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.


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