Published Jun 21, 2024

Written By:  Thomas Costello
Photography:  David Cleveland




With two match weeks remaining in the WPSL regular season, and six weeks in the rearview mirror, each match has playoff implications. For the Great Lakes Conference, that means two teams at the top of each division are playing for a spot in the conference final. Here’s how each division could shape up in the final weeks of the regular season.

Lake Erie Division


Mathematically, there are four teams with a chance to clinch a spot in the conference title game. With only one point separating the top three teams, it goes down to the remaining matches for each side. Of the three, RNY FC sits in second place, but has an advantage over its opponents.


RNY has three matches remaining, compared to only two for expansion Niagara 1812. RNY also needs Niagara’s help if it wants to win its first divisional crown in its second year in the WPSL.


Saturday, Niagara welcomes Cleveland Ambassadors to Western New York, hoping to pull away its second victory against the Northeast Ohio side this season. A three goal second half for Niagara gave the new side a 3-2 win in the away leg of the matchup. Now, Cleveland has to win in Niagara if it hopes to keep its title chances alive.


It’s a tangled web at the top, with Cleveland not only playing Niagara but its two other remaining matches are against the team sitting directly above it in the standings. RNY and Cleveland clash twice in the final six days of the conference season.


On Sunday, Cleveland heads to Rochester for an early 11:00 a.m. ET kickoff, followed up by a matchup on the final day of the season. That’s when Hudson Memorial Stadium in Northeast Ohio hosts a match that could decide who represents the Lake Erie Division in the conference championship.


With all the in-fighting at the top of the standings, expansion side BC United still has a shot. Although it sits on six points, it too has three matches remaining. First up is RNY FC. BC could both spoil RNY’s title run and keep itself in the conversation. Both of United’s victories this season came against top sides in the conference, showing that anything’s possible. 


June 1, BC defeated Niagara 1812 with a 2-0 clean sheet win. Then, two weeks later, defeated RNY by a convincing 3-1 scoreline. Now RNY has to avenge that defeat Friday night in Rochester to keep its season alive. A single defeat for BC takes it out of the division conversation, if any of the three teams above it wins out their remaining matches.

Great River Division

Over in the Great River Division, the situation is a bit more straightforward, with two teams playing for the lone spot in the conference championship.


The race is between the Columbus Eagles and Ambassadors Cleveland. Looking at the math, Ambassadors hold their fate at their feet. With an early season trip to Peru for the club, it only played four matches. If Cleveland wins its final four matches of the season, it’s over for the rest of the division. That’s with a substantial speed bump in its path.


Historically a strong side, can Ambassadors Cleveland pull ahead with a blistering four matches in nine days? Plus, only two of those matches are at home, meaning there’s travel to Toledo and Western Pennsylvania in the team’s immediate future. Within that four match stretch is a home game for Ambassadors against the No. 1 Eagles. 

Should Columbus defeat Greater Toledo Futbol Club on Sunday, and that matchup in Northeast Ohio on June 28, the Eagles win its first division title in its 10th WPSL season.


In their first meeting, Ambassadors pulled out a late draw in an exciting 3-3 match in Historic Crew Stadium, in Columbus. That draw kept Ambassadors in the title race but now they have to do one better if they hope to leapfrog the Eagles in the conference table.


For Beadling, a strong start to the season turned into two 3-0 defeats in a row to Columbus and Ambassadors. With those defeats, and only one match remaining, it doesn’t have a chance to win the conference or make its first WPSL playoffs. 


For Toledo, the only other team in the division with WPSL matches remaining, it can only spoil the run of other sides. The best it can do in its expansion season is 12 total points if it can beat Ambassadors twice and Columbus once. 

Key Conference Matches to Watch

Saturday, June 22 4:00 p.m. ET - Cleveland Ambassadors at Niagara 1812

Sunday, June 23 4:00 p.m. ET - Cleveland Ambassadors at RNY FC

Friday, June 28 7:00 p.m. ET - Columbus Eagles at Ambassadors Cleveland

Saturday, June 29 3:00 p.m. ET - RNY FC at Ambassadors Cleveland