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Reading United Women's WPSL Team!

A new Reading United women's team took to the field in 2023, playing in the Women’s Premier Soccer League. The core of Reading’s new women's team featured 25 of the 40 players that played either high school or collegiate soccer in Berks County. Ten Berks high schools and two colleges, Kutztown University and Penn State Berks, were represented.

The debut season for the United Women was a smashing success. The women compiled a 7-1-2 record under head coach Tom Gosselin that saw them storm into the WPSL playoffs, finishing the regular season on a seven match unbeaten run. That streak saw the women tally 14 goals while conceding just three goals.

Wyomissing Area alum Rebecca Kotula captained Gosselin’s side and showed why she is a second team All-American at East Stroudsburg University. Kotula found the back of the net eight times for United in 2023, including the club’s first ever WPSL goal in the opening contest against local rivals, PA Classics. 

Expansion sides rarely have the success the Reading United women had in 2023. United rode their seven victories to a berth in the WPSL playoffs in their debut season. In the opening round of the playoffs, Abby Doyle’s thrilling goal in an overtime victory over Fever SC helped Reading claim the Mid-Atlantic Conference crown and a place in the WPSL Eastern Regional Championship playoffs. Though they fought valiantly, the United women fell to the eventual Eastern Region champions, the Rhode Island Rogues.

Looking towards the 2024 season, Gosselin said, “Next year I am optimistic we can grow even more with the inaugural season under our collective belts. We all learned so much and the team handled all speed bumps with the mentality of winners.  Everything achieved was a collective effort of ownership, staff, players and fans.”

Recent WPSL First Team News

Reading United AC top Lehigh Valley United, 2-1

By Art Auchenbach 07/15/2024, 9:45pm EDT

Topolsky & McDaid score to earn the win and a trip to the USL League Two Playoffs

 While the women were starting their East Region playoff march, the Reading United AC men wrapped up the USL League Two regular season with a 2-1 come from behind victory over visiting Lehigh Valley United on a sweltering Saturday night at Alvernia University Stadium. Goals on each side of halftime from Dominik Topolsky and Jack McDaid powered United to the club’s seventh win of the season and booked a place in the USL League Two Playoffs for the first time since 2019.

Needing a win to guarantee a place in the USL League Two postseason, the hosts stumbled out of the gate. In the sixth minute, Lehigh Valley, who sat buried at the bottom of the Mid-Atlantic Division, scored the game’s opening goal. Sebastian Tis staked the visitors to a 1-0 lead when he slotted a shot past United goalkeeper Francisco Ranieri.

United rallied after conceding, putting Lehigh Valley under near constant pressure. The visitors put up a dogged defense that frustrated Reading’s potent attack. Sam Hershey and Modou Faye saw several good attacks turned away by Lehigh Valley.

In the 37th minute, Topolsky was cut down by a heavy challenge from an LVU defender nearly 30 yards from goal. Gathering himself after the nasty tackle, Topolsky took the free kick and launched a shot into the top corner of the goal past a diving Lehigh Valley goalkeeper, Matt Link, to level the match at 1-1. It was Topolsky’s seventh goal of the season, tying him with Sam Hershey for the team lead in goals.

Coming out of the halftime break, Lehigh Valley nearly snatched the lead on a corner kick in the 48th minute. A timely intervention by Reading defender Eamon McLaughlin saw a sneaky chance at the back post by LVU poked inches wide to keep the game deadlocked.

Reading’s hunt for the all important go-ahead goal paid off in the game’s 64th minute. Substitute forward Jaylen Orr was dispossessed by a Lehigh Valley defender. The loose ball was rifled home by an alert Jack McDaid, pushing Reading to a 2-1 lead in the 64th minute.

United outworked their local rivals over the game’s final 25 minutes, thwarting Lehigh Valley's search for an equalizer. The 2-1 victory meant Reading United would finish the regular season in second place in the Mid-Atlantic Division on 23 points, besting West Chester United by goal difference. The postseason berth was the first for the club under Head Coach Casey Moore’s leadership. The team celebrated on the field after the match, dousing Moore with a traditional Gatorade bath.

Reading United will open the 2024 USL League Two postseason on the road in a playoff “play-in” game at Vermont Green FC the Northeast Division 3rd place team on Tuesday July 16 at 7PM.

