real Salt Lake Women kicked off their two-game swing through Colorado in the best possible way, earning a hard-fought but well-deserved 3-2 victory over the Pride on a warm night in Colorado Springs.

With injuries forcing some roster changes, coach Mark Davis still deployed a solid starting eleven. The defense in front of GK Rebecca Ritchie saw 15-year-old Brecken Mozingo stepping in at left back next to veteran CB and captain Natalie Norris. The young Alta High School sophomore played the full 90 minutes and showed a lot of maturity and skill in playing outside her usual attacking midfield role. Bizzy Phillips held down the defensive midfielder spot for the full match, and Kira Sharp took the place of co-captain Annie Hawkins in the creative role, playing the full 90 as well with a solid defensive presence, as well as being starting several of the attacking chances, including an assist on the game-winning goal.

RSL had a great chance at an early lead as forward Madie Lyons found herself 1-v-1 with Pride GK Kalyn Smith, but the defense was able to close her down and prevent the visitors from scoring. The match settled down from there to see both teams trading runs of possession that led to scoring chances for either side. Both goalkeepers seemed to be on their game, but RSL’s Ritchie was especially impressive with several leaping saves to deny the Pride attack that had the crowd gasping at her individual skill. Combined with Mozingo, Norris, Ringwood, and Nielsen in the defense, they kept the match level until the Pride broke through just a minute before the half on a goal from a corner kick. RSL’s determination paid off in the first half stoppage time as Madie Lyons found Michele Murphy for the equalizer just before the halftime whistle.

Coach Davis used both substitutions and tactical adjustments to make sure his team stayed focused, and his move to bring on Jess Vanderveur for Jeni Viernes at halftime would pay off in the 61st minute when Vanderveur took a pass from Murphy and hit a beautiful shot to give RSL the 2-1 lead. It was short-lived however, as the Pride had a 63rd minute equalizer on a curler from long range that just snuck past Ritchie’s fingers.

Despite the swings in momentum and lead changes, RSL kept their determination and pressed to get the win. It was a total team effort for the full match, and they were rewarded in the 81st minute when a string of passes got the ball in the box, and Kira Sharp was able to take advantage of the confusion in the defense to get the ball in front of Norris to poke home for what would stand as the winning goal. The team collectively held strong and fought off some late chances by Colorado through the final 9 minutes plus 3 of stoppage, and earned all three points and first place in UWS’ Western Conference.

Though it was definitely a complete team effort to secure the win, a few individual performances stand out. Ritchie’s efforts in goal were outstanding, and without question saved the scoreline from favoring the home team. Natalie Norris showed why she deserves the captain’s armband with Hawkins and Colette Smith out, her work in the central defense and directing her colleagues on the back line being critical to containing the Pride attack. Michele Murphy continues to drive the RSL attack, especially away from home where her goal and assist from this match now give her three goals and two assists in leading the team to a perfect 2-0-0 road record.

 

6/19/16: Real Salt Lake Women 2 , Colorado Storm 1

Parker, CO - The team had little time to recover, as their next match was scheduled to start just 39 hours after the previous one ended. Though the trip from Colorado Springs to Parker, Colorado is just under an hour drive, it’s a big challenge for the players to find some rest and recovery from a tough match on a warm evening while dealing with the travel.

Regardless, after Houston’s win on Saturday, RSL found themselves two points out of first place and needing to dig deep to get another big road victory. Coach Mark Davis would call on most of the same players who started on Friday to get things rolling on Sunday afternoon, a day where the temperature was listed as 91° at kickoff, but measurements from the field were reading 111°.

The match began with RSL controlling the early possession, and creating a few scoring chances leading up to the mandatory water break at the midpoint of the first half. After cooling off a bit, the teams got back to playing and the Storm made the first breakthrough scoring in the 33rd minute. The half finished with the hosts leading 1-0, and RSL once again needing to battle back to earn a result.

With coach Davis making adjustments in personnel and tactics again at the half, RSL came out strong and controlled the possession to begin the second 45 minutes. Once again, super-sub Jess Vanderveur provided a much-needed goal with her tally in the 65th minute. Jess continues to be a huge spark off the bench for the team, and does a lot to pressure the opposing defenses and create opportunities for herself and her teammates.

The second half water break came just five minutes later, and RSL continued to push for the winning goal with several quality shots, and pressure on the goal leading to corner kicks. Substitute forward Kim Gale made all the efforts pay off with her goal in the 74th minute giving the visitors the lead, which the team then summoned all their remaining energy to defend for the final 15 minutes plus stoppage.

Though they walked off the pitch completely exhausted after two huge efforts in a 48-hour span, RSL also holds their heads high having taken all six points from the weekend, and remaining undefeated in three road matches so far this season, as well as holding onto first place in the conference. The team motto of “Dedication To Each Other” has been on full display lately, with the players leaving everything on the field to fight for one another and find a way to win. Coach Davis has expressed after both matches how proud he is of his players and the focus and determination they have to succeed.
After returning victorious from Colorado, the team will get a few days at home before making the final road trip to Santa Clarita on 6/25, then finish the season with two home matches against the Storm (6/29) and Pride (7/7).

A few extra notes:

Special mention goes out to defenders Stephanie Ringwood and Baylee Nielsen who played all 180 minutes and held the defense together through both matches.

On the offensive side of the ball, Kira Sharp played both full matches as well, taking over the attacking midfield spot and contributing to the organization of the midfield in both offense and defense. Jess Vanderveur, as mentioned previously, subbed into both matches and had huge impacts in both, scoring important goals to keep RSL in a good position to win.

Bizzy Phillips was solid in the holding midfield for the full 180’, and Michele Murphy continues to be an important part of the attack from the outside forward positions.

(RSLw would like to thank Ryan Kelly for the post-game writeup) 

RSL Women Sign Five BYU Players

Real Salt Lake Women are excited to announce the signing of five Brigham Young University players for their 2016 season. Here is a little more about the five signees. Michele Vasconcelos – Attacking Mid / Forward

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What is your favorite soccer Memory?

I really enjoyed being able to play soccer in Italy amidst all the touring/sight seeing we did.

What most excites you about playing for RSL Women?

I'm excited to play with a new team and be able to play in such a competitive atmosphere.

What is something we don't know about you?

One of my goals this summer is to work on my Portuguese and get better at speaking and understanding it.


 

Stephanie Ringwood – Defender

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What is your favorite soccer Memory?

Just being able to play at BYU and also experience Italy with my team.

What most excites you about playing for RSL Women?

Being able to play for a team and improve my soccer skills over the summer.

What is something we don't know about you?

I have to check my alarm after setting it at least 3 times before falling asleep because I'm paranoid it won't go off.


 

Elena Medeiros – Midfielder

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What is your favorite soccer Memory?

Playing for BYU and winning our 4th consecutive WCC Championship last fall. Also touring Italy with teammates and family!

What most excites you about playing for RSL Women?

I'm excited to play with old and new teammates and learn from new coaches. I'm also excited to represent a new club and compete.

What is something we don't know about you?

I love playing piano and organ. I also dislike pretty much all vegetables. I'm a Belieber.


Bizzy Phillips Bowen – Midfielder

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What is your favorite soccer Memory?

Being able to put on a BYU jersey for the first time my freshman year and playing all over the country and world with my team.

What most excites you about playing for RSL Women?

I'm really excited to play with RSL to get better, learn from new coaches, and work to start the professional women's program for future girls.

What is something we don't know about you?

