Mutiny finds itself in new surroundings in 2012

Jenny Maurer is one of the local faces fans will see on the pitch for the Mutiny this season.
Reminder Publications submitted photo
May 14, 2012

By Chris Maza

WEST SPRINGFIELD — There are changes aplenty for the New England Mutiny.

The premier women's soccer team in Western Massachusetts has found itself in new surroundings, both in terms of the field it plays on and the league it competes in.

The Mutiny opened its season on May 12, its first game since it accepted an invitation to be a part of a new initiative from the Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) — the WPSL Elite League, which was created in response to the Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) league's February announcement that it would be suspending operation for the 2012 season.

The Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars and the Western New York Flash of the WPS joined six other teams, including the Mutiny, in order to sustain women's soccer as the WPS works toward reestablishing itself in 2013.

The decision was not an easy one, but one that needed to be made for the benefit of the sport, owner Joe Ferrara told Reminder Publications at the Mutiny's media day at "the Q," formerly QPin2's.

"It was only three months ago that the professional league ceased operations and I received a phone call to join this new venture and it took me forever to make that decision and figure out how we could pull it off in such a short time period," he said. "From a business sense it didn't make much sense, but the passion of the game that this organization has had and the ability to keep professional women's soccer alive, we thought, is very important."

The biggest obstacles standing in the way for the organization were all monetary.

"With the types of players we've had to go out and get, the travel that's required, and the professional standards you need to provide, it's basically triple the budget," Ferrara said. "All of those things need to be met and all of those cost money."

Teams in large metropolitan areas such as Boston and Chicago offer a stark contrast to the Mutiny's operations in Western Massachusetts.

"We're definitely doing it differently. It's definitely going to be a big grassroots initiative with a small-town team in a small market trying to play it big," Ferrara said.

In terms of meeting professional field standards, the Mutiny found a golden opportunity in the new turf field at East Longmeadow High School. After the town resolved its difficulties with the field's lighting, Ferrara decided to pursue an agreement with the town to utilize the updated facility.

"It's very exciting. It was unexpected, actually," he said. "Once we read in The Reminder that their lighting issues had been sorted out, we decided to put things on hold and see if we could work something out."

The response, Ferrara said, has been strong, something he was not surprised at, considering the praise a 2006 showcase match received. He credited several local groups with offering tremendous support.

"The response has been huge. East Longmeadow soccer has been all over it. It's one of the bigger associations in the area and they've been strong supporters in the past. The town has been great in terms of welcoming us and getting policies in place," he said. "The Parks and Recreation Department has been great as well in helping get the word out and selling tickets and promoting the program along with their programs."

In addition to the updated facilities, Ferrara said the field's location is perfect.

"Along with East Longmeadow, we get support from Wilbraham and Enfield, [Conn]., which are two more huge youth soccer associations, so we felt it was a great location," he said. "With our roster being a mix of Connecticut and Massachusetts players, the fact that we'll be accessible to both states also factors in."

Among the Western Massachusetts natives on the roster are Longmeadow's Kate McCarthy, a midfielder on Boston College's Sweet 16 women's soccer team, longtime Mutiny star and former Boston College standout Jenny Maurer, Ludlow native Caitlin Alves, former Minnechaug Regional High School stars Sarah Brochu and Danielle Dakin and West Springfield's Allie Fitzsimmons.

Mutiny Head Coach Tony Horta expressed his excitement in joining the new league, stating it provides a unique opportunity not only for the players, but for the fans.

"The community has been very supportive of the team and it's kind of a once in a lifetime opportunity for the community to see some of these players who are coming up and are going to be playing on national teams," he said.

Morgan Andrews, one of the top young American soccer talents, is one such player. The "U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year" finalist has quite the resume, having been named the 2011 National Soccer Coaches Association of America Youth Player of the Year and having been a member of U.S. National teams at the U-17, U-19 and U-23 levels. She has committed to play for Boston College next season.

Kristen Mewis is another high profile player who has joined the Mutiny's ranks. In 2010, Mewis was named New England Soccer News Player of the Year as a All-ACC First Team selection and earned NSCAA All-America & Soccer America MVP First Team accolades that season. She was a also member of the U-20 Women's National Team that competed in the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Germany in 2010 and the U.S. U-17 Women's World Cup team in 2008.

The influx of nationally and internationally recognized talent, fused with top national collegiate an local talent has Horta thinking very positively about this season.

"Our expectations are to compete and to make the playoffs," he said.

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