WPSL Central Region preview

In overview, we have many derbies to salivate over and we have a far-too-large Northern conference. We will be covering all of the Central region except for the Mountain Conference. As ever, there’s been reshuffling:

Research from the league suggests that sixty-nine percent of WPSL players are rostered on teams from their hometown’s metro area. I have no comparison point but this figure seems to track, given the high number of youth-to-WPSL clubs in our region.

In case you are wondering, the winners of the Heartland and Northern Conferences will each get 1 spot in the Central Region playoffs. The champions of the National Road and Lake Michigan divisions of the Midwest Conference will play each other for 1 berth. The champions of the two divisions of the Mountain Conference will likewise play-in for 1 spot in the playoffs. It’s a punishing league to be in, in terms of looking for silverware.


AFC Columbia. The team from the capital of Missouri has a young squad, with a handful of NAIA players and a couple of D1 players (Sophia Elfrink, Haley Steinke), and one D2 player (Maddy Schrader) sprinkled in.

Lou Fusz Athletic are one of two St. Louis clubs to step into the void left by Fire & Ice’s departure. LFA was founded by its namesake in the 1990s. Their Creve Coeur, MO complex is home to soccer, lacrosse and gridiron. The roster is exclusively made up of current NCAA D1 and D2 players, even as a first year side and despite recruitment from the other club in town.

St Louis Scott Gallagher are based 13 miles South, at the former home of St. Louis FC in Fenton, MO but they also list Creve Coeur amongst their facilities. In a historical soccer city, SLSG’s predecessors stretch all the way back to the 1970s and the history of company-sponsors names (in this case Scott-Gallagher metals) The players they have announced are all D1 players.

Kansas City Scott Gallagher are one of three teams in the Kansas City metropolitan area , in their case based in Lee’s Summit, MO. They are affiliated with SLSG. The roster is extensively made up of D1 and D2 athletes, with a smattering of high school kids mixed in.

Over to the west in Overland Park, Kansas, KC Courage make their move from the UWS with a roster dominated by D1 athletes, and three D1 graduates (Georgia Vernardakis, Taylor Wagner, Kaylin Williams) and players from NAIA schools also listed.

Lastly, sitting just on the Missouri side of the border with Kansas, the Sunflower state, Sunflower State FC complete the triumvirate of KC clubs. The roster is structured around NAIA and NCAA D2 players, and capped with the D1 athlete Jaylie Hicklin. 

In a very compact conference, the longest road trip is the 250 miles from Kansas City to St Louis and the shortest is a short jog across the Kansas City metro for KCSG or Courage. I expect Lou Fusz to finish on top of this conference.

Midwest — Lake Michigan

Chicago KICS are proudly based on the southside of Chicago. Their public roster is incomplete and out of date.

Milwaukee Torrent are firmly settled in Wauwatosa, WI — next door to the city of Milwaukee. Their team is made up of current D1 and D2 players, with one member of the roster playing D3 ball (and one former D1 athlete who is now a D1 coach).

Iowa Raptors are based in Cedar Rapids, IA. There is no public information on the makeup of their squad.

Midwest Select SA Muskrats are based in St. John, IN — an hour south of Chicago. The roster is headlined by D1 athletes Kailyn Smith, Olivia Hansen and Kayla Green. Added to this are players from the D2, D3, NJCAA and NAIA levels as well as some high schoolers.

Quad Cities Rush are based in Davenport, IA. The roster features D1 athletes Emily Bollman, Madison Bulin, Caroline Hazen and Morgan Rinker, as well D2, D3 and NAIA players. One player plays on a school which is sanctioned by the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (I have to admit that I know next to nothing about the level of their competition). There is a former athlete who is now a physical therapist. They will hope that this season is better for them than their rookie year in the WPSL.

This conference lost a rivalry when Bavarians moved to USL W but there is potential for KICS — Torrent or Raptors — Rush to develop into rivalries.

The longest trip is from Milwaukee the Quad Cities, at 211 miles. The shortest is the Iowa Raptors to Quad Cities Rush (82 miles)

Midwest — National Road

Columbus Eagles are based in Bexley, OH. Their roster is not yet announced.