If I could live in the mountains, I would. I love boating, skiing, and hiking. I make really good smoothies.


 

Madie Lyons – Forward

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What is your favorite soccer Memory?

My very first goal at BYU on my birthday against Oregon.

What most excites you about playing for RSL Women?

I am most excited to meet the players and playing with a new team will be exciting!

What is something we don't know about you?

If I could eat BBQ chicken pizza every day, I would!


 

Real Salt Lake Women are excited to have these ladies on the team this season and are looking forward to kicking off their first game on May 28. You can see the full schedule here.

 

RSL Women Announce Official 2016 Schedule

SANDY, UT - The Real Salt Lake women are proud to announce the full schedule for their inaugural season in the newly formed United Women’s Soccer league. The Real Women are setting sights on earning a chance to compete, and host the first-ever UWS National Championship to be played the weekend of July 30th-31st, between the West and East Region champions. The season gets underway on May 28th as the Real Women host the Houston Aces, at Davis High School Stadium in Kaysville, Utah. Kickoff at 7:00 PM. The home schedule this season will feature two home games at Davis High School, and two at East High School in Salt Lake City. Tickets for all home games are $10 (3 and under free) and can be purchased at the gate. Check website regularly for schedule updates, game results, team announcements, game day promotions and team sponsorship opportunities.

You can follow the team success on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

2016 UWS Western Conference Schedule

Saturday, May 28th vs Houston 7:00 PM Davis High School Stadium

Saturday, June 4th @ Houston 7:00 PM Houston Sports Park

Saturday, June 11th vs. Santa Clarita 6:00 PM Davis Highs School Stadium

Friday, June 17th @ Colorado Pride 7:00 PM Colorado College

Sunday, June 19th @ Colorado Strom 12:00 PM Sports Authority Field

Saturday, June 25th @ Santa Clarita 6:00 PM Masters College

Wednesday, June 29th vs. Colorado Storm 6:00 PM East High School Stadium

Thursday, July 7th vs. Colorado Pride 6:00 PM East High School Stadium

Saturday, July 30th East vs. West Playoff  TBD

About United Women’s Soccer (UWS): UWS is a national women’s soccer league sanctioned by U.S. Soccer through the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA). UWS is a professionally operated league created for teams that meet high minimum standards. The season runs from May until the end of July, culminating in a National Championship match. The UWS player pool is comprised of college players, aspiring & former professionals and international stars. You can follow UWS on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Real Salt Lake Women Announce Mark Davis as 2016 Head Coach

Real Salt Lake Women are pleased to announce their new Head Coach for the 2016 season, Mark Davis. Mark Davis is excited to be taking on the position of head coach for RSL Women. Davis served as an assistant coach for the team last year. He is a USSF B license coach, and also has his NSCAA advanced national diploma. Davis graduated with his bachelors degree from BYU-Hawaii. He received his master's degree in coaching and athletic administration from Concordia University Irvine.

Davis played at Iowa Western where he served as a captain and led his team to a regular season conference championship. He then continued on to BYU-Hawaii where he played for two years and served as a captain.

Davis took over as the Head coach of the BYU-Hawaii Men's Team in 2013 after serving as co-head coach in 2012. In addition to the men's squad The BYU-Hawaii athletic department, announced Davis as head coach of the women's soccer team, effective Nov. 18, 2013.

Before his tenure the BYU-Hawaii men's soccer program had a .413 (42-60-2) overall winning percentage with a .420 (33-46-2) percentage in conference play. His hard work has helped turn around the program as he has led the Seasiders to a .609 (15-8-9) overall winning percentage and a .740 (15-3-7) winning percentage in the PacWest. Davis has led his team to a top four conference finish three seasons in a row.

Davis led BYU-Hawaii to its best season in school history in his first full season as head coach with a record of 9-3-4 overall and 7-2-3 in the PacWest. BYU-Hawaii finished fourth in the conference, narrowly missing out on at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. He was named PacWest coach of the year after the 2013 campaign. The following year the Seasiders finished even stronger with a second place finish in the PAC West.

Davis is married to his wife Natalie and together they have two boys Dax and Rudy.

 

Real Salt Lake Women win a WPSL Elite National Title

Real Salt Lake Women played in the WPSL Elite National Championship on Saturday afternoon. They faced off against the San Francisco Nighthawks of the Pacific Conference North Division. Real Salt Lake won pretty handily 7­0 from goals coming from Colette Smith with 2, Elizabeth “Bizzy” Phillips with 2, Chansi Crompton, Annie Hawkins, and Emily Bruder with one goal each. The opening minutes saw returning central midfielder Tasha Aiono get a lot of significant calming touches. Aiono was away on national team duty with the Federation of Samoa, Papua New Guinea. She was away competing in the Pacific games. She showed her quality by being the axil in the center of the midfield, connecting a number of passes to start building in the attack.

Real Salt Lake Women had the majority of possession throughout the match. The Nighthawks closest opportunity to score came in the 6th minute. The Nighthawks won the ball high up the field after a mistake in the RSL­W backline leaving #7 one on one with Rebecca Ritchie. Ritchie stood up to the task making the huge save. RSL­W had their first goal scored in the 27th minute when captain Colette Smith was slotted in for a one versus one with the Nighthawks keeper. Smith tucked the ball near post to take the 1­0 advantage. Just three minutes later Chansi Crompton was able to easily slot her shot to the near post after a comedy of clearances from the Nighthawks. The next 10 minutes showcased a lot of skill and ability on the ball for the RSL­W side. Colette Smith was showing all of the young fans how to properly beat defenders with scissors and step overs. While Alexis Peterson even threw in a crafty back heel pass to Chansi Crompton. Emily

Bruder displayed how to dribble at pace to beat a defender. Man, I tell you, she is fast. Just before the stroke of half time. Elizabeth “Bizzy” Phillips scored her first of the game off of a header from the corner taken by Chansi Crompton. This is what she said about the goal: “So for the corner kick I missed a header right before in the middle and I was bummed because I usually don’t miss headers. I was like ok here we go, this is my chance. Chansi sent in a perfect ball, the defender was going for it but I beat her to it. At first I thought it was going over but it dove down and I was super excited.”

Colette Smith added her second goal of the game in the 53rd minute after the Nighthawks held a high line at the midfield stripe and Tasha Aiono slipped a 30 yard ball in front of Colette for her to run onto and walk in one versus one against Nighthawks keeper.

In the 71st minute, co­-captain Annie Hawkins shot the ball from about 25 yards out. Her shot hitting the top shelf of the upper 90 degree angle. The Nighthawks keeper was extremely stretched out for it and Hawkins shot was just under the bar. The shot couldn’t have had better placement.

Emily Bruder showed her pace that I mentioned earlier. She was flying down the right flank passing people like they were cones. She made it 6­0 in the 79th minute with her breakaway. The final goal of the game came in the 88th minute with a shot from the top of the 18 yard box from Elizabeth Phillips. She said this about that goal: “The second goal also came from Chansi, it started out wide and I was like Chansi, Go, go to the corner and she did. I was screaming at her to drop it off and she played a perfect ball. I just one timed it and hoped for the best and it went in.”

Every player on the game day roster was able to see minutes in this match in front of 500+ fans at Rio Tinto Stadium. This was part of a double header and the first of the Super Soccer Saturday. There was also a watch party at America First Pavilion to see Real Salt Lake face off against D.C. United at 5 p.m. This watch party full of food and beverages on the new part of the RSL complex. Then following the Real Monarchs faced off against the O.C. Blues in USL action.

