It was quite the inaugural season in the Women’s Premier Soccer League for SUSA FC.
The Long Island-based team that finished the 2018 summer campaign in first place with a 7-1-0 record and a trip the playoffs has now received a host of postseason accolades from the WPSL.
In the East Region-Metropolitan Conference, SUSA was named Franchise of the Year, SUSA head coach JR Balzarini was named Coach of the Year and SUSA’s Rebecca Raber was named Defensive Player of the Year.
“The awards for the club in our first season in the league is special for everybody in our organization from the staff, the players, the academy players and the fans,” Balzarini said. “For SUSA FC to get voted Franchise of the Year is a tribute to everybody’s hard work to put on an event that people wanted to be part of. From our office staff to our academy coaches, to our college and player interns, everybody put in a ton of work this summer and this award is the result of that. This is a something that everybody at SUSA can share in.”
Regarding Raber, his star defender, Balzarini said she led by example with her commitment to training and her communication with her teammates in training and during games.
“Rebecca came to the team with the most playing experience with her playing over in England and then professionally over in Switzerland,” he said. “With her in the back, simple, the team got better and that is all you can ask for in your leaders, make the team better, it was never once about her. It was a huge addition to have her on the roster this summer.”
During the 2018 campaign, SUSA started the season with four consecutive wins before losing its only match of the season, 1-0 to New York Athletic Club. SUSA would then embark on another four-game winning streak that included a win over Torch FC in the East Region Championship semi-final.
The season would come to an end in a 1-0 loss to Cleveland Ambassadors in the East Region Championship final.
Raber, a native of Bayport and graduate of Bayport-Blue Point High School, was a defensive stalwart for SUSA during the 2018 season, earning WPSL Week 7 Player of the Week honors. She played collegiately at Binghamton University and professionally for FF Lugano in Switzerland.
Editor’s note: This story was updated to include comments from Balzarini.