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2024 W League Playoffs Preview: Eastern Conference Semifinals

By Staff, 07/02/24, 12:00PM EDT


Lancaster faces last year's runners up NC Courage, Rough Riders open third playoff run against Eagle FC

The start of the 2024 W League Playoffs is just three days away, where 16 teams will compete to take home the title. Leading up to Friday, we will preview every matchup from all four conferences, with the Eastern Conference up next.  

Catch up on every conference! Read the Central Conference preview here

Eagle FC will host the Eastern Conference playoffs at Mountain View Middle School in Mechanicsburg, PA. The hosts will play the Long Island Rough Riders at 7 p.m. ET after the match between NC Courage U23 and Lancaster Inferno at 3 p.m. ET. The winners will play in the Conference Final on July 7 at 5:30 p.m. 

Tickets can be purchased here

NC Courage U23 vs. Lancaster Inferno 

The Courage are back for redemption after making it to the W League Final last season where they fell 2-1 to Indy Eleven in extra time. Their experience could prove to be the difference-maker as they will face expansion club Lancaster Inferno, which made the playoffs in its first season with the W League. 

NC Courage was unstoppable all season. After drawing 1-1 in its opening match, the team went on to win 11 straight matches to remain undefeated and clinch the South Atlantic Division playoff spot. The team had a +50 goal differential and they spread the wealth, as 18 different players got on the score sheet. As long as the Courage gets players like Macey Bader, Bella Sember and Mackenzie Geigle going, they will be a tough team to beat. 

Lancaster Inferno (10-1-1) took the Mid Atlantic Division by storm in its first season, and nearly dethroned Eagle FC to win the division. The team is extremely well-rounded, recording 50 goals this season while only allowing seven.  Leading the team is Ole Miss commit Kayla Keefer, who has 10 goals and six assists on the season, and holding down the backline is Ryelle Shuey, who started in all 12 matches played and tallied over 1000 minutes on the field. 

Eagle FC vs. Long Island Rough Riders 

Both of these teams are postseason vets looking for redemption this year. Eagle FC made it all the way to the League Semifinals last season before falling to the Courage 4-1; meanwhile, the Rough Riders have failed to make it past the first round in the last two years. Additionally, both teams will be without key players as Nia Christopher and Jessica Garziano have left to join their USL Super League clubs for preseason. 

Eagle FC had a strong mix of returners (Meg Tate, Carly Smith) and new players (Lucy Fazackerley, Phoebe Hollin, Nikayla Small) this season, which all contributed to the +31 goal differential and 10-1-1 record. Goalkeeper Malene Nielsen has also made multiple impressive saves to record a .804 goals-against average. Nielsen and the rest of the Eagle defense will have their hands full against the scoring machine that is Long Island. 

The Rough Riders scored the second-most goals this season with 69. Lucianna Setteducate led the way with 18 goals, followed by Lia Howard (9) and Gianna Paul (8). Long Island had some ups and downs this season and could have clinched earlier if not for them giving up leads and points in a few matches. However, they finished out the season with four strong wins and have a lot of momentum heading into the postseason. 

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

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