Center Back Alyssa Lowry Christiansen said the following about the match: Today we had a game plan that I thought we executed well. We knew a little bit about the other team, but we just wanted to come out and play our game. Today, we were able to have success by playing for each other and having every player do their part.

Elizabeth “Bizzy” Phillips: How do you feel winning the WPSL Elite National Championship?:

“It was so much fun and I am so proud of the team. Annie and Colette really took the reigns this year and let it. It was awesome.” What was your favorite part of the season? “Probably this game for sure. Getting to play with players that I have watched my whole life and now even though I am still in college and that I have seen them play, I get to play with them and that is really fun. Because they have been my inspiration in the past and now I am with them on the field.

Real Salt Lake Women grind out a result against a quality Oklahoma FC side

First place in the Big Sky Conference was up for grabs Friday night in the Women’s Premier Soccer League. The visiting Oklahoma City FC were sitting just behind the RSL Women with 21 points, and RSL at 22 points, with 2 games remaining on the season after this contest. This was an important result because only the top team in the conference advances to the regional tournament. RSL grinded out the victory by a 2-1 margin with goals from Colette Smith in the 8th minute and Maddy Grainger in the 80th minute. The go ahead goal was assisted by Jeni Viernes. This gave RSL Women some breathing room before their next home match on Thursday July 9th against the Houston Aces, and their final match of the season July 11 against the Austin Aces. They control their own fate if they are to make the regional tournament like they did in 2012, and advance to the National Final 4.

RSL jumped ahead in the early stages of the game when co-captain Colette Smith took off on her dribbling tyrades in the 8th minute. Smith picked the ball up about 40 yards from goal and dribbled 4 Oklahoma players before slotting the finishing touch past goalkeeper Miranda Larkin to the far side netting.

Just 6 minutes later Oklahoma FC was able to equal the match off of a penalty from #11 Rachel Thun. This was after Roxy Tebbs was whistled for a handball in the box.  There was some confusion as #16 Allison Worsham was lining up to take the penalty when head coach Stephen Phillips yelled for Thun to step up and take it.

Oklahoma FC was an extremely talented team. They pressed the RSL midfield with a tireless energy. This after an exhausting day of traveling. They left Oklahoma at 5:30 am. They showed no signs of that fatigue in the first half. They compressed the midfield throughout the match. The one area that they really struggled with was balls in the air. You could hear Coach Phillips obviously upset with this fact as well. He was telling the players that they were not winning enough of the 50/50 tackles and that they did not come here to lose this game.

Coach Jeff Ginn said this about the Oklahoma FC: “ Oklahoma is a very dominant team and they come well prepared and they have quality players that give our players a hard time. Both times that we have played Oklahoma, they have physically outplayed us. We have had to respond to that physicality and play a little bit more finesse and also with a little bit more of a bite”

Shiloh Price was their standout player for me. She lived up to the number on the back of her jersey, being number 10. She was creative and crafty going forward beating players on the dribble. She created the better of their chances. She probably should have gotten the go ahead goal in the 68th minute when she slipped in behind the defense in the 18 yard box for a one on one with Rebecca Ritchie. Ritchie made 3 huge saves to keep the ball out. For her reward I name Rebecca Ritchie the Player of the Game.

Coach Ginn said about Ritchie: “ Rebecca Ritchie was unbelievable. It was clear that they were trying to knock her off of her game. They were physical, they were playing her, not the ball. She came up big on a number of one on one’s. She won a lot of flighted balls in traffic. Always keeps you hopeful, when you have a goalkeeper like that. It inspires you to play better soccer when you have moments that Ritchie provided for us.”

There were some late fireworks as Oklahoma’s goal scorer, number 11, Rachel Thun was shown a red card for elbowing Annie Hawkins in the chest and the back of the head, after Annie chopped at her heels and ankles committing the foul in the 90th minute.

Coach Jeff Ginn: What are your initial feelings from the result?

“Happy, not satisfied. Happy that we grinded out a result, not satisfied with the lack of movement off of the ball in the second half. We kind of shut down. We (coaches) might of confused them (players) a little bit with the change of formation and they kind of closed up and got cold in regards to how they were going to respond when we won the ball back. There wasn’t an idea for an outlet and that was basically was a lack of movement. Lots to work on in regards to how we react when we win the ball.”

 

Do you feel like you were able to win the outlet later in the game?

“Yeah after about 15 minutes into the second half, about the 60th minute we changed to a formation that provided a little bit more width, and we had a couple of conversations with girls on the bench, and they kind of changed the formation or the shape, if you will, on the field.”

“We need to talk about the resilience of Maddy Grainger playing 90 minutes and getting a goal. Running about 80 yards to put her body on the ball in the final minutes against the run of play. There is a lot to be side about character and work rate. She is someone that nobody really knew about at the beginning of the season. She has grown into a player that you can rely on defensively, and she creates in the attack. She surprises you on set pieces, on crosses like you saw in the goal.”

Walk me through the go ahead assist.

Jeni Viernes:

“I just got the ball on the line and took one touch and looked up, and saw someone coming in back post. I was just trying to float it over there for them and they got on the end of it, thankfully.”

When you received the ball from Annie Hawkins you already knew what you wanted to do with it?

“I thought about taking her down the line and cutting inside, but I looked up and they were open so I put the ball there.”

What are your feelings on the result?

“We are happy to pull off that win. We needed that three points, as far as the standings go. It is also nice to get a little revenge against the team that beat us.”

Tell me what you saw when Jeni Viernes got the ball out wide when you got the go ahead goal.

Maddy Grainger:

“I saw an opportunity far post and a clear line from my place in the defensive line. I realized we needed a transition forward and that starts from the back line, so I took the initiative to be that back post run. When she crossed it, it was a perfect ball and I knew I just had to get anything on it.”

It looked like you barely got a touch. How did you fully extend to get the touch?

“I dove a little bit and got the inside of my left foot hardly as it came across.”

Remember to come and support Real Salt Lake Women in their final regular season home game on July 9th at Ute Field at 6:30 PM.

 

Real Salt Lake Women are sponsored by: Domo, Hidden Valley Insurance, Del Sol, MVP Sports Science Institute, Save-A-Thon, and the Utah Adult Soccer Association.

 

RSL Women Have a Goal Fest In Their First Home Game of the Season

Real Salt Women hosted the Texas Spurs Friday night at Ute Field and won 11-0. This game was a perfect opportunity for everyone to get involved and to get on the score sheet. Collette Smith started the onslaught of goals in the 1st minute by taking the ball off the kickoff and dribbling going right to goal. She beat 3-4 players on the dribble, while eventually slotting the ball to the far post side netting. That was a sign of things yet to come for the remainder of the game. Collette finished with 3 goals and 3 assists. Jeni Viernes had a goal and 3 assists. The Texas Spurs had their best chance of the match in the 7th minute when they played a long ball over the top of the RSL backline forcing Becca Ritchie to come off of her line. Ritchie misjudged the hop and the ball landed over the top of her but Alyssa Lowry was there to clean up the mess and prevent any chances.

The Spurs had just came off of an impressive 4-1 victory over the Houston Titans, who RSL lost to back on May 29th. You could tell early on that they were struggling with fatigue probably from the travel and elevation. They had moments of great individual skill but they only had 2 subs on the bench.

