Published Jul 23, 2022
Written By:  Andrew Mosier
             WPSL Contributor

Photos By:  Adam Luther (@alutherphoto)


STILLWATER, OKLA. — The California Storm fought through a relentless Nashville Rhythm F.C. attack and a lengthy weather delay to grind out a 1-0 WPSL Championship Semifinal win at Neal Patterson Stadium on Friday night.


The win advances the Storm to its fifth WPSL Championship Final match to face the Colorado Rapids Women on Sunday, July 24.


Storm co-captain Janae Gonzalez scored the match’s only goal with a perfectly taken free kick in the 18’ minute of an uncharacteristically disjointed contest that was magnified by a two-hour-and-25-minute stop in play due to lightning 33 minutes into the match.


“Tonight, it was all about fight...To win a game like that just shows the culture of the team,” Jamie Levoy, Storm head coach, said. “They went out there and fought for each other [and] they never gave up. Credit to Nashville, they have an incredible team [and] they made it incredibly difficult for us out there.”


From the opening whistle, Nashville looked to test the Storm backline with its trademark speed and physicality, forcing the Storm to pick and choose opportune moments to counter. The 18’ minute goal came as both teams looked to create opportunities with long, searching balls forward into space.



The goal came as the result of a foul on Storm midfielder Brenda Uribe on the left flak. Nashville defender Rebecca Campbell tackled Uribe down from behind before she could get a cross off into the crowded goalmouth from just outside the penalty area.


“When I saw them only put two players in the wall, I knew I wanted to go to the near post,” Gonzalez said. “The keeper was on the far post. All I had to do was hit it right.”


Gonzalez hit a flat, dipping ball over the Nashville wall to the upper corner. Once Nashville goalkeeper Maddie Elbro saw the ball clear the wall, it was too late.


The goal was the only shot on target the Storm had all match – Elbro was not credited with a single save.


Nashville’s pressure intensified after surrendering the goal. Twice before lightning in the area halted play in the 33’ minute, Nashville tested Storm goalkeeper Judit Gonzalez Oliveras, who was credited with seven saves on the night. Gonzalez Oliveras was also active off her line corralling balls played through to Nashville attackers. 


Two hours and 25 minutes after play was halted, Nashville picked up where it left off when the match resumed – pressing for an equalizer.


“We were happy with how we came back from the delay,” Scott Davidson, Rhythm head coach, said. “We were able to keep the pressure on them and create plenty of opportunities for ourselves. Their keeper made a couple of great saves. That was the difference tonight.”


Nashville became visibly frustrated by its inability to capitalize on repeated chances in front of the Storm goal. Gonzalez Oliveras bore the brunt of that frustration as the match slipped away from Nashville. On separate occasions in the last half hour of the match, two Nashville attackers were cautioned for late challenges on the Storm keeper as she took possession of the ball.


“I’m so proud of our defensive unit and goalkeeper,” Levoy said. “Nashville has such a good attack. We stayed cohesive, even when things got crazy there in the end.”


With time waning, Nashville threw everything it had at the Storm goal, including Elbro, who lingered in the Storm penalty area on set pieces created by the relentless Nashville pressure.


With less than a minute to play in regulation, Nashville thought it found the equalizer off a scrum inside the penalty area. The resulting shot slapped off the goal post and back into play. Moments later, Storm defenders cleared the ball off the line twice in stoppage time to secure the win.


Sunday will mark the fifth WPSL Championship Final appearance for the Storm, which joined the league in 1998 in the league’s inaugural year. The Storm’s last championship final appearance was in 2005, which resulted in a loss in penalty kicks to FC Indiana after playing to a 4-4 draw.


Kickoff for Sunday’s WPSL Final between the California Storm and the Colorado Rapids Women is scheduled for 7:30 PM CDT at Neal Patterson Stadium and will be streamed live at



California Storm

Oliveras, Reed, Ayson, Treiterer, Smith, Hutchison, Uribe, Gonzalez, Bettencourt, Klos, Gillespie.

Coach: Jamie Levoy

Nashville Rhythm FC

Elbro, Stiedl, Swiger, Campbell, Shamburger, Morris, Kelley, Kawagishi, Watari, Kannady, Oliver.

Coach: Scott Davidson


18’ Janae Gonzalez—Cali


Caution 57’ Reagan Kelley—Nash

Caution 81’ Mikayla Reed—Cal

Caution 82’ Yuki Watari—Nash

Storm / Rhythm

Shots: 4/9
Shots on target: 1/7
Saves: 7/0
Corner Kicks: 1/6
Fouls: 7/8
Offside: 1/5