SAN BRUNO, Calif. – The 2016 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Playoffs begin Sept. 30, and a total of eight West Coast Conference alums will vie for the NWSL title with their respective teams.
The top four teams in the NWSL standings qualify for the playoffs, and the four-team, single elimination tournament will feature the Chicago Red Stars, Portland Thorns, Washington Spirit and Western New York Flash. All four playoff teams feature at least one WCC former student-athlete, assuring that a WCC alum will be crowned a 2016 NWSL Champion.
The Spirit and Red Stars face off in the first semifinal Friday, Sept. 30 at 5 p.m. PT, and the second semifinal between the Thorns and Flash kicks off Sunday, Oct. 2 at 2 p.m. PT. The championship game is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 9 at 2 p.m. PT. All three games will air live on Fox Sports 1.
The top-seeded and NWSL Shield winning Portland Thorns feature a league-best four WCC alums in a pair of Portland Pilots and a pair of Santa Clara Broncos. The Thorns, the inaugural NWSL champions in the 2013 season, are led by captain Christine Sinclair in addition to fellow former Pilot Kendall Johnson. Katherine Reynolds and Mana Shim represent the Santa Clara Broncos on the Thorns squad hoping to become the first No. 1 seed to win the NWSL Playoffs.
Facing Portland will be the Western New York Flash team that is led by former Pepperdine Wave Lynn Williams. Williams is in the midst of a career season for the Flash, having won the 2016 Golden Boot award given to the player with the most goals scored over the course of the season. Williams, the No. 6 pick in the 2015 draft, netted 11 times in 19 games.
The Washington Spirit earned the No. 2 seed with a 12-3-5 record, two points shy of matching the Thorns for the best record in the league. One of the reasons that the Spirit have earned the best finish in team history is due to the play of former Santa Clara defender Alyssa Kleiner, who has played in 17 games with 12 starts as one of just seven players to see over 1,100 minutes on the pitch this season.
A pair of Broncos will also play for Chicago Red Stars in former teammates Sofia Huerta and Julie Johnston. Huerta started all 20 games and finished second on the team with seven goals with two assists for 16 points. Johnston started all 12 games that she played for the club after missing a portion of the season while competing with the United States Women’s National Team at the Olympic Games in Brazil.
Alyssa Kleiner, D, Santa Clara (2011-14)
WESTERN NEW YORK FLASH
Lynn Williams, F, Pepperdine Waves (2011-14)