BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — For the first time since 2017, women’s soccer players in Western New York finally have a place to play at the top level.
This season, FC Buffalo fielded its first women’s team, completing the FC Buffalo family with the addition of FC Buffalo Women.
“It’s so exciting. Finally, to have a higher-level women’s team in the Buffalo area,” FC Buffalo forward Carissima Cutrona said. “This team gives players the opportunity to play at a competitive level, either after college or during college, so it’s really exciting now that Buffalo has a chance to compete with the rest of the nation in that area.”
“It’s so exciting, we really didn’t have anything like this last summer in Buffalo and it’s just really exciting to get to play in Buffalo with everyone from the area,” FC Buffalo forward Marcy Barberic said. “There’s a lot of people that I used to play with in youth soccer and past college teams too, so it’s just exciting to play all together again.”
“It’s really exciting! I didn’t expect the turnout and how our season is going, but just to be playing at home in front of fans who come out and support women’s soccer, it’s a huge thing and I’m so happy to be here and be a part of it all,” FC Buffalo defender Maya Palmer said.
The FC Buffalo Women’s team is in its inaugural season, and after just one short year of planning to start the team, they’re currently leading the UWS league with a 6-1-1 record.
“This is the first year that this team is here in Buffalo. It was kind of challenging in the beginning because we’re all from different schools and maybe from a little bit different areas, so it was a little bit challenging all meshing together in the beginning, but we really are working well together now and we want to work for each other and I think that’s why we’re so successful this season,” Barberic said.
“It’s been so much fun honestly, we have such a deep roster of players, we have so many awesome players who bring something unique to the team, so when you combine all of us together it really gives us an opportunity to compete against the other teams in our conference, and we’re having fun doing it too,” Cutrona said.
“Once I saw all the players that were going to play, I knew it was going to be a very talented team. I was excited for all of us to work together because we all kind of know each other in the area, but we all spread out and went to different colleges, so it’s nice to come home and all play together,” Palmer said. “I knew we’d be successful, but never could’ve thought this much success so soon.”
The FC Buffalo Women’s team was the brainchild of club co-owner Nick Mendola and director of women’s soccer Liz Mantel in the summer of 2020. After creating an advisory board of four women in the Buffalo soccer community, the team joined the pro-am United Women’s Soccer League, and was formed of local players from around Western New York.
“Western New York, as we’ve proven, is just a wealth of talent in women’s soccer. The advisory board was really key in that, they brought [head coach] Nikki Bartholomow on board who’s just done an incredible job. While it was a quick turnaround, a lot of work did go into it,” Director of Women’s Soccer Liz Mantel said. “I get a little emotional thinking about how well it’s worked out.
“They’re having fun, and that’s really what’s important at the end of the day because they’re doing it for love of game. They’re not making millions, they’re doing it because they love the game. So to go out there and have fun and win at the same time, you can’t ask for more.”
FC Buffalo Women have two more regular season games left in the schedule before playoffs begin. Their next game is slated for Tuesday, July 6th at 7pm at All-High Stadium.