In Their Best Finish Since Their 2018 Inaugural Season, SUSA FC Beat Rhode Island Rogues 5-2 in Division Championship Saturday
Published Jul 26, 2021
Photo Credits:  SUSA FC Media


It was championship weekend in the North Division of the Metropolitan Conference and Saturday saw the high-powered SUSA FC claim the title against the Rhode Island Rogues with a well-earned 5-2 victory.


The victory saw SUSA maintain their dominant form this season, with the champions claiming the division title on an undefeated record and an almost impenetrable defense. This would be SUSA’s best finish since entering the league in 2018.


Unlike the Metropolitan South Division where the finalists qualified for the championship match through a tournament format, SUSA FC and the Rhode Island Rogues found their way to their division championship based on their position at the end of the regular-season standings.

SUSA ran the table in the Metro North, going a perfect seven-for-seven in division play and rarely looked in threat of doing anything to the contrary. Controlling the top spot in the division from match one, SUSA dominated their competition – scoring 34 goals while only allowing three against and recording four shutouts.


Their goal-scoring prowess was perhaps best exemplified through their relentless attacking of Fox Soccer Academy in both meetings this season. SUSA completely overpowered the WPSL newcomers 9-1 on June 5th and 11-0 on June 19th with six different scorers getting on the board in that match, including four goals from Holy Cross forward Samantha Adams and three from St. John’s University sophomore midfielder Jessica Garziano.


In comparison, Rhode Island didn’t have as easy of a time throughout this season as they split their eight-match schedule with four wins and four losses. The Rogues found themselves in third position at the end of regular-season play, outside of the picture to qualify for the championship final but were granted the chance to compete for silverware after the higher ranked VT Fusion opted out of the postseason.


While the Rogues were able to score consistently, registering 18 goals and scoring at least a goal in each of their matches, they often struggled to prevent the opposition from outscoring them as the club conceded 15 in the regular-season. This struggle saw standout victories like their 7-0 win over Fox Soccer Academy put off balance by lopsided losses like their 5-2 and 5-1 defeats at the hands of VT Fusion.


Entering the league together in 2018, the two have met four times during their first two seasons with SUSA holding reign over the Rogues by winning three of the last four matchups. The Metro North Championship match saw these two sides face off for the first time this season and SUSA was able to quickly identify and exploit this exact defensive vulnerability present in this Rhode Island squad.


SUSA came out with an obvious intent to begin on the front foot and struck quickly and frequently in the first 45 through Garzano, Duquesne University junior midfielder Sarah Wilkinson, and Georgetown sophomore defender Paige Leonard to take a commanding 3-0 lead into the half.


Garzano, who had been a reliable contributor for SUSA during the regular-season through both her playmaking and goalscoring, wasted no time putting her side ahead in the 7’. Picking up the ball at the top of the Rogues’ 18, Garzano was able to slice through the opposition’s defense, drift out to her left and fire a low, driven shot into the bottom corner of the net to open the scoring.


Midway through the first half, Wilkinson, on her way to a Player of the Match performance, picked up a pacy, mid-height through-ball from Leonard and fired a volley past the Rogues goalkeeper to double their lead in the 23’.


At the close of the first half, Leonard turned from provider to poacher in the 43’ while taking it upon herself to score the third by following up a well-worked SUSA attack and tucking away a goalmouth rebound to send her side into the break with a dominant hold of the match.


Through 45’, SUSA looked every bit of the dominant force that has led the division from start to finish – leaving the Rogues with an island to climb in their pursuit of the championship.


Coming out of the break, the Rogues were able to strike back from the penalty spot through midfielder Kaitlyn Lima to get them on the scoreboard. Despite this quick response, Rhode Island was unable to truly build any consistent momentum from this goal and could not close the gap as the match wore on.


Wilkinson, further asserting her influence on this match for SUSA, was able to dash Rhode Island’s title hopes as she took possession in midfield and played a well-timed ball past the Rogues defense to send St. John’s senior midfielder Maia Cabrera, who masterfully timed her run to beat the Rogues’ offside trap, clean through on goal to finish past the keeper and re-establish SUSA’s three goal cushion.


From there, SUSA continued to press forward and control the match. Cabrera was able to double her own tally on the day and finish off a cross by getting on the end of a flicked-on header to score and put the match beyond all doubt at 5-1.


Despite Rhode Island’s fight to the very end, seeing them pull a goal back off a corner through midfielder Taylor Chianese would only be consolation as the match ended 5-2 to cap off SUSA’s impressive, undefeated season by claiming the conference title.


SUSA were at full value in the final and throughout the season, putting forth one of the most dominant title-winning campaigns in the WPSL this year with their 8-0-0 record. In their league best performance and their third season under their belt they hold an impressive overall record of 19-4-1 while outscoring their opponents 84/23. SUSA’s last loss came in a 3-0 defeat against New York Athletic Club on June 30, 2019.


This season was truly a remarkable season for head coach JR Bazlarini’s side and it’s an accomplishment these players won’t soon forget.



   Author - Ryan Lindsay,  @noryannorreason (Twitter)
   WPSL Contributor - East Region