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2024 W League Playoffs Preview: Central Conference Semifinals

By Staff, 07/01/24, 2:00PM EDT


Indy and Aurora meet again, Detroit hosts River Light

The 2024 W League playoff bracket is set, and 16 teams are set to face off in the first round on July 5. Leading up to Friday, we will preview every matchup from all four conferences, starting with the Central Conference. 

Detroit City FC will host the Central Conference playoff matches at Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck, MI. The hosts will play River Light FC at 7 p.m. ET after the match between Minnesota Aurora FC and Indy Eleven at 4 p.m. ET. 

Tickets to both matches are available for purchase here

Minnesota Aurora FC vs. Indy Eleven 

Minnesota Aurora FC and Indy Eleven are familiar foes when it comes to the W League playoffs. For the third year in a row, the two sides will meet in the postseason in a Central Conference matchup. The series record between the two is split 1-1; Aurora took down Indy 2-1 in the quarterfinals in 2022, while Indy defeated Aurora 1-0 in the conference final last year in its title run. 

Minnesota Aurora is entering the playoffs following another undefeated season with a record of 10-0-2. They found the back of the net 61 times, averaging over five goals per game. Katie Duong has scored in the last seven matches and can finish in a variety of ways. Mariah Nguyen and Saige Wimes are aggressive in the final third and make excellent runs inside the box. It will be interesting to see how Aurora’s defense, led by captain and goalkeeper Taylor Kane, will fair against the strong offense of Indy Eleven. 

The reigning champs had a more difficult ride to the playoffs, finishing 7-1-2 in the regular season. They’re entering the playoffs coming off two losses; they fell 6-2 to Racing Louisville on Sunday, and longtime head coach Paul Dolinsky announced his departure. The team will need to rely on their experienced vets – Ella Rogers, Sam Dewey, Addie Chester, etc. – to get the squad back on track if they want to have a shot at achieving back-to-back championships. 

Detroit City FC vs. River Light FC 

The other side of the Central Conference bracket is the complete opposite story – two teams entering their first W League playoffs. For the first time in three seasons, Detroit City FC came out on top of its division and clinched a postseason berth. River Light FC secured the Central Conference wild card bid in the club’s first season in the W League. 

Detroit City has looked strong all season. The team finished 10-0-2 and won every home game, which bodes well for the team as the hosts for this weekend. Detroit’s defense has been on lock under the leadership of goalkeeper Gabrielle Schriver, who only allowed three goals in over 900 minutes of play. University of Minnesota’s Sophia Romine has been a star for Detroit over the last few games of the season along with Kayla Addison, the super-sub who leads the team with four goals. 

River Light (8-2-1) will definitely put Detroit’s defense to work, as the team averaged over four goals a game this season. Michigan State’s Mackenzie Anthony leads the team with nine goals followed by Duke forward Devin Lynch with six. River Light is also entering the playoffs following a loss in the last game of the regular season, so picking up a win against Detroit would be a huge momentum builder. 

Catch both matches live on SportsEngine Play, and follow the W League on Instagram and Twitter for playoff updates. 

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