The first half ended with RSL Women up 3-0. Collette Smith creating all 3 chances, scoring 2 and assisting to Jeni Viernes on the other. Smith was a handful for the Spurs defense beating players in all out speed and in one versus one duels. At one point Smith did a scissor feint and snaked the ball outside to inside to fly by the defender. It was fun to watch.

RSL Women started the second half just like they did the first by winning the ball off of the kickoff and going right at the Texas Spurs. Jeni Viernes won the ball and slipped Brittany Crump in to beat the goalkeeper in an easy finish. Four minutes later Collette Smith had another chance to go one on one with Bedoy the Spurs goalkeeper, and Bedoy brought Collette down in the box. Bedoy won a red card for her efforts for being the last defender and denying a clear goal scoring opportunity with a foul.

Rebecca Ritchie, RSL Women’s goalkeeper stepped up and made no mistake about it, putting RSL up 5-0. This is where the floodgates really opened up and chances were coming like sweets at Christmas time.

Here is a timeline of the goals scored:

1st minute: Collette Smith goal unassisted

13th minute: Jeni Viernes goal, assisted by Collette Smith

20th minute: Collette Smith goal, assisted by Stacy Bair

46th minute: Brittany Crump goal; assisted by Jeni Viernes

52nd minute: Rebecca Ritchie goal, assisted by Collette Smith

57th minute: Brittany Crump goal, assisted by Jeni Viernes

62nd minute: Collette Smith goal, assisted by Elizabeth Phillips

75th minute: Carla Swensen goal: unassisted

78th minute: Roxy Tebbs goal, assisted by Karen Wunderli

80th minute: Madeleine Grainger goal, assisted by Karen Wunderli

82nd minute: Stacy Bair goal, assisted by Elizabeth Phillips

Coach Jeff Ginn has really been translating what he sees from the Real Monarchs side to this RSL Women’s club. The style of possession and team shape and philosophy is modeled after the Claret and Cobalt team that we have grown to love. Don’t miss the next home match.

After the game Real Salt Women turned on some music and mingled with the fans for autographs. Come out to the next home game on July 3rd at 7pm at Ute Field. You can follow them on Twitter and Instagram @RealSaltLakeWmn or on Facebook. Stay tuned in to their next home match and how they do in the WPSL league play.

For Love of the Game

Recently Real Salt Lake Women have received some publicity and notoriety. Yes, there is a professional women’s soccer team that competes here in Utah. The RSL Women compete in the WPSL. The Women's Premier Soccer League is a national women's soccer league in the United States and Puerto Rico, and is on the 2nd level of women's soccer in the United States soccer pyramid, alongside the W-League and below National Women's Soccer League (NWSL). The league is sanctioned by the United States Adult Soccer Association as an affiliate of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). RSL women have their first home game of the 2015 campaign today June 19th, at 7 pm at Ute Field. They face off against the Texas Spurs.

In recent weeks, the RSL Women have had articles written about them in the Deseret News, and interviews on KSL morning talk shows, as well as an interview on Good 4 Utah on Channel 4 News. Well have you heard the story of how this team came to fruition?

I sat down with the founders of this team to find out the true inspiration of putting this team together. They talked me through their motivation to build a higher level women’s team in the state of Utah along with their early struggles. Without these dedicated individuals, I really do not believe that RSL Women would be around today. Dennis Burrows was the head coach from 2008-2015. He had a number of assistant coaches that helped along the way; Damian Munoz, Ab Rees, Patrick Rennie, John Ragsdale, Eric Stephens. They volunteered their time to make this ambition of making a professional women’s soccer team in Utah a reality. Read their story.

Dennis Burrows: What happened was I had been wanting to do it for years. I had ran a men’s team for so long, I had done Dundee United and Pan World. So I thought I can do this for the girls. I talked to Bill Bosgraaf, and he said “this is what we have”. I wasn’t interested in an adult women’s team. I did have my U-16s, U-17s, and U-18s girls in the adult league on the women’s side. I did that to help the women’s side and to help my girls. That wasn’t really a challenge, we were killing everybody. I was like, there is better players, so I got to do something. So Patrick Rennie and I chatted. I had the idea of doing a women’s semi-pro team. I said well if we do it here, what league can we be in? That is when Sara Buie (Cowley) came to me, because she was one of my coaches at Sparta, and she said we have an opportunity to join this WPSL. Do you guys want to do it? Buie says I have this friend Kendra Halterman and she wants to help. I said yeah let’s do it. I talked with Sparta and they gave us the blessing. Then we talked to the league. The league came back and said that we needed to start in a month. We were talking about doing it a year later. So then they had to go to Sparta and asked “Hey can you guys back these girls”. Patrick Rennie worked things out with Ben Vandenhazel, the founder of Sparta United and they signed the papers and sent it off. That’s when we became Spara United Women’s.

Ab Rees: You know when the team first started it was Dennis, Kendra, and Buie. Buie was one of our coaches at Sparta at the time. Dennis approached me to help him coach it. The idea was, we are girls youth coaches, and how neat would it be for our club to have a semi-pro team so from a club perspective the young girls in the club can see that there is a higher level during and after college. I didn’t really come up with the idea, I was recruited to help coach. Dennis, Buie, and Kendra came up with the idea and Patrick was involved early on because we made it a Sparta United Team. He had a conversation with Ben Vandenhazel and Jerry Zanelli the runner of the league. We did it so our youth players had a place to strive for. Like a higher level to obtain.

Damian Munoz: I was a van driver, dude.

Ab: Talk about hardships. We didn’t have any money. We are raising our own money. We were manning concession stands at the Sparta tournament. We were cleaning Rice Eccles stadium after Real Salt Lake games as a team.

Damian: For $1,000 I think it was.

Ab: I am not even sure if it was even that much. They were paying us a little to clean that entire stadium. The players were involved, the administrators were involved. Kendra and Buie were brought in as founding members on the administrator's side. Dennis recruited Damian and I to help coach. Man, the road trips. The worst ones were to Phoenix. Driving to Phoenix and Tucson.  We were on a shoestring budget. We were skimping on hotel rooms.

Damian: Remember we used to stop at Sam’s club and eat the rolls there, and get the sandwich there.

Ab: Instead of spending the night, we would drive straight through to Tucson, hop out of the vans and begin our warm ups. It was really, really hard on the players. They have been cooped up for 15 hours and they hop out and start their warm up. The worst one was when we drove to Phoenix, hopped out of the vans and played a game. The next morning we drive to Tucson, played a game, turned around drove back to Phoenix, spent the night, woke up the next morning, played another game and hopped in the vans and drove straight home. So it was like a 4 day, 3 game trip. One time we got home and Damian was driving, because they have photo cops there, Damian had like 3 speeding tickets (Laughter). One of them he is waving at them (laughter).

Damian: It was bad, it was just going there hoping that you could get a tie dude. There was no way you could go there and win. We didn’t have the best players. Those players said, hey I don’t want to be in the van for 15 hours.

Ab: Ya but you know what, we had some success. Our first goal for this club was scored by Jenn Flynn, who was a junior in High School, a Sparta player. Our first goal was scored by one of our youth players.

Soccer in the United States has grown from the grassroots level one step at a time. In Utah for Women’s soccer, that was a step that everyone needed to sacrifice to build for the women. We were happy to do it. The team paid us back by playing really well and putting their hearts into the project and winning. Between Patrick, Dennis, Damian, and I we have had every Sparta team since the 1988 age group. So that is really why we built it so that those players could get out of the youth system, and get out of college and have another level to go to. With our ties to the community, that made it easy.

