Playoff preview: Rough Riders at New England
10
Jul 2019

The Long Island Rough Riders women’s team travels to unbeaten New England Mutiny in the United Women’s Soccer East Conference semifinals on Friday, July 12.

Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. from Lusitano Stadium in Ludlow, Mass.

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The No. 4 Rough Riders (5-5-0) qualified for the four-team East Conference playoffs against No. 1 New England (8-0-2) thanks to a 3-1 win against Syracuse DA in the season finale on July 6.

No. 2 Connecticut Fusion (8-0-2) hosts No. 3 Lancaster Inferno (7-3-0) in the other semifinal.

The two semifinal winners meet in the East Conference final hosted by the higher remaining seed on Sunday, July 14 with the winner advancing to the four-team UWS National Championship (July 19-21).

“Any time you make the playoffs in any competition it’s a good feeling,” Rough Riders head coach Karim Diallo said. “It was one of our goals from the start and we achieved it. We will just try to improve daily and hopefully we are stronger mentally and ready to battle a very good team in New England.”

Long Island had an up-and-down regular season. After alternating wins and losses in the first three matches, the Rough Riders won three straight (outscoring opponents 10-0 during that stretch) before a three-game skid heading into the regular-season finale. Long Island trailed Syracuse DA by two points in the standings heading into that match, needing a victory to secure the fourth and final seed in the East Conference playoffs.

“​We wanted to redeem ourselves from the previous bad loss,” Diallo said of the 5-0 defeat at Syracuse on June 29. “We came out strong to start the game even though we conceded the first goal. We did good things and getting the goal right before halftime was big in the course of the game.”

New England Mutiny earned the top seed in the conference playoffs thanks to goal differential, outscoring Connecticut +23 to +21. The Fusion defeated winless Worcester 3-0 in their regular-season finale, but couldn’t overtake New England’s tally.

The Mutiny, who come into the playoffs riding a three-game winning streak and with six wins in their past seven, are lead by UWS top scorer Kate Howarth. Howarth leads the league in goals (18) and points (40). She had three goals in New England’s 4-2 win against Long Island on May 18; it was the teams’ only meeting this season.

“Kate is having a wonderful season on a very good team,” Diallo said. “We will try our best to be solid as a team and make sure defensively we are one unit.”

BY: Michael LoRé
Staff Writer