Published Jul 13, 2023
Written By:  Phuoc Nguyen | WPSL Correspondent
Photo By: Melissa Levin Photography


In 2022, Westside Metros FC came into the game at OSA XF needing a win to guarantee a share of the Northwest Conference title. However, the Metros fell 2-5 the final game and dropped from first to third - PacNW and OSA XF finished first and second in a hard fought three-way race.

That was its first loss in WPSL regular season play since 2019.

“Crossfire [OSA XF]  last year was the first loss we've had in three years. So that was a tough one,” Cory Hand, Metros director of coaching and WPSL head coach, said. “We ended it last year. That's where we finished the season and knocked us out of contention all the way down to third place in one game.”

Heading into the final weekend of its 2023 WPSL campaign, the Metros had the same opportunity and came into its final two regular-season games controlling its own destiny - winning both games would secure the Northwest Conference belonging to them.

OSA XF came into the season as the top returning team and needed a result to stop Westside Metros FC from claiming the crown. In the pairs’ first meeting at Sherwood Stadium, Westside’s Regan Berg (Ohio University)  scored in the final minute to salvage a 3-3 draw. The final match between the two titans was held at Redmond High School with OSA XF looking to spoil the party and get itself in prime position to take the conference title.

In a defensive battle, it came down to a single goal.

Cameron Bourne (University of Oregon commit) got the home side off to the early lead with her goal in the sixth minute. You could not ask for a better start for OSA XF.  However, Hand’s faith in his players never wavers. The Metro’s ability to fight for each other and claw back has been evident all season.

Just five minutes later, Hand’s belief was rewarded. The high press of Westside led to a turnover and Ellie Felt put the finishing touches to equalize. In the 13’ minute, Berg got on the end of a cross from Felt just before the OSA goalkeeper could get there to put the Metros in the lead 2-1.

Both teams had chances the rest of the game, but each backline stood tall and prevented any additional goals through the final whistle. With the win, Westside Metros FC has one final game in hand at home against league newcomers, Cultures United Football Club.

Felt and the Metros left no doubt in the 5-0 win to clinch the conference title and secure a berth in the West Region Playoffs - felt was involved in all five goals with two scores and three assists.

Hand was thrilled with the performances over the final weekend that earned two big wins kept the season alive.

“To turn around and do it back to back and finish that week was huge, but to win this conference, I was proud of them,” Hand said.

With the postseason set, the Metros will face a new test as the Oregon side makes its way to Phoenix, AZ to battle new competition in hopes of winning the West Region and securing itself as one of four teams to later compete for the WPSL Championship in Stillwater, OK.

First, the Metros must take down the powerhouse, California Storm, who is ranked No. 1 in the West and Top 5 nationally.

The Storm has won eight in a row after dropping its regular season opener to the Fresno Freeze 0-2. With a goal differential of +41, this side is dangerous heading into the playoffs having outscored its opponents 48-7. In its club’s history the Sacramento side has won four WPSL Championships and 15 conference titles.

Most notably, the Storm is also the reigning WPSL champions. Though the Metros weren’t taking the field, Hand was at last year’s West Region Playoff games and got to see the Storm play firsthand - a sight tough for him to see as “he thought they had the players to go pretty far.”

Westside has been waiting for this opportunity and now has its chance against a historic and elite side.

Felt, the 2022-2023 Gatorade Oregon Girls Soccer Player of the Year, will be the key to the game on Saturday as her play has been consistent for the Metro’s through regular season. She appeared in all six games while scoring five goals with seven assists - averaging two-goal contributions per game. Whether it’ll be as a midfielder or winger, Felt is looking to have a big impact on this game.

Another playmaker to look out for is Nikolina Musto, who previously played in the Iceland Women’s Football League with ÍA Akranes. Musto has six goal contributions this season with five assists and a goal on her own.

The Metro’s backline has only conceded one more goal than the Storm’s seven so the defensive battle on Saturday could make for an intense contest with both sides hungry to mark the scoreboard first.

“We can't wait to take this team and make it a bit and not just play in this area and this conference, but to be more on the regional and national stage,” Hand said. “We're really excited to be able to have this opportunity to give our players that belong in that stage a chance to be there, you know.”

Heading into this season, the Metro’s team goal wasn’t to win the conference, or make noise in the playoffs, it was bigger than any one person.

“For us, we want to create a culture and environment where these women have a place to play in between the professional and college seasons where they have the opportunity to feel safe, have the ability to express themselves, the freedom to be themselves, and where they can grow without the pressure that college and professional programs bring,” Hand said.

Hand has made it very clear that the environment and team culture are the goals and priorities for this team. The bond that the Metros has is something that makes it stronger and more unified. By winning they can extend the season and spend more time with one another.

“So our goal is that we're going to do the best we can every practice [and] we're going to create this environment for them they're going to love being there,” Hand said. “then we're going to love the season so much that we just want to make sure it doesn't end” said Hand.

The Northwest Conference champions will head to Arizona with dreams of extending their fairy-tale journey. The WPSL Playoffs will open with Regional Semifinal July 15 and Finals on July 16. The winners of each Region will then head to the WPSL Championship, July 22-23, hosted at Neal Patterson Stadium on the campus of Oklahoma State University.