Beadling Could Challenge Conference Giant with Changes Made Entering Sophomore Season
Published Jun 3, 2023
Written By:  Thomas Costello | WPSL Correspondent


In the 2022 WPSL season, a standout of the batch of new expansion sides came from Western Pennsylvania when Beadling SC joined the longest-running women’s soccer league. It was a perfect match, considering Beadling itself is the longest-running youth soccer club in the country - dating back to 1898.

For all that wisdom and experience, Beadling had moments of struggle on the field. After losing its first match of the season 2-0 to fellow Pennsylvania side Century United, Beadling Soccer Club lost only once the rest of the season – a 5-1 lopsided defeat to Cleveland Ambassadors.

Beadling’s defeat came in a weekend of back-to-back matches with the Cleveland loss coming on Sunday following a 1-1 draw the day before against the Columbus Eagles. It was that loss to Cleveland that was in the head of WPSL coach Matt Fonagy going into the 2023 season.

“It was obviously a learning curve for us, having two matches in a weekend,” Fonagy said. “We’ve done a better job this year of spacing out the games, one a weekend max and a Tuesday/Saturday schedule. I think it’s going to benefit us more and for recovery and safety of the kids it’s better.”

This season, outside of having two matches in three days on June 8 and 10, Beadling spaced out its matches to protect players and stay in the conversation at the top of the Lake Erie Conference.

Ambassadors Cleveland, who won the conference handily with seven wins by an average margin of victory of 4.3 goals per game, were the class of the conference in 2022. What made the accomplishment even more impressive is it came in the Ambassadors’ second WPSL season. A juggernaut like that seems unbeatable, but the other two matches of the champion’s season were draws - both to Beadling SC.

“Every match is a great match,” Fonagy said. “To be honest it could go either way. We know they’re coming. Their style’s very good, they play a great style. Caleb (Fortune) up there is an excellent coach.”

To start the 2023 season, Beadling faced Cleveland Ambassadors, beating the Northeast Ohio side 2-1. Another close match between two programs, although a matchup between last year’s champs, Ambassadors Cleveland, won’t come until June 13. Fonagy and his side continued their winning ways on May 27, defeating RNY FC 3-2.

Leading the way for Beadling is a returning striker from last season’s strong expansion debut. Carolina Lucci, who played five collegiate seasons with the Chowan University Hawks, returns after being named an Honorable Mention in the WPSL’s Central Region Best XI last season. So far, Lucci already has two goals and an assist in two matches - compared to five goals and no assists last year. Beadling also returns midfielder Sammie Brown (Auburn University) who earned an assist in the season opener against Cleveland.

“We have a majority of the players back from last year, always nice to have a great turnover there,” Fonagy said. “Cleveland’s obviously a very good team and definitely took it to us. Got the result, very happy about that, but still a lot of things to improve on.”

Next up for Beadling Soccer Club is its second-straight match-up against 2023 expansion teams, welcoming a new WPSL rival in Erie FC to the Southpointe Fieldhouse before playing four of its last five matches away from home.

“Erie always has a strong presence in the game, I’m looking forward to playing them,” Fonagy said. “Seems like they’re going to have a good year, year one. Our youth teams play them in the girl’s academy. A lot of great people, great coaches, and a lot of talent. Those will be great games.”