Courtesy of UA Athletics
Alabama Soccer is well-represented in the Women’s Premier Soccer League and League 1 this summer, with Riley Mattingly, Reyna Reyes and Aislin Streicek lighting up the league.
The Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) is in its 23rd season this year. The league, recognized by the NCAA and sanctioned by the United States Adult Soccer Association – an affiliate of the governing body of United States soccer, the United States Soccer Federation – is consistently home to collegiate, post-collegiate, elite club players and international players alike. With 141 active teams, the league – while not well-known outside of the soccer community – has a large footprint in NCAA athletes’ summer training programs.
Riley Mattingly – now Riley Parker – has returned for a second season in the WPSL. Parker has previously played for SouthStar FC, a team based out of Texas. Parker played for SouthStar in 2019, then stepped away from the WPSL for two seasons: 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2021 after tearing her ACL in Alabama’s spring season. Parker said after a brief hiccup in the beginning of the 2022 season, her knee is feeling good, and she is working her way out of the brace in the 2022 WPSL season.
Parker and her husband – a former Alabama football athlete – have moved to Alabama, so Parker has moved to Alabama FC for the 2022 WPSL season. Parker and Alabama FC have played four matches with a 3-0-1 record. Parker has scored four goals this season, and she has recorded one assist. Alabama FC sits second in the Southeast Conference, behind the Nashville Rhythm.
Parker continues to go back to the WPSL to stay sharp in the offseason.
“It’s a great way to get games in and to get touches on the ball,” Parker said. “It’s fun to play with other players you don’t typically play with, so it’s fun to make new friends and see how you can fit into a different style of play.”
Alabama FC boasts multiple NCAA players spanning from Auburn, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, UAB, and Parker representing the University of Alabama.
Reyna Reyes, recently named to the active CONCACAF roster for the Mexican Women’s National Team, agrees that playing in the WPSL is a great opportunity for NCAA players to keep up their fitness and get touches on the ball in the offseason.
Reyes has two goals in four matches for FC Dallas: an affiliate of the Major League Soccer side FC Dallas. Reyes and FC Dallas sit first in the Northern Division of the Red River Conference with a record of 4-0-0.
Reyes says she is taking the opportunity playing in the WPSL “to try new things such as [different] skills [and] shooting more often” as she works to continue her development as a player.
Reyes aspires to go professional after her 2022 Alabama Soccer season, and she is hoping that her time in the WPSL will help her on that journey.
“The WPSL may help those plans, because you never know who’s watching at any time or who is involved that could help you later on,” Reyes said. “It also helps you get used to playing with new players, a new coach, and new rivals, while competing for a spot to play, which is what you would do after going pro in a brand-new team, league and coach.”
Reyes says she likes that the WPSL gives her a chance to play “11 v. 11 soccer at a high level” while she is preparing for fall season with the Crimson Tide.
Aislin Streicek is playing for the TSS Rovers in a newly formed league in British Columbia – League 1 – that is affiliated with the WPSL.
Streicek said a large part of her decision to play this summer had to do with League 1’s formation.
“It’s great to be part of something that gives women an opportunity to play semi-professional [soccer] in British Columbia,” Streicek said.
Streicek, like Parker and Reyes, appreciates the opportunity to play with other elite women from various schools and regions in America. Streicek played for Vancouver Whitecaps FC – an affiliate of the Whitecaps’ Major League Soccer side – and was excited to play with old club teammates on TSS Rovers. Streicek says playing with old teammates is “so much fun” and that she’s also “playing in a league that’s competitive [while] working towards the championship at the end of the summer.”
Streicek has scored two goals, including this strike from distance, and the TSS Rovers women’s side sit third in League 1. Streicek has also made League 1’s Women’s Team of the Week this season.
Until the season returns to the Alabama Soccer Complex in the fall, Alabama Soccer fans can rest assured that the Crimson Tide will boast sharp players after successful summer league play.