The Western New York Flash's amateur United Women's Soccer team is perched atop the club's pyramid, acting as the springboard for Flash Academy graduates (and soon-to-be graduates) to remain sharp for their coming college seasons or to catch the eyes of college and professional scouts.
After the sale of the National Women's Soccer League franchise to North Carolina 14 months ago, this side represents the highest level of women's soccer in the Buffalo area.
First-year Flash head coach Matt Waddington announced the first 23 players who'll suit up for the club this summer, in a release Friday. The coach anticipates adding as many as 10 additional women, as a deeper roster can ease the team's trio of grueling two-game weekends and accommodate for players leaving early for their school seasons.
WNY begins UWS play on May 19 in Long Island before playing its first home match on June 2 at D'Youville College's Dobson Field. See the full schedule here.
The Flash's top two scorers return from club's inaugural United Women's Soccer campaign; Carissima Cutrona, a first team All-UWS selection with 26 points, and Maddie Pezzino, who tallied 13 points, are on the 2018 roster. Read more about the latter's move to Ole Miss from Florida State.
Here's a breakdown of the first 23, roughly by position, including their playing history. Nearly every player on the roster is in some way affiliated with the WNY Flash Academy, either as an Elite Clubs National League player, an academy player from the pre-ECNL days or a current club coach.
Meg Tock (former Canisius College, returning player)
Emily Kelly (University at Buffalo signing, ECNL, returning player)
Alexis Bach (University of Arkansas)
Claire Mulholland (Air Force signing, ECNL)
Tess Ford (University at Buffalo signing, returning player)
Anna Davies (Marist College, ECNL, returning player)
Marcy Barberic (University at Buffalo, ECNL, returning player)
Maya Palmer (Old Dominion signing, ECNL)
Grace Murphy (current ECNL)
Carissima Cutrona (University at Buffalo, Black Watch, returning player)
Brittany Heist (Former Boston University, academy coach, returning player)
Jenna Raepple (Former Colgate University, academy coach, returning player)
Kelsey Ferguson (Former University of Richmond, academy coach, returning player)
Kara Daly (University at Buffalo, Empire United, returning player)
Taylor DiMarco (Loyola University Maryland, ECNL)
Emma Gervase (Old Dominion signing, ECNL)
Sydney Gilmore (University at Buffalo signing, ECNL)
Anna Hewlett (current ECNL)
Maddie Pezzino (Ole Miss, former Florida State, ECNL, returning player)
Hope Balling (Canisius College signing, ECNL, returning player)
Meghan Root (Syracuse University signing, ECNL)
Chloe DeLyser (Ohio State signing, ECNL)
Calista Heister (Virginia Tech signing, ECNL)