How DUSC Can Maintain its Status as WPSL Giant
Published May 25, 2023
Written By: Ryan Wood / WPSL Correspondent 


When summertime rolls around in the Big Apple certain attractions stand out. From the Coney Island Cyclone to the Tribeca Film Festival, NYC is always buzzing when the temps heat up. The same can be said over on Randall’s Island, where for the past two summers, Downtown United Soccer Club has been worth more than the price of admission.

Finishing atop the Women’s Premier Soccer League table has become a common summertime theme for DUSC Women, which joined the WPSL in 2021 and has yet to lose a game. That’s correct. DUSC brings its two-year, 16-match unbeaten streak to the field on June 2 (7 PM ET at Poly Prep) to take on New York Athletic Club in its first game of the 2023 season.

“Competing at that level for a third consecutive season is a big challenge, especially with such a short season,” Tara Heatley, DUSC coach, said. “As always, winning is a priority, but we also want each individual player on the team to end the season reaching the goals that they have set going in, including seeing our players move on to play in the NWSL and professionally abroad, which is the ultimate goal.”

Giovanna DeMarco (San Diego Wave), Caitlin Cosme (Orlando Pride), and Jyllissa Harris (Houston Dash) are DUSC alumnae currently on rostered in the NWSL.

DUSC won the Metropolitan Conference with a 6-0-2-mark last season – one year after an 8-0-0 campaign. The club led the conference with 49 goals scored while conceding a division-best seven goals. DUSC fell in the WPSL East regional playoff to SJEB FC, narrowly falling on penalties, 2-0, after a 1-1 game in regulation. DUSC boasts plenty of returning talent from last year’s club.

“Each season we have great players that return to us helping us create a culture of high-level soccer that consists of talented players both from DUSC and surrounding clubs. Of course, our collaboration with Gotham FC helps,” Heatley said.

DUSC announced its renewed partnership with NJ/NY Gotham FC of the National Women’s Soccer League for the third year on May 17 with a public statement made on social media.

With a roster full of players from different clubs and collegiate programs, Heatley stresses the importance of establishing team identity right out of the gate.

“This will come from getting the team together as soon as possible to go over our style of play and the plans that myself and the rest of the coaching staff have prepared for the summer,” Heatley said.

Defender Smith Hunter (Harvard University, former U.S. U-20 National Team, member of U17 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Uruguay in 2018) and Duke defender/midfielder Nicky Chico (part of 10 shutouts in 2022 with the Blue Devils) will both be returning this season.

According to Heatley, Hunter and Chico were both key components to DUSC last season and are coming off successful Fall seasons with Harvard and Duke. Their experience with the WPSL and collegiately are just some examples that add to DUSC’s roster depth – something that Heatley boasts as a crucial part of their success thus far.

“Having depth within the team due to a short season and other commitments from players is extremely important,” Heatley said. “Our success in the past stems from the depth that we have on the team.”

With the season coming fast and furious, DUSC knows that its opponents are out to seek one thing, that elusive first win against the two-year unbeaten conference leaders.

“As a team, we establish a standard at the beginning of every season, no matter the opponent our priority is to always reach that standard that the coaching staff and players set,” Heatley said. “Long Island and New Jersey clubs are always tough matches, but we love competing against Brooklyn City, our local rival and a club with similar values.”