2012 was our best year. You know the playoffs in that region are hard to get into because there are so many teams. Very few actually make it into the playoffs. We went into Southern California against the founder of the organization's team. The California Storm are always a perennial powerhouse. They always have players like Cece who has World Cup records for Brazil, and Brandi Chastain plays for that team. So they have big time players that play for them and I think we shocked them. We went in and beat them, and then we beat the San Diego Sea Lions and those are two teams that are pretty good and well established teams. It was a really neat experience for the girls to play at that level, and then have a lot of success at that level.

Damian: For me, when I was a kid, someone did it for me, and I think it was the right time for me to do it for someone else. ya know, maybe later on, someone else is going to do it for someone else. One point you do it because you can help. Soccer is a community of people helping. That is how we started. There was no money.

Dennis: Kendra, Buie, and I did all of the administration, did all of the organization. We did all of the setting up of the events. We didn’t have sponsors then. We got a few here and there. Most of our money came from going and walking stadiums cleaning up after RSL games and going out to Usana and being the crowd people there. If you went out and did it for us, then we would get a piece of it, then you would get some money. Along the way there were some private donations. It was a shoestring budget, we drove vans. We drove 15 passenger vans all the way to Phoenix and back 2 years in a row.

We brought in players that we all had kind of coached in club. Spiders was there for a year, so we were fighting for them for players. The Spiders went away the next year so we did even better. The next year we helped bring in the Stars down in Orem. Made it easier to travel for away teams, because you can get 2 games in one trip. Then the next year we helped start a team in St. George. So we got 3 teams started here and it was going really good. Well the following year the funding in Provo dried up. That is when it went back down to only us, and that is when RSL started putting money into it.

The evolution from Sparta was to Salt Lake United. The reason for that was that people were shy of it because it was “Sparta”. So we said ya know everything we do is “United”, (Ab, Dennis, and Patrick own and operate an indoor soccer facility called The United Soccer Center in Sandy, Utah) so we made it Salt Lake United. Salt Lake United started to get more and more players for a couple of years, and then we started talking to our guy at RSL, Bill Manning. Bill Bosgraaf got us a meeting with Manning. We went in there and he got us in front of Del Loy Hansen. We had tried the year before and didn’t have any luck. This time we got in with Del Loy and he was all over it.

We must have put thousands of hours in, especially Kendra, Buie, and I. The coaches donated their time coaching. Well it started working out, we started getting all of the good players, we ended up winning our region, going into the final four. We got second at Nationals twice. We were really doing some nice things. Then we had an off year, where we took third in our region. Then we got put into the upper division this last year, we went out and really expanded our wings. We went out and played in the National Cup again. We weren’t prepared for that. The teams we played were in season and we weren’t. We played well and played against some really good teams. Then we came back in that conference in Northern California and lost. We ended up 1 or 2 points off of taking 2nd place and making the playoffs. It came down to the last game. Only two teams out of the conference go to the playoffs. But we were right there. We tied one of the teams we had never beaten, and beat the other. We played everybody great and had a really good rhythm and vibe last year. So we started toying around with jumping up to the WPSL Elite. Over the winter is where everything changed with the Monarchs coming in. That is when they ousted us.

I want the program to go on. I support coach Jeff Ginn one-hundred percent. I don’t feel like the organization itself has given credit to guys and coaches that put the time and their heart into this, and to be honest volunteered. We got a stipend the last 3 years and some apparel items. Nothing worth the hundreds of hours that we have put in. We are coaches that were just trying to build something and to help build women’s soccer.

 

I interviewed these guys at the United Soccer Center. They are soccer people inside and out. They have all been around the sport for a lifetime in the state of Utah. They have built Utah soccer to a point of recognition. They are all coaches in the Utah Olympic Development program and they have offered so much to the youth and the game here state wide. I think these Men need to be recognized publicly for the work that they have done. So in the first week of the 2015 season for the Real Salt Lake Women, Much thank you and Respect to Dennis, Ab, Damian, Patrick, and John. As well as to everyone else that was involved in building the program.

RSL Women’s Head Coach Jeff Ginn said, “We need to recognize that there is a significant past to this program. The culture these coaches created will carry us into the future. Dennis Burrows and his coaching staff were instrumental and monumental in developing this women’s soccer club.”

Dedication To Each Other Kicks Off in 2015

Real Salt Lake Women started their 2015 Campaign traveling to Houston, Texas last weekend. They faced off against two Texas professional sides for their first road test of the season. On Friday May 29th they met up against the Houston Aces losing 2 1. RSL goal scored by Kira Sharp, assisted by Annie Hawkins. RSL Women then took on the Texas Titans on Sunday May 31. They were victorious in this outing with a final score of 2 1. The first goal scored by Kira Sharp, assisted by Annie Hawkins, for the second time these two combined for a goal on the weekend. The second goal scored by Jessica Lynn Vander Veur, assisted by Colette Noel.

Assistant Coach Mark Davis:

Tell us about your overall thoughts on the weekend:

“I was pleased. I thought that the girls played really well. We defended with a purpose, attacked with a purpose.

The first game we came out flat against the Houston Aces. In the first 20 minutes of the match, we got a goal against the run of play and went up 1 nil, and I thought that we played it really well.

We ended up conceding goals in the 70th and 74th minute, back to back. One was a set piece. The other one was just a nice rip from about 25 yards out. The second game we dominated the entire time. We gave up a goal when we were laxed. But I am really pleased with the girls”

Kira Sharp scored in both games. Talk about her performance.

“I subbed Kira Sharp in the first half and her first touch was a goal. I was really pleased with her. She came in and played the number 8 spot extremely well, linked the forwards up with the midfield in the 4 3 3. Which is super important.

The second game was a very similar goal. She started the match and scored the goal in like the 5th minute of the match. She just played really well. She was on it the entire match.”

Are there any other players that stood out over the first weekend?

“Jenny Chiu from North Carolina I thought was phenomenal the first game. Against the Houston Aces she was taking players on, she was tracking back. She created loads and loads of opportunities in the offensive third. It is nice to have a player like her. She played on the U17 National Team for Mexico, plays with North Carolina. She was very, very good. She was really the X factor in getting forward.

You got to talk about Alisa Lowry Christensen and Roxy Tebbs who were phenomenal in the back as well. They maintained possession, they never let anyone behind, super smart, super disciplined.”

Goal Scorer Kira Sharp Take us through both goals that you scored this weekend:

“My goal in the first game was my first touch of the game. It just so happened that right when I subbed in the timing was perfect to have Annie slip me a through ball that put me one versus one with the goalie. I just chipped it up over the goalie. The second goal in the second game was very similar. I started this game and scored in the 5th minute. Annie sent me another through ball this time on the ground, setting me up 1 v 1 with the keeper again. Finishing the ball on the ground just passed the goalie. How were you able to find that success? I think we played great as a team. Annie said to me in the first game that it feels like 2012 all over again. (We made it to the final 4 that year). Annie and I were leaders in goals and assists, which most of our goals were from each other. I thought the same thing after that first goal in Houston. We just flow together well. We think alike as players and I think that’s why we have the chemistry we do on the field. I like to call us the one two punch.”

Head Coach Jeff Ginn is the Assistant Coach for The Real Monarchs. You can see that he fosters a lot of the same type of style of play with the 4 3 3 and possession oriented play with the RSL Women as he does with the Real Monarchs. Come support the #RSLFamily. RSL Women will play at home on Friday June 19th against the Dallas United Aces, and June 21st against Fort Worth Panthers. Their home field is up at the University of Utah. Come out and support the women.

