free hit counter code Semi-Pro Women’s Soccer: Hudson Valley Crusaders open League One competition June 1 at SUNY New Paltz –

Semi-Pro Women’s Soccer: Hudson Valley Crusaders open League One competition June 1 at SUNY New Paltz

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. — The Hudson Valley Crusaders, a semi-pro women’s professional soccer team, will kick off its home opener against the Connecticut Rush at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 1, at SUNY New Paltz.

The Crusaders opened their season in the United Women’s Soccer (UWS) League One’s Eastern Conference on Saturday, May 25, with a 3-0 road victory over the New York Magic. Midfielder Precious Novidzro of Amherst College and Ghana recorded two goals and an assist in the win.

Hudson Valley followed up the win over the New York Magic with a 5-1 victory over the Albany Rush. Megan Stowell scored twice, while Novidzro, Joy Okonye and Caigan Leonard each tallied one goal.

The Crusaders, who play their home matches at SUNY New Paltz’s South Turf Field, captured the 2023 Northeast Conference Championship. Hudson Valley coach Mitchell Kazanjian was named Coach of the Year after the Crusaders finished with a 5-1 record and a goal differential of 22 goals, the highest in the country.

Following its successful 2023 campaign, Hudson Valley was elevated to the United Women’s Soccer’s top tier — League One. It is the second-highest level of women’s soccer in the United States. The Crusaders will also have a squad in League Two, where it competed last season. The leagues are summer leagues for players under 23 years of age.

Crusaders owner Hannah Esslie said she’s excited with the team’s promotion to the highest level of UWS. The season runs from May until the end of July, culminating in a national championship.

“This level of soccer provides players the pathway to the highest levels and we encourage the community to come out to support some future professionals competing here in New Paltz,” Esslie said.

Home games are free of charge and will be streamed on YouTube and on local television station New Paltz Television and Saugerties Lighthouse.

The Crusaders have grown into a powerhouse following a slow start when the team began with an 0-6 record in 2021. It improved to 2-4 in 2022 before taking the Northeast Conference title in 2023, capping its run with a 9-0 rout of the New Jersey-based KM Soccer Academy last season.

Esslie, a junior on Buffalo State’s women’s soccer team, founded the Crusaders in her senior year at Cairo-Durham High School in Greene County.

Kazanjian said Saturday’s home opener is important.

“Our home opener Saturday will be a great opportunity for us to solidify our position at the top of the table as we continue to push for a national title,” the Crusaders coach said. “To be a small part of what the team is accomplishing this summer is humbling. The team has bought into the program and system and the results are showing on the field.”

Kazanjian said the talent on the roster is a direct reflection of how good youth soccer clubs are in the region.

“The Hudson Valley is a hidden gem of soccer talent that often goes overlooked by scouts, college coaches and professional clubs,” he said. “I hope that by us continuing to perform at a high level it brings the attention these clubs in the area deserve so young women can continue to grow the game and see opportunity.”

Following Saturday’s home opener, the Crusaders will have a League Two game at 11 a.m. and a League One game at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 8, at SUNY New Paltz. Doubleheader home games will follow on Saturdays, June 22 and 29.


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