U.S. women provide inspiration for local team
The Charge is in the middle of its second year in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL), a 62-team league formed in 1998. Albert Oni, an assistant coach of the Towson women’s soccer team, coaches the Charge, while the roster is comprised of women of varying ages—everyone from high schoolers to college graduates.
Oni said the difficulties of organizing an amateur team around family, work and other commitments were evident this weekend, as only 12 of the Charge’s 28 players made the trip to Bowling Green. To make matter worse, most of the players who couldn’t attend the tournament were the Charge’s veterans, many of whom were busy with work or vacation.
“On the one hand you could say, ‘Wow you’re missing a lot of players this stinks,’” Oni said before Friday’s semifinal contest. “I just look at it as an opportunity. We’ve got a lot of young players with potential that they don’t even realize.”
There’s a short turnaround for the Charge, as they now head to Connecticut for a Tuesday showdown with CFC Passion. Currently tied for second place in their division, the Charge are looking to qualify for the playoffs for a second consecutive year.
In between games the Charge will be watching with interest on Sunday when the United States squares off against Japan. Goalkeeper Yewande Balogun, a Bowie native who plays at Maryland, said there’s a lot that the Charge can glean from watching the national team.
“Their style of play is very direct and attack-minded but it’s not the typical kick and run soccer that you see a lot of in the soccer game,” Balogun said. “They’re much more composed, they make things happen and don’t force things.”
Oni, a defensive-minded coach himself, noted how the Americans’ reliance on athleticism may soon leave them at a disadvantage on the global stage. While women’s soccer was shunned in other countries for decades, more tactically-sound teams like England and Germany are on the rise.
“It’s just a more direct game,” said Oni of the Americans’ strategy. “The emphasis is on defense, it’s athletic. That’s a lot easier than teaching a complex, tactical game that requires technique and tactical knowledge."
In addition to tactical guidance, this year’s national team has also provided its share of inspiration.
“The comeback against Brazil was absolutely ridiculous,” said Johns Hopkins senior Jessica Hnatiuk (John Carroll). “As a team we can take that as a whole that showed your character and you don’t give up, even in the last minutes of a game if you work together you can pull through and overcome one of the best teams in the world.”