They next travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma June 12 to play against the Tulsa Spirit, and June 14th against the Oklahoma FC. You can follow Real Salt Lake Women on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Shawn Blymiller

RSL Women head to Nigeria with Bridges to America

Real Salt Lake Women are proud to be a supporter of Bridges to America. In May, Bridges to America is hosting a Bridges Cup Final in Nigeria. The Bridges cup is a unique soccer tournament designed for Nigerian Youth 17 years old or younger. The Cup is both for girls and boys and is an important part of the Save-A-Thon mission. The first ever Bridges Cup started in Osun State in November 2014. The finals of the Cup will be held in Lagos in May 2015.

Some of the Real Salt Lake Women will be headed to Nigeria to help host the Cup, visit schools in the Lagos area, conduct free community soccer clinics and provide humanitarian aid. You can read more about what they're doing here.

The women are looking for people to support them in their fundraising. You can go here to donate.

Getting to Know RSL Women: Kendra Halterman

Kendra Halterman has been involved with professional women’s soccer in Utah over the last 8 years. She began her career in professional women’s soccer as one of the founders of the original WPSL Sparta Women’s Team (now Real Salt Lake Women) as well as playing a key role as a striker on the field. She has taken on different roles and assignments, from key administrative duties associated with RSL Women, to sitting on the Utah Soccer Association board of directors as vice president overseeing the Wasatch Women’s Soccer League, to coaching youth soccer, in an effort to keep the sport of women’s soccer progressive in Utah. Although she isn't able to play on the field for RSL women this year, her dedication and focus to the team remains unflinching. Kendra played here locally growing up and she is 34 years old @ShawnBlymiller: What is your role on the team?

Kendra Halterman: Well I actually do a lot but my title is the director of operations/registrar. I schedule home and away games, register the players on the team, book our travel, I represent the team at different meetings and conferences around the country and so much more.

SB: Describe yourself in 3 words?

KH: Athlete, Busy, Mom. I have 2 kids who are both soccer players. Cole is 10 and plays for La Roca, and Marley is 8 and plays for Forza. My husband's name is Rocky, and he is a rockstar. He has been my greatest supporter in helping me follow my dream to help establish a professional women's soccer team in Utah.

SB: Where did you grow up and what club did you play for?

KH: I grew up in Centerville. I played for several different youth clubs growing up, but in Junior high I joined a very talented club called Devastation coached by Rick Wood. We were seriously so good. We won several state titles, regional title and went on to play in Nationals. We were the team that everyone hated playing. ha ha I have great memories of that team.

SB: What inspired you to be a soccer player?

KH: I love everything about the game. I've always been around the soccer field and I played on my first team when I was 7 years old. But I must say it’s the adrenalin rush of scoring goals that always makes me wanting more.

SB: What is your favorite thing about being a part of RSL Women?

KH: My favorite part about playing for RSL Women is the girls! I really enjoy hanging out with some of the funniest, craziest, and talented players. I would do anything for them.

SB: What is your greatest soccer moment to date?

KH: Well I have 2. Is that okay? In 1998 I took State my senior year at Viewmont High School as a captain. I will never forget that feeling. My other greatest soccer moment was in 2012 when this team was actually called Salt Lake United. We won the Big Sky Conference, then won the Western Conference, and got to advance to participate in the Final Four Tournament played in Pensacola, Florida. Even though we didn’t win the national title, it was so awesome to see a team that struggled for many years grow into this amazing team.

SB: Goals for the season?

KH: Oh Geez! There are tons. But #1 is to have FUN! If your busting your tail you gotta make sure your laughing and having fun while you do it. Right! Another goal would be is to continue to bring the level of play higher. With all of the changes we are making this year, we are definitely going to be accomplishing that. I cant wait for the season to start. I also think its important we continue to provide a positive environment for our athletes.

SB: Advice for aspiring soccer players.

KH: Train hard, play hard. Be the player that always gives it their all, on and off the field. And Never give up on your dream!

SB: Who was your soccer idol growing up?

KH: Mia Hamm! Dang that girl was so good. I loved watching her play.

SB: Favorite game outside of soccer?

KH: Oh, there is another sport besides soccer? (Laughter) Just Kidding! I was a huge tomboy growing up. I loved playing all sports. But, I would have to say my next favorite would probably be basketball or softball.

SB: Worst subject at school?

KH: I would say English.

SB: What do you do in your downtime?

KH: Downtime? What’s that? I rarely ever get time alone. I’m always running around. (Laughter) But, when I have a few minutes to catch my breath, I enjoy movie nights and just laying around.

SB: What show can’t you miss?

KH: The Voice or The Bachelor/ Bachelorette.

SB: Who is your hero?

KH: My Dad is definitely my hero. He is pretty amazing! My Dad is my hero because he is the most special person in my life. He is my biggest fan on and off the field. He has been there for me through my ups and downs. My dad is without a doubt the strongest man I know. He is my family’s rock and guardian. My dad is the most genuine, hard working, unselfish, and spiritual leader with high human values, and morals you will ever meet. He has taught me that getting what you want in life means working for it and earning it. I know that his great example has influenced me to be the person I am today. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful Dad that is also my hero.

SB: If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

KH: I would love to live in Playa Del Carmen Mexico.

SB: What is your favorite family vacation?

KH: Favorite vacation… that’s a hard one. We love to travel. I enjoy cruises, trips to Cancun or camping with my family.

SB: What motivates you to work hard?

KH: My family is my top priority and motivates me every day. I want to make sure they are taken care of. The other thing that motivates me is my team and the future for Women’s Soccer. I want nothing more than to see this sport to continue to grow and succeed, and I will do my part to make that happen.

SB: What is your proudest accomplishment?

KH: My proudest accomplishment would definitely have to be this team. It has been a fun, challenging and rewarding journey so far. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

SB: What makes you laugh the most?

KH: My kids! The stuff kids come up with and say cracks me up.

SB: What did you want to be when you were small?

KH: I wanted to be a nurse or doctor.

SB: If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be?

KH: I would want to find the cure for cancer. We are losing way too many great people to this horrible disease. I lost my beautiful sister in law to this disease.

SB: What would you sing at Karaoke night?

KH: Ummmm something country.

SB: What two radio stations do you listen to in the car the most?

KH: My radio is usually on country, but I also like Pop/Hip Hop or R&B.

SB: If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

KH: Sushi. Yummy!

RSL Owner Hansen Hopeful For Future NWSL franchise

We are extremely excited about the future of Real Salt Lake Women. Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen is hopeful about the future of professional women's soccer in Utah. Hansen and Real Salt Lake President, Bill Manning, met with the President of the NWSL and discussed the possibility and future of Salt Lake becoming the 10th franchise in the league. Read the great article on RSL Soapbox about Hansen's meeting  here.

Getting to know RSL Women Captain: Annie Hawkins

Today I have the privilege of getting to know captain Annie Hawkins a little better. Annie has a decorated resume playing part of the U.S. Women’s National Team pool, as well as playing professionally in Sweden in the Damallsvenskan League for QBIK. At Gonzaga University, Hawkins is second in school history for goals, assists, points, and shots. She was First Team All-West Coast Conference in 2003 and 2004. IMG_0981_2

Hawkins is a Salt Lake City native and prepped at Judge Memorial Catholic High School. She was a national honor society member with a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.76. She grew up playing for the Utah Futbol Club.

