NWSL Playoffs Have A Distinct Long Island Feel

Crystal Dunn, NWSL, North Carolina Courage
Crystal Dunn. Photo: isiphotos.com/Jeremy Reper

The NWSL playoffs kick off this weekend and three of the four teams feature players with Long Island roots on their rosters.

In the first semi-final to be played Saturday, September 15, Seattle Reign FC will head south to Providence Park in Portland, OR, to face their rivals Portland Thorns FC. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. eastern time with the match to air on Lifetime.

Emily Menges, Portland Thorns, NWSL
Emily Menges. Photo: Portland Thorns

Portland’s roster features Garden City native Emily Menges. She was taken by the Thorns in the Third Round of 2014 NWSL College Draft out of Georgetown. She made her first appearance for Portland in April that same year in a 1-0 win over the Houston Dash.

During her time with Portland, she has helped the Thorns win the 2016 NWSL Shield and the 2017 NWSL Championship.

Long, NWSL, Allie Long, Seattle Reign
Seattle Reign’s Allie Long.

On the opposite side of the field from Menges will be Seattle’s Allie Long, a Northport native, and Bay Shore native Jasmyne Spencer.

Long spent five seasons with the Thorns before being traded to Seattle before the start of the 2018 season. Spencer, after spending two seasons with the Orlando Pride, was also traded to Seattle prior to the start of the 2018 season.

Jasmyne Spencer

A third member of Seattle, Michelle Betos, was born in Queens and attended St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens.

The other NWSL semi-final features North Carolina Courage meeting Chicago Red Stars. The match, now set for Tuesday, September 18, was moved from North Carolina to Providence Park because of Hurricane Florence. Kickoff is 9 p.m eastern time and the match will be aired on ESPN News.

The Courage roster features three Long Islanders, Crystal Dunn and Meredith Speck of Rockville Centre and Cari Roccaro of East Islip.

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Dunn joined North Carolina after one season with Chelsea Ladies of England’s FA WSL1. Prior to that, she was with the NWSL’s Washington Spirit, which made her the first overall pick in the 2014 College Draft. A year later she won the league’s Golden Boot award and was named league Most Valuable Player.

Courage, Roccaro, Speck
Cari Roccaro (left) and Meredith Speck.

Speck started her NWSL career in 2016 with Western New York Flash and has been with the Courage the past two seasons. Roccaro was the fifth overall pick by Houston in the 2016 College Draft and played two seasons with the Dash. She joined North Carolina in 2018.

In addition, North Carolina’s head coach Paul Riley has a strong connection to Long Island. He coached collegiately at CW Post and played his college ball at Adelphi. Riley has also coached with the Long Island Rough Riders.

In the NWSL he served as head coach of Portland Thorns in 2014 and 2015, Western New York Flash in 2016 and joined the Courage in 2017.

The semi-final winners will meet in the NWSL Finals on Saturday, September 22, at Providence Park. Kick off is set for 4:30 p.m. eastern time and the match will air on Lifetime.