Vermont Green FC Livestream of the Match:

Women Advance to WPSL East Region Title Game

By Art Auchenbach 07/15/2024, 9:45pm EDT

Women beat SUSA 2-1 in semi-final, fall against Clarkstown 4-2 in final

After a thrilling 6-1 win over SJEB FC on July 6th, the Reading United women booked their passage to a second straight WPSL East Region Championship July 13-14 in Islip NY.  The Reading women were drawn against host and Metropolitan Conference winners SUSA Academy.  As hosts, SUSA chose to avoid some of the high temperatures in the northeast by playing a 7:30PM semi-final kickoff against Reading United, the repeat Mid Atlantic Conference Champions. SUSA entered the game with a record of 7 wins, 0 draws, and 1 loss, while Reading finished the regular season with 6 wins, 2 draws, and 2 losses.  The winner would face the winner of the first semifinal, Clarkstown, who like Reading was a returnee to the East Region Playoffs. 

Both teams entered the semi-final looking to put their stamp on the game and the first half was a relatively close affair, with Reading enjoying and advantage in shots on goal and corner kicks, with ‘keeper Autum Monty rarely challenged.  Unfortunately Reading entered the half with nothing to show except a 0-0 scoreboard. 

The second half was another story.  Reading started strong and immediately their midfield dominance and offensive pressure paid off and in the 47th minute the tireless Ashley Lavrich pounced on a SUSA defensive miscue and slotted the ball home to spot the visitors to a 1-0 scoreline and Reading women’s first ever lead in a WPSL playoff game.  A few minutes later, in the 50th minute, the Reading pressure got the better of SUSA who committed a rough tackle and SUSA’s Jill Garcia was shown a yellow card. Six minutes later Reading captain Becca Kotula found space on the left side of the field just outside the 18 and unleashed a sweet long distance strike that stranded the SUSA GK and spotted Reading to a well deserved 2-0 lead.  Reading was in complete control but in the 80th minute a Reading defensive turnover resulted in a foul that gave SUSA a direct kick just outside the box that they put up and over the Reading wall past Reading’s GK Sarah Crowley who dove valiantly but the ball squeaked past her to cut the SUSA deficit to one.    Reading maintained possession and was able to see out the final 10 minutes to book their first trip to the East Region Final.

Due to a very large lacrosse tournament across Long Island, Reading had to resort to travelling back through NYC to a hotel in northern NJ and did not arrive to the hotel until 11:30 at night where the team had to eat, shower, wake up and return to Islip for a 1PM WPSL East Region Final against Clarkstown.  While the conditions, time, heat, and tired legs conspired against the Reading women, they showed up to the SUSA Academy complex looking to continue their march to the WPSL Final Four.  Clarkstown had the benefit playing the earlier Saturday semifinal game and sleeping in their own beds but when both teams took the field the game had all the markings of a quality championship game. 

Unfortunately in the 6th minute the speedy Clarkstown midfield exploited the tired legs of Reading and jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead.  While both teams enjoyed spells of possession and opportunities on goal, it was Clarkstown that once again capitalized and in the 23rd minute added to their tally with a goal to claim a 2-0 lead.  In the 31st minute Reading’s Autum Monty made a brilliant stop on a Clarkstown breakaway to limit the Clarkstown lead to 2-0.  Less than 5 minutes later, Sophia Zeppos pounced on a loose ball in the Clarkstown box and smashed it home to halve the scoreline deficit.  Clarkstown took a 2-1 lead into halftime.

Like the semi-final the day before, Reading started the 2nd half hotter than the midday sun beating down on Long Island.  In the 50th minute Reading’s Haley Gschrey used her skill to get herself in front of a Clarkstown defender who committed a clumsy foul that awarded Reading a PK opportunity.  Gschrey would step up and slot home her opportunity to even the game 2-2.  With less than 20 minutes to go and quite a few Reading players showing some heat exhaustion, Clarkstown would have a counter attack and slot home a 71st minute goal to restore their lead, 3-2.  Both teams were feeling the difficulties of playing back to back games (with both teams perplexed why a championship game would be played at 1PM on a 95 degree day).  In the 74th minute Clarkstown would close out the scoring and claim a 4-2 lead that they would not give up.  Clarkstown would see out the game to book their spot in the WPSL Final Four as the East Region representatives.  Reading would see their season end but show pride in taking one step further from their inaugural season.  Reading would finish their sophomore season in the WPSL with 8 wins, 2 draws, and 3 losses.