@ShawnBlymiler: What is your first memory of playing soccer?

Annie Hawkins: In Cincinnati, Ohio my sister and I were 4 or 5, we had to play on a boys team. It was pretty fun.

@ShawnBlymiller: Why were you in Cincinnati?

Annie Hawkins: For my dad’s job, he was a children’s heart surgeon so we moved around a lot and lived in a couple different places.

@ShawnBlymiller: So when did you come to Utah?

Annie Hawkins: We were actually born here, and then we came back in between each place that we lived. So we lived in Utah, San Francisco, Utah, Cincinnati, and then back here. We ended up back here in 3rd grade.

@ShawnBlymiller: Tell us about your greatest soccer victory to date.

Annie Hawkins: That is tough. I think the most memorable one was when I played for the U.S. National B team and we won in Mexico. We played against the U-19 Mexican National Team, and we ended up winning 2-1. It was an amazing experience all around. It was crazy because the whole trip we had police escorts and mariachi bands would greet us when we got off the bus. It was such a cool trip.

@ShawnBlymiller: Tell us about the greatest goal you have ever scored.

Annie Hawkins: The goal that comes to mind is actually a goal I scored playing in the WPSL. It was to clinch a seat in the Final 4. I remember chest trapping it and then turning and volleying it out of the air to the upper 90 to win the game. One of those goals ya know, when you don’t even remember how you did it. (This was in 2012 when RSL Women took 1st place in the Big Sky Division. RSL Women ended up making it to the Semi Finals of Nationals.)

@ShawnBlymiller: Who is your favorite teammate?

Annie Hawkins: My twin sister for sure. She is so awesome. She always made me better in every way.

@ShawnBlymiller: Who is the best player you have ever played against?

Annie Hawkins: Kristine Lilly probably. I played pro soccer in Sweden and she was on a top team in our league, KIF Örebro DFF. She played for Pia Sundhage (Former National Team coach), who was coaching there at the time. Lilly was still so good. Marta played there too and she was breaking ankles all of the time.

@ShawnBlymiller: She still does that.

Annie Hawkins: Oh my gosh she is so good.

@ShawnBlymiller: Who did you look up to growing up?

Annie Hawkins: I followed Man U, so Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, Thierry Henry a little bit.

@ShawnBlymiller: Thierry Henry but a Man U fan?

Annie Hawkins: I know... (laughter) It doesn’t make sense but he was so fast and I was like, I want to be as fast as him.

@ShawnBlymiller: What is your greatest memory of playing with RSL Women?

Annie Hawkins: Probably when we went to the Final 4. We had the best team unity and we played for each other more than we ever had before. It ended up helping us succeed on the field. I think this is one of the reasons why we have that motto ‘Dedication to Each Other’. That moment is kind of where we sealed that. If you play for each other, you are going to end up winning more often than not.

@ShawnBlymiller: So tell us more about that mantra ‘Dedication to Each Other’

Annie Hawkins: We thought of it a couple of years ago. Erin Rodgers, who was captain with me, came up with a great design, and we print it on all our gear to remind us of our bigger goal. We are like a big family. We love each other. We want to make each other better. There are definitely people on the team that have made me a better player, and a better person. We try to live that every time we are on the field, and every time we are off the field too.

@ShawnBlymiller: Time to get a little goofy… Who is your favorite musical artist?

Annie Hawkins: Lauryn Hill or Talib Kweli.

@ShawnBlymiller: What is your dream car?

Annie Hawkins: I don’t know. I have a LandRover and I love it.

@ShawnBlymiller: Which Olympic sport other than soccer could you win a gold medal?

Annie Hawkins: Basketball, I played through high school.

@ShawnBlymiller: How do you rate your dancing abilities?

AH: I don’t even know if I have danced enough to know. Probably 0. (laughter)

@ShawnBlymiller: What were your best and worst subjects in school?

AH: Best is probably art or science. Worst is math or history.

@ShawnBlymiller: Have you ever had a nickname?

AH: Annie is kind of a nickname. My real name is Anne.

@Shawn Blymiller: Tell us something we don’t know about you.

AH: Most people don’t know that I am an identical twin.

@ShawnBlymiller: Why do you think it is important for people to follow Real Salt Lake Women?

AH: I think it is proof for young girls that you can live your dream. Growing up I didn’t really have that. I mean I kind of did with watching Mia Hamm. But it was never someone in your city, in your state, that you could maybe run into at the grocery store, or see them actually play a game. I think that is so important for the girls to actually see it, because when you have a real life mentor or role model that you can watch you believe that you can do it too.

@ShawnBlymiller: It is pretty significant that you played on the same field as Marta and Kristine Lilly.

AH: (Humble grin and shades of red on her face) I am just blessed.

Well believe it girls and boys. You learned it yourself from a Utah native. You can live your dream and play the sport you love. Make sure to come watch Annie Hawkins and the rest of the RSL Women put the mantra “Dedication to One Another” to work in front of your own eyes. Check out their schedule here shortly.

*Further information for those new soccer fans: (Kristine Lilly was just inducted into the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame on Saturday 02/14/2015. Her career included 352 caps for the U.S. National Team, 130 goals, played in 5 Women’s World Cup’s, won 2 World Cups and 2 Gold Medals) (Check out Kristine Lilly’s own personal website at http://kristinelilly13.com/) (Marta was named FIFA World Player of the Year five consecutive times between 2006-2010 as a key figure for the Brazilian National Team.)-- Yes, Annie played against some big names.

You can follow Shawn on Twitter

You can follow Annie on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Getting to know RSL Women: Sara Cowley

Real Salt Lake doesn't just have a new USL Pro team; it has a women’s team, too. They compete in the WPSL Elite, one step below the top-flight National Women’s Soccer League — where you will see U.S. Women’s National team stars like Hope Solo and Alex Morgan. If we were to draw a direct comparison of the WPSL with the men’s side, it would be similar to USL Pro. The WPSL Elite is made up of 12 teams in two conferences, each playing likely 10 home games this season. The women sacrifice a lot to play soccer at the highest-possible level. Every month, @ShawnBlymiller (aka SoccerGeek) will sit down with one of these women to give you a chance to know them. This is first in that series of interviews, where I got to know team administrator Sara Cowley, a former player who gives us a better idea of the organization.

Sara played a total of 60 games with 4 goals and 8 assists. The team has gone through a number of name changes from Sparta United, SL United, and now Real Salt Lake Women

@ShawnBlymiller: What does the community need to know about RSL Women? Why should they watch Real Salt Lake Women and become a supporter?

Sara Cowley: The members of Real Salt Lake Women come from all walks of life: women who are all pursuing careers, going to school, raising kids, preparing for college, currently playing collegiate soccer and more. What they all share is a deep passion and love for the game of soccer, a determination to continue to learn and improve within the game as individuals and as a team. When we come together as a team our mantra is 'Dedication to each other.' Together, as coaches and players we are all dedicated to raising the bar and working hard to establish high-level women’s soccer here in Utah, and all over the nation. If you enjoy sports and watching elite athletes perform at the highest level who display tons of heart and passion, you will love watching the RSL Women.

@ShawnBlymiller: To the soccer snobs that love everything to do with soccer, those people that know the game well, what does RSL Women add that makes it important for them to be a supporter?

