Tampa Bay Hellenic’s path to the Women’s Premier Soccer League’s final four last year was simple. They won the Sunshine Conference title. Voila!
This year’s quest for a WPSL championship is a little trickier, with three playoff victories — starting Tuesday night against the South Florida Strikers — required to reach championship weekend, and Hellenic coach George Fotopoulos has no problem with that.
“Honestly, you can look at different views. People have different opinions,” said Fotopoulos, whose fifth-year team repeated as Sunshine champ with a 7-0-1 record. “Being a developmental league, our kids have only played eight games. I would take the New York Giants’ way of being a wild card and playing more games. Our kids, every game they get play, they get more experience, more game fitness.
“Not to say if we get to [the final four], we wouldn’t benefit from a rest. But I would prefer to play games up to the final four.”
Hellenic have conquered everybody in the Sunshine, but they’ll have to do so again. Four of the five clubs are in the postseason tournament, with semifinals Tuesday and a final Thursday leading to a Southern regional final Saturday against Southeast Conference titlist Gulf Coast Texans (7-0-0) for a spot in the final four in the WPSL, a national league with more than 70 clubs.
Hellenic are home against the Strikers (1-5-2), whom they crushed, 5-0, in Sunday’s final regular-season outing. That game wasn’t the norm: Five of Tampa Bay’s seven wins have been by one goal. They beat South Florida, 3-1, in the first meeting. more