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After break, Western New York Flash poised for stretch run

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

Although it’s been nearly two weeks since Western New York last played a match, the club has kept busy through attention to detail on the pitch and extra involvement in the local community.

The respite was welcomed after the Flash played an arduous six games in 16 days, earning 14 of a possible 18 points in that span. Aaran Lines’ club is unbeaten over the last eight contests. Four matches remain in Western New York’s regular season slate, and the stretch run begins at home Sunday against the ASA Chesapeake Charge.

“We’ve put in a lot of good work [over the break,]” Flash head coach Aaran Lines said. “Hopefully we see the fruits of our labor in these next four matches.”

The match: Western New York Flash (6-1-3) vs. ASA Chesapeake Charge (1-7-2)
The venue: Sahlen’s Stadium, 460 Oak St., Rochester
The time: 4 p.m. Sunday
Last match: WNY tied New England 3-3; ASA Chesapeake fell to Boston 3-1.

1) Camps, clinics and racing: Three community activities filled the Flash’s week following the tie against New England. The club hosted the annual Flash soccer camp at Sahlen’s Sports Park, inviting local youth to train with Aaran Lines and the Flash team inside a professional facility.

To cater to young fans from Rochester as well, the Flash held a Friday clinic that featured an exhibition contest against the Empire United Boys’ U-17 team followed by on-field instruction with the Flash players. The effort benefited the charity Women Helping Girls, a one-on-one mentoring program geared toward 6th to 12th grade girls in the Rochester area.

“It was great to get out in the community,” Lines explained. “We had 250 kids attend the [Friday] clinic.”

The weekend was equally as rewarding for the Flash, who traveled to Watkins Glen in support of Team Sahlen Racing. Western New York Flash owner Joe Sahlen was a driver in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series’ Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen on Sunday, and Flash players aided in the official start and the award ceremony.

2) Home-field advantage for the playoffs: WPSL Elite announced that all post-season contests would be held at Sahlen’s Stadium, the home of the Western New York Flash. The two semifinals will be held at 5 p.m. (2nd seed vs. 3rd seed) and 8 p.m. (1st seed vs. 4th seed) on Wednesday, July 25, with the championship following at 1 p.m. Saturday.

After beating the Philadelphia Independence in last year’s WPS Championship at Sahlen’s Stadium, the Flash are no strangers to hosting big matches.

“We’ve played very well at home this year, too,” Lines admitted. “You can see from the [players’] level of confidence that [Sahlen’s Stadium] is a comfort zone, a place where they feel relaxed.”

3) Practice update: Troubled by the three goals allowed against New England, Lines paid significant attention to addressing the Flash’s defensive miscues.

“We were fine-tuning things this week,” he said, “getting ourselves in the right frame of mind. We’re working on our defensive shape but also our understanding in the final [attacking] third.”

In the first meeting between the two clubs, Western New York seized a 2-0 win behind a brace from Adriana. Still, Lines warned against counterattacks from the ASA Chesapeake Charge.

“[The Charge] have some very quick strikers and are a very direct team,” Lines explained. “We’ll have to transition quickly if we lose the ball – we need to get [defensive] pressure on the ball immediately.

Chesapeake’s most dangerous striker, Alexis Prior-Brown, may not be available for Sunday’s contest after an injury sustained against the New York Fury. Prior-Brown did not suit up for last weekend’s contest against FC Indiana or Friday’s clash with the Boston Breakers. Without the Charge’s speedy striker, Chesapeake relies on midfield play from youngsters Riley Barger, Ashley Spivey and Brittany Hadaway as well as solid goalkeeping from duo Erin Quinn and Lyndse Hokanson. 

Can Western New York start the run to the postseason with a convincing victory?

TAGGED: aaran lines, adriana, flash soccer camp, sahlen's stadium, watkins glen, western new york flash, wny flash, wpsl elite

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