SC: Soccer is known as the beautiful game, and players of all ages, young or old, try to accomplish playing just that, playing the game as it was meant to be played — lots of control, passing, creativity, and finishing. The women bring to the table a very high level of fitness and athleticism. There is unity and high level of teamwork in the way the women play, that I feel is pretty special and unique in the world of soccer. I think we have converted a few fans over the years and we are hoping to convert a lot more.

@ShawnBlymiller: What is your role on the team on the field and off?

SC: Early on as a player, I would contribute in the midfield and defense, on the field. Off the field, I did the administrative duties — basically whatever had to be done so we could get out on the field and play each game, things like registration, finding sponsors, arranging travel, etc.

My role has evolved over the last eight years, largely due to the addition of two more kids: not as much playing and more managerial work. But I have really enjoyed seeing the game from a different perspective, the 'business' side of the game. However, I do still love to get out on the field and play whenever I get a chance.

@ShawnBlymiller: Get a few nutmegs in on the girls?

SC: Yeah (laughter), well, these guys are all pretty good now.

@ShawnBlymiller: So tell me a little more about the administrative roles. What does that look like? In order for the finances to make sense, what do you have to do?

SC: As an athlete growing up playing sports, I had no idea all that went into organizing and managing teams. It’s a lot of paperwork, communicating with ref coordinators, completing players' registration, securing fields to play on, and, of course, managing the finances. Players and coaches have worked hard over the years to help secure funding for the team — it costs quite a bit to travel all over the United States to play games. Budgeting is very important so we make sure all the costs and fees are covered, while keeping a little in the bank for the end of year trips to the playoffs and championship. It’s been a great experience, getting hands-on experience of all that goes on behind the scenes.

@ShawnBlymiller: What is a funny and interesting thing about one of the members of Real Salt Lake Women?

SC: Each member of the team has their own unique and interesting life story. I wish you could get to know all of them. There are players that have funny pre-game rituals — one, for example, has to have an unchewed piece of gum under her shin guard every game, which I find kind of funny. Also, we had a player audition for American Idol a few years ago; she sang the National Anthem at a few of our games. We have lots of amazingly talented women.

A very inspirational player we have is Lexe Selman. She battled for her life when doctors diagnosed her with leukemia as a senior in high school. She courageously beat it, and is now playing college soccer (at Arizona) and will be with the RSL Women in the summer. What amazing women we have on this team!

@ShawnBlymiller: Who is the funniest on the team?

SC: That’s a hard one; we have lots of fun when we are all together. Tasha Aiono, or “Tushy” is always having a good time — she choreographs music videos on our road trips. She’s always making us laugh.

@ShawnBlymiller: What is your favorite memory so far of your time with RSL Women?

SC: To name one is difficult. Other than the amazing friendships I have made with coaches and teammates over the years, the one that sticks out was the 2012 season. We won our conference and earned a spot in the regional tournament. We were up against two WPSL powerhouses, the San Diego SeaLions and the California Storm. We traveled to California and were huge underdogs. The team pulled together and played absolutely inspired. We ended up beating both teams and bringing home the trophy of Western Conference champs, earning a spot in the Final Four tournament in Florida. It was a blast and I will never forget how awesome it was to run off that field to get to the airport (for a flight we missed, by the way), and leaving all the fans and players stunned by what had just happened.

@ShawnBlymiller: Where do you see the RSL women and yourself in two years?

SC: In two years, we hope to be one of the new teams joining the National Women’s Soccer League. That is our goal, and has been since we started this team. We have had some amazing support recently and now that we are part of the RSL family, we know we can accomplish this goal. A lot of work is yet to be done to get there, but we are ready. And for me personally, I will probably still be doing what I do now — and that is whatever needs to be done to make sure we can get out on that field and play. And by “We” I mean any and all women who have a desire to play soccer on all levels. I would also love to continue learning the game as a coach; I have loved all my experiences coaching the past 10 years (at Jordan High School, Brighton High School and in the Olympic Development Program), and really helping youth players develop in the game and accomplish their goals in soccer. There are lots of exciting things to look forward to in the next 2 years.

I respect trailblazers like Sara that allow others to reap the benefits of her work. If people were not willing to do that work before us, the great game might not be as big as it is in our country right now. Thank you on behalf of the future women’s soccer stars coming out of Real Salt Lake Women.

2015 Coaching Staff Announced

Head Coach, Jeff Ginn, has selected his staff for the 2015 season. We are excited to introduce you to the 3 assistant coaches. WILL RADER / Assistant Coach

Will Rader post

  • USSF "A" License
  • ODP
  • La Roca Football Club
  • Wasatch Soccer Club
  • Weber State University
  • "Train hard and become a BETTER player today – don't wait until tomorrow."

 

 

 

 

SARA BUIE COWLEY / Assistant Coach

Buie post

  • USSF "C" License
  • Sparta United Soccer Club
  • Brighton High School
  • Jordan High School
  • ODP
  • "Train hard, play hard, put your heart into what you're doing and enjoy the journey."

 

 

 

 

MARK DAVIS / Assistant Coach

Mark Davis post

  • NCSAA Advanced National Diploma
  • BYU Hawaii Men's and Women's Head Coach
  • Director of Coaching, Olympia FC
  • Surf SC
  • Masters in Coaching and Athletic Administration, Concordia University - Irvine
  • "Attack with 6 and defend with 11."

Stephanie Verdoia Drafted to NWSL

Former Real Salt Lake Women player, Stephanie Verdoia has been drafted to the NWSL Boston Breakers. We caught up with her to get some advice for young players and a little reflection on her time with RSL Women. How long have you been playing soccer? If from a young age – did you fall in love instantly or has it been a process over the years?

I have been playing soccer since I was 4. I fell in love instantly, I loved it from the very beginning and never lost that love for the game. 

What advice do you have for the young girls trying to balance of of life's activities, school and soccer?

For young girls trying to balance school and soccer I would say: I know it's very very challenging. I always had more going on then my school friends. But if you love it then keep working hard at both and use your time wisely to study. Don't worry about missing out on certain activities because you are creating some of the strongest bonds of friendship through your team so it is worth it to sacrifice for. And if you keep working hard at both it will help you develop as a person and give you greater opportunities in the future. 

Do you feel playing for RSL Women pre-college and during college helped you in any way prepare and develop to become a pro soccer player?

Playing for the WPSL in Utah really helped develop me as a player. In a technical and tactical sense, but mostly from the opportunity to play with women that loved the game more than anyone I had met. It helped me understand the sacrifices people make to play this game, and the amazing rewards that come from it. The atmosphere was closer to what a professional team I imagine will be like, even more than college. The competition and traveling and relationships are different than college and challenged me to be ready for the next step. 

Can you share any coaches/players or experiences that you can remember that standout during your time playing in the WPSL in the state of Utah?

I had some great experiences with Annie Hawkins when I played. She instilled a lot of confidence in me and helped me climb to the next level. I remember getting to the final four in Florida two years ago and being so proud to play on the same field as her. She was an amazing captain and helped me believe in myself, something I still cherish today as a reason why I have become a professional soccer player. 

2015 Head Coach Announced

We'd like to introduce the newest member of RSL Wmn, Head Coach Jeff Ginn. He's ready to take on 2015 with us.

  • USSF “B” License
  • Celtic Storm Soccer Club Council Bluffs Futbol Club Infinity Soccer Club
  • Timpanogos H.S. William Penn Univ. Iowa Western C.C
  • “The team with the best 11 individuals that play for each other win more often than they lose.”

You can follow Coach Ginn on Twitter @coachjginn and Instagram @coachjginn