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  • John "Mountain" Rice

What's Better Than 1? What's Better Than 1?! TWO!!! It's Better Than One!


It was March 6, 2022 at the Grand Park Event Center in Westfield, IN, a new soccer league in the USA kicked off their inaugural season. For the first time in Indy Eleven's 9 years of existence, 11 women would wear Lady Victory on the pitch for 90 minutes. Indy Eleven & Kings Hammer FC (Cincinnati, OH/Northern Kentucky,) set the tone for what was to come in the newest addition to the USL pyramid, the USL W League. That opening match would see a side of bleachers filled with families, local youth clubs, & of course the Brickyard Battalion. Our ladies in blue would end up winning the inaugural match by a score of 3-1. After a 12 match season, our ladies in blue would finish the season 10-0-2 (W-L-D,) and secure first place in the Great Lakes Division. Sadly the dream of winning a championship in the first season would be squashed in the quarterfinals as the ladies went up to Minnesota Aurora FC and would fall 2-1. Nonetheless the ladies had a phenomenal first year.

With the USL W League officially being a pre-professional league, most if not all of the ladies playing are college student-athletes. Most are looking for extra playing time during the college offseason and some, if not all, are looking to get their names in the door of professional programs. It's also a time for college programs to possibly scout players who might be in the transfer portal or are still in high school. Yes that's right, high school players also have an opportunity to play in the USL W League. Head coach Paul Dolinsky offered opportunities for a handful of high schoolers to practice with the club and some of them got to dress and play in matches during the 2022 season.

So, what's next for Indy's second club within the USL ranks? Well, it's the 2023 season. On February 14. 2023, the USL announced the Conference & Divisional lineups across the W League. Last year Indy Eleven was in the Great Lakes Division. This year they, along with Racing Louisville FC & Kings Hammer FC, have moved to the Valley Division within the Central Conference. Joining the Indy Eleven, Racing Louisville FC, & Kings Hammer FC for 2023 is Lexington SC (Lexington, KY) & St. Charles FC (Northwest St. Louis, MO.) Lexington SC also has a USL L1 team and St. Charles FC has a Pre-USL Academy, USL Academy & a USL L2 program. From what we can gather from the St. Charles FC website (stc2020fc.com) they entered the USL pyramid in 2020. Meanwhile, 2023 will be Lexington SC's inaugural season as a club for both their L1 and W League sides.

During the 2022 campaign, Indy Eleven had a 3-1 victory and a 1-1 draw against Kings Hammer FC & a 2-0 victory followed by a 3-1 victory against Racing Louisville FC. Based on an interview between Greg Rakestraw, Brad Hauter, & Paul Dolinsky during the men's preseason match against Indiana Wesleyan on February 14, 2023, there are currently 3 ladies from the 2022 season out on pre-season contracts with NWSL clubs & one player who has signed with a European club. At the time of the interview, no one was at liberty to say who the player was nor the club they signed for. There are other players that Dolinsky vaguely mentioned, who are not coming back for the 2023 campaign. Wheter that's for personal reasons or a coaching decision. Dolinsky is hopeful that the 2023 roster is able to continue the success they had during the 2022 season. At the time of writing this, there are no player announcements for the women's side.

This season, the W League has announced that there will be "four regional conferences, Eastern, Central, Southern & Western - which will affect the 2023 playoff structure." The Central Conference consists of the Valley Division, Great Lakes Division, & the Heartland Division. Information about the playoff structure has yet to be announced. To learn more about the Conference & Division alignments, head on over to https://www.uslwleague.com/news_article/show/1259591

The USL W League announced on February 14, 2023 that the schedule will be released on February 21st, 2023. Be sure you are following all of Indy Eleven's social media accounts (twitter, instagram, & facebook for the most up to date information,) as well as the clubs website, https://www.indyeleven.com/wleague/. You can also follow the USL W League on the same social media accounts for the latest information on all things happening within the W League as well as their website, https://www.uslwleague.com/.


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