K-W United FC formally introduced

(Photo by Chad Leitch)

(Photo courtesy of Chad Leitch)

And it begins. For Barry MacLean, the head coach of Wilfrid Laurier University’s women’s soccer team, there’s something new to focus on during the off-season.

On wednesday afternoon at the Core Facility and Recreational Complex in Kitchener, MacLean, president of K-W United FC, alongside director of football Brett Mosen, formally introduced the new K-W United FC soccer team.

The program will run with support from the Kitchener Soccer Club and Mosen will act as the inaugural head coach for the franchise.

“I’m thrilled,” MacLean said following the press conference. “Up until this, it wasn’t real. Now it’s real. It’s out there and there’s no going back. I’m excited.”

The teams will be run within the United Soccer League (USL), with the Premier Developmental League (PDL) and W-League franchises being implemented.

The PDL league will serve as a developmental ground for players, while the W-League is the highest level of soccer for women in North America. Many players from the league and the W-League have gone on to play professionally elsewhere, such as international stars like Christine Sinclair and Hope Solo, as well as Laurier alumna Alyssa Lagonia, who recently signed in Italy’s Serie A. Lagonia played for the Ottawa Fury in the W-League while she was attending Laurier.

The team that is originally from Hamilton, was moved to Kitchener-Waterloo, where there is more of a soccer infrastructure, according to MacLean.

The home games for both teams will be played at Laurier’s University Stadium. In addition, Laurier’s men’s and women’s soccer teams will begin playing their home games also at University Stadium this fall. Prior, they played on Alumni Field.

MacLean also said there is a movement to combine Laurier’s season tickets for soccer with the season tickets with K-W United FC.

“We’re still going to have to map out what the strategy will be, but we’re going to be doing something with the Laurier men’s and women’s programs,” MacLean said. “We’ve got to map out what exactly that’s going to be. But it’s going to be a massive boom for the Laurier program and from a recruiting standpoint this could be massive boom for the Laurier program.

“I’m hoping that the Laurier support will also overflow into ours as well. From a Laurier standpoint, this is a big deal for soccer on campus.”

Mario Halapir, head coach of the men’s soccer team at Laurier, also echoed his sentiments at the media advisory Wednesday afternoon.

“I’m hoping, just like I think Barry’s hoping, that this is going to be something that is going to be tremendously successful,” said Halapir. “I think one of the key components is to tie in the community, and the fact that we’ve been able to bring the community groups together.

“When we were working on this, I felt like it was very important to make this part of the process. That the club, the PDL, is supported by a local club which the Kitchener Soccer Club will provide.”

MacLean says the new team in the area could be a potential springboard for Laurier’s talent, and a good way to keep local talent in the area.

“We’ve talked to Kelsey Tikka and Emily Brown, two players at Laurier who we believe are good enough to make the team,” he said. “Recruiting on the men’s side is extensive. It’s a big undertaking but we’re actively out there already.”

“Just for the general state of soccer, I think this will be a very critical aspect in elevating soccer to the next level and obviously giving the kids the ability to look forward to getting somewhere,” Halapir said.

Open try outs for the teams will run April 19 through 21, while the seasons will start at the end of May. Both teams play from May to August.

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