BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — FC Buffalo announced Tuesday it has accepted an invitation to field its first women's team and FC Buffalo Women will join United Women's Soccer this season.
United Women's Soccer is a national pro-am league composed of professionally operated clubs in the United States and Canada.
Liz Mantel has been named FC Buffalo director of women’s soccer and Ryan Schupp has been named director of community soccer development.
“We’re so excited to complete the FC Buffalo family with FC Buffalo Women joining the UWS,” Mantel said. “To be able to bring a higher level of women’s soccer back to WNY only makes sense with the wealth of talent we have in the area. The passion our players and staff bring will only help our club to continue our initiative to foster an always-growing environment for community and soccer.”
We are incredibly excited to announce that the wonderful, brilliant, and generous @Liz_Mantel will take hold of @FCBuffaloWomen, which will be overwhelmingly driven by the talents of womenhttps://t.co/npDrETHQdu— FC Buffalo (@FCBuffalo) February 23, 2021
FC Buffalo says it was approached last year about bringing a UWS team to its club and began contacting women in the Buffalo soccer community to discuss the benefits of and obstacles to starting a women’s team. Those women are now members of the FC Buffalo women’s soccer advisory board.
- Courtney Mann Rinow – former Empire United standout at youth level and University at Buffalo captain, All-MAC First team in 2014 when she led Shawn Burke’s Bulls to the NCAA Tournament, later serving as volunteer assistant coach at UB.
- Gabrielle Wilson – A star goalkeeper at Holy Angels Academy, Gabrielle played college soccer at Niagara University, where she ranks in the top ten in saves, shutouts, and minutes in a season. She has since turned her passion to coaching, and is currently in her fifth season as a volunteer assistant with Canisius College.
- Kathleen DiPasquale – Lettered all four years and was named All-MAAC for Canisius College’s soccer team and two more on the Golden Griffins’ lacrosse team. Was three-time All-New York State in high school for Williamsville North and later coached Empire Revs of the WPSL and Niagara County Community College.
- Carissima Cutrona – A two-time All-American in high school at Williamsville South Carissima was a two-time All-MAC player at the University at Buffalo, where she was eligible for the NWSL draft after a UB career that saw her finish sixth all-time in goals, fifth in assists, and sixth in points. Was named UWS All-East Conference for the WNY Flash in 2017 and 2018. Played youth soccer at Blackwatch Premier.
The advisory board issued the following statement:
“We’ve grown up playing locally and were able to continue our playing careers into college, but for the most part that is where our progression in the women’s game came to an end. Whether it was in-between seasons or after graduation, there weren’t any options to play competitively or even see a high-level game unless we wanted to leave town. That is until now.
“We’re beyond excited to see this idea come to life and we look forward to creating a new space for both players and devoted fans of the game to pursue their passions. It’s been a long time coming, but this summer Buffalo is getting a new team to rally behind; Mama’s got a brand new bag.”
FC Buffalo says it is in the process of finding coaches, players, and staffers for the UWS season and encourages anyone interested in getting involved to contact the club via email at email@example.com.
The team also announced the commitments of three players to the team: Cutrona, Dani Braun and Jamie Boyar.
"Wanting to begin a project like this and putting it into action requires something special, and the women who’ve taken hold of this idea and made it a reality have energized our club,” said Nick Mendola, club co-owner. “We’ve kept a fairly-tight lid on this idea, but the enthusiasm in our community from anyone we’ve about FC Buffalo Women has been nothing short of fantastic. I consider it an honor to help build this into something truly special and to create more of the memories I hold dearly from our first 11 years on the men’s side.
“On behalf of the club I want to thank the advisory board for their energy and vision. I also want to thank Soccer Sam Fantauzzo of the Rochester Lady Lancers for his guidance, and the countless members of the women’s soccer community who have lent their expertise and wisdom in how we can make sure FC Buffalo Women is an inclusive, passionate, and welcoming side.”
FC Buffalo says those who buy a season ticket to the UWS season will gain admission to men’s NPSL games. FC Buffalo men's season ticket holders will also be able to use their season ticket to get into women's games.