In 2017, FC Pride finished 2nd in the Valley Conference. This year the conference make up has changed but the mission stays the same with the WPSL program.
‘I think we are a little unique in the way we run our WPSL program compared to others’ Head Coach and Executive Director of Coaching Jamie Gilbert said. ‘Our first aim and responsibility is to help our players coming out of our club to get ready for the college season, especially those who are going into a college environment for the first time. There is no doubt that we want to win games, but the opportunity to facilitate a fantastic training environment and get these players ready is what our program is all about.’
Finishing second in the conference, behind eventual WPSL National Champions, Fire & Ice SC, shows that winning games is still possible with a young squad and a developmental approach. A 5-0 home win vs. Columbus Eagles followed by a 1-0 home win vs. Cincinnati Sirens on the last day of the season ensured FC Pride would cement a second place finish, our best finish yet.
The conference re-alignment means that in 2018 FC Pride will play home games vs. Columbus Eagles on June 10th, Motor City FC on June 16th, Indy Saints FC on June 27th and AAFC Lumberjills on the last day of the season, July 8th. We will travel to play Steel City FC on the opening day of the season, May 26th,, Cincinnati Sirens on June 9th, Cleveland Ambassadors on June 17th and Empire Revs on June 30th. All home games will be played at Mount Vernon High School.
When asked about the new local rivalry with Indy Saints and how he feels the schedule looks for this year, Gilbert said: ‘I am excited about playing some new teams in our regular season. Hopefully the Indy Saints game will attract a big crowd and be a good local event, but for anyone who has been in the WPSL for as long as we have, you know that the games against Motor City FC and Cleveland Ambassadors are going to be tough tests for our group. Motor City won our conference in our first year in the WPSL and I am sure they will be well organized and have some special players that we will have to prepare for, as usual. On a personal level, since we have joined the ECNL on the youth side, Caleb Fortune (Cleveland Ambassadors) and I haven’t coached against each other for a while so I am looking forward to us getting back at it on the touchline as we have had some fantastic battles over the years!’
Even though he ended our interview on a slightly lighter note, Gilbert did say that the squad will be as good as ever before and we should look forward to some great soccer this summer: ‘Winter training was really good this year and the group of players that we have on the team this summer is very strong. I am confident we are going to be well set to be competitive this season and I am looking forward to seeing the players have a great summer and get well prepared before heading to their respective college programs!'
Lastly, on March 9th former FC Pride WPSL player, April Bockin, was called into the U23 USA National Team and Gilbert says it is a testament to her hard work and what a good summer of training can do: ‘All of the staff and players were really pleased for April to get the call up. She trained at 100 percent all summer and had a breakout season for Minnesota in the Big 10. She was always a pleasure to coach and we hope she does well at camp. If April takes the intensity she trained at with us to the National Team set up, she will do very well!’