Charge players were at least this happy after clinching a playoff spot
The ASA Chesapeake Charge continue to earn honors. Last week they clinched a playoff spot. Then they flew out to Kansas City to participate in the USASA’s Women’s National Championship and came home with the cup for best amateur team. Tonight they easily downed the Tidewater Sharks, 7-0, to clinch first place in WPSL’s South Atlantic Division and to retain their undefeated record.
It took only three minutes for central defender Jess Hnatiuk to come forward and send in a hopeful shot from outside the box that nevertheless went over Tidewater goalkeeper Jesseca Thompson and under the crossbar for the first goal. And then while I was still typing the tweet for that goal, the Charge came back with Alexis Prior-Brown coming in on the left and crossing to Cheyenne Skidmore, who knocked it in. Prior-Brown would score herself four minutes later off a beautiful feed from Julianne Boyle. Sixteen minutes in Riley Barger would send in a slow roller that Thompson somehow whiffed on and let just in the left post. In the 38th minute some nice passing on the right led to the fourth goal, with Alexa Quaranta getting the ball right to Kelly Whittaker’s feet in front of the goalmouth. Whittaker found a little space and chipped it in high while falling. The score at halftime was 5-0.
Boyle would score herself in the 65th minute, slipping through the line, getting Thompson to commit and go to ground, then tapping the ball into the open net. The final goal would come in the 83rd minute with a great through ball to Whittaker on the left, who brought it forward and then crossed to Sofia Read, who hammered it into the upper netting.
And, yes, the seven goals came from seven different players. That’s how dangerous this team has become.
Hnatiuk, one of the few players who’ve been with the team all four years, was ebullient afterwards about winning the division. “It feels awesome. We’ve been working hard. That’s been our goal since we started four years ago. And we finally accomplished it. It wasn’t easy. We struggled, we played hard, and ultimately we came through. And it’s a great feeling.”
I noted that they were just playing for home field advantage at this point. She agreed but noted that it’s not a small issue. “Home field advantage is huge in the playoffs. Anytime you can play at home, you know your field the best, you have your fans, you don’t have to travel.”
She also thought that the team was coming together well. “Things definitely are starting to click now. We’ve got the system down. We’re playing well. We know how each other plays. We’re playing off each other, and it’s just working. Hopefully it continues to work for the next ones.”
Marisa Kresge serves a ball in as Riley Barger awaits
Marisa Kresge agreed. “We’re really playing well together, moving the ball around. It’s perfect timing with the playoffs coming up. ”
Kresge has been a solid but quiet part of the team all season but emerged as a star in the USASA tournament, scoring two game-winning goals along with an assist. “I started off this season in the back, trying outside back. Then I made the switch when we were in Kansas City up top, and I liked it a lot. I was finding success. Our forwards are really fast, and I can play off them a lot more because I’m not going to outrun anybody. So I can check back and lay the ball off and be more creative for them. So we found success in that way, and in Kansas City it worked out.”
She also thought it was worthwhile participating in the tournament, as taxing as it was to make the trip and to play games on a tight schedule. “It was hard playing four games in three days, but I think it showed what kind of team we were because we were able to pull it out when we needed to. We still moved the ball around. We didn’t give in to being tired. We didn’t let the mental side get to us, which was great.”
The Charge head north on Sunday to play the Philadelphia Fever, where a win would ensure them home field advantage through the conference playoffs. The WPSL postseason begins the following Saturday, July 13, when the team will host the #2 team in the Tri-State Division at 4 pm at Arundel High. The second-round match will take place the following day, and the conference championship – the winner of which would go to California for the WPSL Final Four – would take place the following weekend.