Dayton Dutch Lions are based in West Carrolton, OH. Suzy Hayes is a D1 player on a roster of D2, D3 and NAIA players.

FC Dayton is based in Centerville, OH. Their roster is dominated by current D1 talent and also includes D2 and D3 players.

FC Pride are based in Indianapolis. They could field an 11 exclusively of D1 players, and have enough for a deep bench.

FC Spirit are based in Evansville, IN. A young squad is capped by a quartet of D1 players in Ryleigh Anslinger, Annah Hopkins, Camryn LaGrange and Kaylee Woosley.

This is certainly aptly named National Road. The longest road trip is Evansville to Columbus at 330 miles, whereas the shortest is the 7.5 miles between Centerville and West Carrollton. One of the few ‘road trips’ in the WPSL which could be a brisk walk.


The Northern conference continues to grow, with the puzzling addition of St Croix (whose men’s team is in USL L2). This was too large last year, and got even more so this year — at least the geographical footprint didn’t expand *that* much. Please, WPSL, for the love of all that’s holy, split this conference in two next year. After all, that solution has already been adopted across the entire remainder of this region.

As addressed in my NPSL preview Dakota Fusion are out on an island up in Fargo-Moorhead (North Dakota/Minnesota border), a situation even more extreme in this league — since there is no Duluth women’s team. They have a new head coach, who has an interesting bio. The roster is headlined by D1 athletes Ashleigh Heeley, Olivia Watson and McKenna Strand, backed by a D2-heavy roster and a sprinkling of players from NAIA schools.

Down the I-29, Sioux Falls City are rolling into their second season having made waves during their expansion season. Karoline Riisnaes leads the club’s D1 contingent, joined by Delaney Kenney, Mary Perez, Rylee Haldeman, McKenna Lehman, Hailee Fischer and Barbie Castellanos as well as players from D2 and NAIA levels.

Mankato United is led by Maggie Smither, both a D1 goalkeeper and volunteer coach and Ella White. The roster is dominated by the D2 powerhouse Minnesota State Mankato. A notable absentee is future pro Jenny Vetter, who graduated last season.

Down US 14, Rochester United is one of three different organizations operating in the Med City (with separate clubs operating NPSL and USL W squads too). Their roster is led by D1 players Haley Archuleta, Ashley Concolino, Sienna Latta, Briana Johnson, Samara Nunn, Kiara Oliver and Maysa Walters.


Now we move on to the six teams clustered around the Twin Cities.

Joy Athletic in St Louis Park are anchored by Katharine Ashley, Ella Bryant, Ella Clow and Ceilidh Whynott. Also worth noting is Lennon Folstad, whose brother plays for the Goats in NPSL. The club is the tip of the Joy of the People youth club.

Manitou FC in White Bear Lake  is led by Molly Knoblauch and Anna Koepke and backed by D2 and high school players from the area.

The limited roster listed for Maplebrook Fury in Maple Grove features D1 athletes Abby Brantner, Brooke Davies, Kaitlynn Delveaux, Annika Eckroth, Izzy Smith, Jasmine Gates and Hannah Zahn.

Minnesota Thunder in Richfield is easily the most famous name in this crowded area, and its academy is a veritable factory of talent. This year’s WPSL squad includes enough D1 athletes to fill the roster. They also feature a US U21 player in Caroline Smith.

Salvo SC in Roseville has been the class of the conference and made it to the national quarterfinals last season. They are led by Molly Fiedler, fresh from professional play and currently coaching at D3, and her team mate in Serbia Emily Heslin, together with a panoply of D1 talent.

St Croix Soccer Club in Stillwater is led by D1 players Abby Carlson, Jenna Hallen, Lauren Heinsch, Olivia Knoepfle, Liv Muehlberg, Avery Murdzek, Elayna Murdzek, Jenna Nyblom and Anna Wagner, and backed by a handful of D2 players.


I think Salvo and Thunder will once again fight for the one and only WPSL playoff spot from this conference.


This week’s fixtures


Sunflower State v KC Courage


FC Dayton v FC Pride


Joy Athletic v Manitou FC

Sunflower State v AFC Columbia


St Croix v MapleBrook Fury

KC Courage v St Louis Scott Gallagher