WPSL National Finals Review


Charlotte Eagles (South) 1-0 Rhode Island Rogues (East)

The Eastern Wildcard winners faced the Southeast Conference’s Eagles. Rhode Island conceded a ninetieth minute equalizer in their Championship game but went ahead again in stoppage time. Charlotte won the South after rallying from a 4-1 deficit to take a 5-4 lead in the third minute of Extra Time.

The first half of this game was mostly Charlotte on the front foot and Rhode Island on the counter through Hannah McNulty. Within the first five minutes, the Eagles had a corner headed off the goal line. McNulty countered with a long shot in the seventh minute, safely caught. A corner for the Rogues was headed wide by Rebecca Lancaster in the tenth minute. Flanders had a long shot wide for Charlotte in the thirteenth minute. Three minutes later, the Eagles had a half-volley from a corner saved. They had another chance in the twentieth minute. RI keeper Jessica Kasacek went down with a head injury but with no recognized keeper on their bench, she was cleared to continue. Taylor Suarez dominated play on both flanks but could not find a breakthrough. There was also a strong showing for Faith Adams for the Eagles. However, the first half of regulation finished with no goals.

The Rogues had some early pressure in the second half and a shot cleared off the line. In the fifty-second minute, Suarez had a shot saved by the legs of Kasacek, and then she sped past the left back on another attack but still could not find a telling pass or shot. The Eagles increased the pressure, with shots from outside by Labbell and Suarez. By the seventy-fifth minute, Charlotte had reasserted dominance and the Rogues were unable to break into their attacking third. They finally broke through in the eighty-ninth minute when Taylor Suarez dribbled in from her position on the left wing and slotted the ball in at Kasacek’s near post. It was a deserved winner for the Eagles but will be a bitter pill for the hard-fighting Rogues – and Kasacek in particular – to swallow.

Salvo SC (Central) 2-0 SC Del Sol (West)

From a Wildcard entry into the playoffs, to a spot in the National semifinals, Salvo’s season has been a tale of battling for top spot. They faced West Region champs SC Del Sol, who knocked off defending National champions California Storm 1-0.

The first half saw SC del Sol with the majority of possession, but Salvo have picked their moments, including in the eighth minute when scrambling defense in their own penalty area was quickly converted to a solo counter attack goal by Katelyn Beulke. Both sides had, and missed, chances from corners and Salvo failed to capitalize on aggressive goalkeeping by the SDS keeper, sweeping clear.

The difference in the second half, as it has frequently been, was Khyah Harper. In the fifty-fifth minute, Jessica Hunt floated a cross right into the path of Harper for a tap in and the game’s second goal. Both sides attacked, but Gagner rarely looked under pressure and it is the team from the North who moved on to the Final and a chance to achieve something no other Minnesota women’s soccer club has done, win a championship.

Final – Charlotte Eagles 1-0 Salvo Soccer Club

The two championship newcomers, the missionaries and the youngsters, matched up. Charlotte’s Taylor Suarez reprised her semifinal role of wing marauder, most notably in the twenty-seventh minute when she brought a smart save out of Ayden Gagner in the Salvo net. Salvo applied pressure but did not burst away on the counter like they did in the semifinals.  In the forty-first minute, a Salvo free kick on the left touch line pinballed around the box and eventually results in a shot on goal. Saved by Blair Barefoot in the Eagles goal. The two teams’ styles were playing out to their full with Salvo absorbing pressure in hopes of a counter and Eagles playing deep balls over the top of the defense and down the wings.

Salvo pinned the Eagles back in their defensive third at the start of the second half, and then it settled into an end-to-end pattern. In the fifty-seventh minute, Jessica Hunt over hit a cross and it nearly beat Barefoot to the post, but went wide. Katherine Jones left the field injured and was helped across the field (all the way across, I can’t believe that an-arm-under-the-shoulder was the most effective way to get her all the way across). In the sixty-ninth minute, a Meredith Haakenson ball just missed Khyah Harper.

In the seventy-second minute, a sequence which would cause resentment after it occurred. A handball was signaled by the assistant referee and the referee spotted the ball on the top of the penalty area, inches from the line. With Eagles defenders furiously protesting that it wasn’t a penalty, Khyah Harper stepped up to the ball and put it in the goal. Then the referee blew his whistle and consulted the AR, before disallowing Harper’s goal and re-spotting the ball on the line. The eventual free kick went low and out for a goal kick.

Six minutes later, Suarez hit the post and failed to score. In the eighty-sixth minute, Suarez had another shot blocked, this time by her own player. In the end it was Kelly Flanders who scored the winner, blasting home after Ashlynn Serepca had an initial attempt.

So, a controversial way for the missionaries to win their first WPSL trophy and the wait for a trophy goes on for Minnesotans.


Thank you to everyone for following our WPSL coverage this season.