It’s year one for Buffalo’s new soccer team, FC Buffalo Women. And they started things off on a positive note, winning their first ever game 2-1 over the Rochester Lancers this weekend. The team’s journey to get on the pitch this season hasn't been without challenges.
Two weeks. That’s the time FC Buffalo Women had to prepare as a team before their first game in Rochester Sunday. And with some players stuck in Southern Ontario due to COVID, it wasn’t even their entire roster.
“Knowing that that wasn't our full roster, that the girls had only had about two weeks to practice together, I'm just so proud of what the coaching staff and those girls were able to do,” said FC Buffalo Women’s Soccer Director Liz Mantel.
Mantel added the club fielded a talented roster, although incomplete, that is made up of top players from local colleges, including Niagara and St. Bonaventure.
“We put together an advisory board of women in the area that just know soccer," Mantel said. "And that board did an amazing job of not only the selection of our head coach, Nikki Bartholomew, but really knowing the players around here.”
Mantel said a goal for the team is helping connect players to higher-level professional clubs, just like the FC Buffalo Men’s team has been doing for the past decade.
“For players looking to get to that next level, or just stay in a competitive game, there wasn't that around here. And that's the gap we wanted to fill," Mantel said. "We want to see the success of our players move on to the next level, but it's really about giving those little girls that are playing soccer now a place to not only come and really look up to these girls the way they play, but something to strive towards.”
Mantel said they hope to have more details later this week on attending home games - the first being June 6 for the women’s team.
“Whether you're watching FC Buffalo Women or FC Buffalo Men, you can stream it, you can watch it no matter where you are. And that's really important because as we do move forward, I mean, as we're talking the guidances are changing on what we can and can't do,” she said.
FC Buffalo Women takes on Albany Rush on May 22 for their next game.