USL Weekly Report 5/27-6/2

An analysis of Morris Elite’s USL W and USL 2 teams’ gameplay this past week  by Liza Katz and Grace Cannizzo

MADISON NJ – In the third week of the 2024 USL season, neither the men’s and women’s USL Morris Elite teams lost a game – the USL 2 side collecting a 1-1 draw versus rival FC Motown and their USL W League counterparts beating Paisley Athletic FC 6-2.

With both Morris Elite and FC Motown’s USL 2 sides looking for their first win of the season on Wednesday, May 29th, both teams came out of the locker rooms looking for the lead. But it was FC Motown that struck first by way of the team’s leading scorer, Maxwell Murray, in the fourth minute. The University of Vermont senior calmly controlled a one-touch pass and slotted the ball past Matias Molina for the 1-0 lead. 

After going down early, Morris Elite did not let that phase them, growing into the game well and dominating the offensive opportunities in the final 20 minutes of the first half. However, they were unable to find the back of the net before halftime. 

While FC Motown still held their 1-0 lead after 45 minutes, things changed quickly in the second half. “We came back as a team,” explained Head Coach Donato Curci. “We were definitely more energetic and ready to fight.”

Morris Elite found momentum in the 46th minute: Defender and NJIT player, Matt Moran was at the right place at the right time, collecting a blocked attempt from halftime substitute and Columbia University junior Ryan Kipness, who made his season debut with the team. Moran knocked a rocket of a shot past the gloves of FC Motown’s keeper, to make it a 1-1 game.

Coach Curci took note of these contributing substitutes, such as Kipness, as he mentioned, “We made a couple of substitutes that definitely helped the team and we decided to play more direct due to their high pressure.”

Soon after, the weather soon became a factor, as the storms that had been threatening all night intensified, and in the 71st minute, the game was put in a lightning delay. It was called soon after, and as USL rules dictate that the results of any game that is delayed and declared unplayable past the 70th minute will stand, the contest ended at 1-1. 

Then, this past Saturday, Morris Elite faced the Westchester Flames. The game was scoreless going into the second half but things changed from the 60th minute when the Flames scored, putting them up 1-0.

However, 12 minutes later, Matthew Yi, the striker and incoming sophomore at Hofstra University, responded, knocking a crossed ball into the back of the net.

Following that, just two minutes later, the flames found another goal, advancing the score to 2-1. Although Morris Elte fought hard and saw chances, the game ultimately ended 2-1.

The men will continue USL 2 play next Wednesday, June 5th, returning to Frederick Douglass Field at Rutgers University – Newark, taking on Manhattan Soccer Club at 7:30pm. It can be streamed on Morris Elite’s YouTube Channel.

Due to those same weather complications, the women’s game against the Cedar Stars never kicked off. The game will be rescheduled.

Despite the postponement, the team moved forward with their schedule, taking on Paisley Athletic FC on Saturday. This is the second time that these teams have faced off this season, with Morris Elite besting Paisley 9-1 with a hat trick from Henna Andican, two goals each from Kelly Severini and Allie Post, and tallies from Natalia Ramirez and Gillian Poiesz back on May 22nd. 

After 30 scoreless minutes, the teams scored three goals in the final 15 minutes of the first half. The home side got the scoring going in the 30th minute, with Loyola Marymount’s Grace DenBleyker finding the back of the net for the first time this season with a crucial touch past opposing goalkeeper Rebecca Kessler. Ramirez got on the board against Paisley once again just six minutes later, sending a low cross into the mix which found its way into the net after hitting the back post. Paisley then narrowed the halftime deficit to 2-1 with a volley off the foot of Abby Droner with the final kick of the half. 

However, Morris Elite did not let this late goal deflate them. A goal from captain Kelly Severini just five minutes into the second half sparked an offensive onslaught. Head Coach Stephanie Savino credited team cohesion for their big second half, saying, ”it was great… seeing how we execute[d] on the attacks and how our chemistry continues to build throughout the 90 minutes, regardless of what changes we’re making.”

This was evident in not just who scored, but how they did so. Rutgers forward Allie Post netted on a beautiful turn-and-shot opportunity from outside the box in the 55th minute to make it 4-1. Then, Brown’s Angelina Vargas netted twice — once off of a one-on-one opportunity with Kessler, and once with a beautiful curling shot to the back post side netting from 20 yards out — to make it 6-1 in favor of the home side. While a goal from Paisley’s Nickolette Driesse closed the scoring, Morris Elite stayed undefeated on the season with a 6-2 victory. 

The women will face Manhattan Soccer Club tomorrow, Monday, June 3rd, on the road at Marillac Field at the College of Mount Saint Vincent at 8pm. It will be live-streamed on the Coach’s Corner NYC Youtube Channel. They will then travel to face AC Connecticut on Saturday, June 8th at 3pm. That game can be streamed on SportEngine Play.