American soccer writing, history & data.
In December of 1993, USISL commissioner Francisco Marcos recommended that the organization begin a women's soccer program on an informal and voluntary basis in 1994 with plans for an official league to be launched starting in 1995. Around 17 women's teams played a pilot program of exhibition matches under the USISL umbrella which was called the United States Women's Interregional Soccer League. Most were teams launched by USISL clubs but the program included a few women's teams already in existence.
The loosely structured competition included teams from the Northeast (Boston Storm, Connecticut Lady Wolves, Long Island Rough Riders, North Jersey Lady Imperials, and Rhode Island Stingrays) and Southeast (Atlanta Magic, Greensboro Dynamo, Jacksonville KAOS, Orlando Lions, and Baltimore Lady Bays). The Cincinnati Cheetahs hosted a four-team Cincinnati Cup which included the St. Louis Lady Knights, Texas Lightning and Columbus Xoggz. Finally, the Pacific included the Sacramento Storm, Santa Cruz Monarchs and Silicon Valley Firebirds.
The USISL put together an end-of-season tournament to coincide with the men's finals taking place in North Carolina. Dubbed the Sizzlin' Six, the USWISL national tournament took place at Trinity High School in Trinity, N.C. Six teams took part but had to raise their own funds to travel because the USISL did not put aside travel funds as they did for the men's teams.
The six teams were put into two groups of three. The Orlando Lions had to cancel their first match against the Atlanta Magic because financial problems forced them to cancel their trip to the tournament just hours before their match was to be played on August 12. Sacramento Storm beat the Rough Riders 3-2 in their group match. A quickly rearranged schedule saw the Dynamo beat the Rough Riders 1-0 for a place in the final against the Storm.
The first-ever USWISL final was due to be played at 6pm on Sunday, August 14. But Sacramento Storm coach, Jerry Zanelli, had a plane to catch so the league decided Saturday night to switch the match time to 1pm. Because of the time change and the distance from the men's tournament games in Greensboro, the final only drew about 200 fans. The high school stadium had no working scoreboard, no national anthem, and no admission price.
Greensboro Dynamo, coached by UNC-Chapel Hill assistant Bill Paladino, were without U.S. National Team players Mia Hamm and Carla Overbeck. But, the team managed to mount a number of early attacks on goal but shots by Fabienne Gareau were stopped by Storm goalkeeper Jennifer Kruising. Sacramento striker Allison Gibson scored from the right side in the 20th minute beating Greensboro keeper Michelle Bertochi. Gibson collapsed due to the intense midday heat less than 20 minutes later, was helped from the field, and later transported to High Point Regional Hospital to be treated for heat exhaustion. Late in the game, Sacramento went down a player after a red card to defender Heather Huiskins. A late shot by Kim Yankowski went over the Sacramento goal and the Storm won the USWISL championship 1-0.
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