Reading Men Defeat Ocean City 2-1

By Art Auchenbach 07/08/2024, 10:00am EDT

First win over OCNJ since 2019 keeps Reading on pace for playoff spot

Sunday night the Reading men would be looking to replicate the women’s team success as they made the trip to the shore to face their longtime rivals Ocean City Nor’Easters.  The Reading United - Ocean City rivalry is the oldest in the entire United Soccer Leagues. It stretches back to 1997, when both clubs were professional (as part of the USISL – today’s USL Championship). To that end, Sunday's game was the 59th all time meeting between the two sides. OCN leads the series 25-22-11 and they are unbeaten in the last nine meetings (5-0-4) against Reading.
Entering Sunday night Reading was in 3rd place in the Mid Atlantic Division on 14 points, with local rivals West Chester United on 20 points BUT with Reading having three games left to play (compared to West Chester’s one game – a big matchup July 12 vs. Ocean City).  Reading would need at least six points from the final three games to give themselves a chance for a first playoff spot since 2019.

Reading were able to feature the return of Jack McDaid and Sam Hershey who missed the July 29th home match against Real Central NJ, a lackluster 1-1 draw.  Coach Casey Moore lined Reading up in a 3-5-2 formation to put pressure on the OCNJ back line.  The lineup change worked well with Reading dictating the tempo of the game and enjoying large periods of possession in the first half against their archrivals.  Reading used their width and pace to get continuous service into the OCNJ penalty area, creating numerous chances on goal, but with most opportunities just glancing wide.  It wasn’t until the 29th minute of the game that Ocean City was able to register a shot on frame that was easily collected by the calm and composed Keiran Brown in the Reading goal.  In the 35th minute Reading midfielder Zach Gardner unleashed a monstrous volley that had the OCNJ ‘keeper stranded but the ball falling inches wide of the goal.  In the 40th minute a reckless tackle in midfield by OCNJ was allowed to “play on” due to Reading maintaining possession, only for OCNJ to commit another reckless tackle just out side the OCNJ penalty area for a deserved Reading free kick.  The ever dangerous Reading midfielder Dominik Topolsky stepped up and unleashed a laser beam into the OCNJ net and a well deserved Reading 1-0 lead.  Reading saw out the half and would take the 1-0 lead into the halftime break.

An ominous, dense, fog settled over the Ocean City HS field at the start of the second stanza.  Ocean City showed much more energy and resolve and started the half with much more pressure than they showed in the first half.  In the 48th minute OCNJ created their best chance of the game with a cross and resulting shot dipping just wide of the Reading goal.  A Reading foul in the 53rd minute gifted the hosts a free kick in a dangerous area but the resulting shot was well handled by GK Kieran Brown for the save.  Midway through the second half Reading’s legs were starting to tire and in the 70th minute the Reading bench made their first subs of the game.  Rob Lyons and Sam Nyenka entered the game in a like-for-like change with Zach Gardner and Modou Faye which quickly paid dividends.  Less than 10 minutes later a Reading cross and shot in the box created a scramble in front of goal and in the 77th minute Reading leading goal scorer Sam Hershey was on the spot to slam it home for a Reading 2-0 lead.  

However Ocean City would not go quietly into the mist of the night and in the 84th minute another Reading foul created a free kick opportunity for OCNJ.  Ocean City defender Agustin Resch crushed the ball through the Reading wall and into the back of the net for the hosts first shot on frame of the 2nd half and a lifeline back into the game.  Reading maintained their poise and mental focus but in the 90th minute an OCNJ through ball found a streaking OCNJ player but the play was whistled for a delayed offside.  Reading was able to ride out the four minutes of stoppage time and collect the much needed three points on the night.  The win was Reading’s first in the last nine meetings with OCNJ and kept their 2024 playoff dreams alive.  The loss was only Ocean City’s 2nd of the season.

The Reading men return to action Wednesday night at Real Central NJ for a game that will go far in deciding Reading’s playoff fate.  Ocean City host West Chester for both teams final game on Saturday July 13.  Reading host their final 2024 regular season game on Saturday July 13 against LVU Rush.  A win by Reading in their final two games should be enough to book their spot in an USL2 Eastern Conference play-in game.