Season Recap: PlayStation Division Clubs
For most clubs, supporters, and players involved with the Lower League eCup, the eCup is an offseason segway into the new year.
This is part two of three in our season recap series, in which we’re recapping some of the best performances by eCup clubs in 2021. We’ll be sharing the recaps of the games, stories, and seasons that made 2021 special for so many clubs, players, and fans.
Today, in the second edition of the Summer Recap, we’re focusing on three of the best seasons by clubs that were represented in the 2021 PlayStation Division.
League: National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), Central Conference
Result: Central Conference Champions, National Finalist
After taking home the 2021 Lower League eCup title, Tulsa Athletic was destined for success in their 2021 NPSL season. Entering a season in which four of the six teams in the Heartland Conference were expansion clubs, followers of the club and league had the right to have high expectations for the NPSL regional powerhouse.
Despite these lofty expectations, Tulsa got off to a slow start by winning only two of their five matches to begin the season. Sitting in third in the Heartland Conference at the season’s midpoint and outside of the Top 30 clubs in the NPSL National Power Rankings, Tulsa rebounded to win four of their five final matches to clinch a second-place finish in the Heartland Conference.
Even after their late-season surge into the playoffs, Tulsa’s season almost came to a close in the first round of the Conference Playoffs. Hosting OKC 1889 FC in the first round, Tulsa needed a stoppage-time equalizer to send the match into extra time, before prevailing in a penalty shootout. Tulsa followed that result by taking down Springfield Demize on the road in the Heartland Conference final, avenging their only loss of the regular season.
Tulsa’s long road to the national championship game wouldn’t get any easier, as Athletic hosted Southern States SC (Hattiesburg, MS) in the South Region Championship. After ending regulation in a 1-1 deadlock, Tulsa’s Rio Mello scored a last-second winner in the 119th minute, giving Tulsa a berth in the national semifinals. Drawn on the road against FC Baltimore Christos, one of the nation’s most successful amateur clubs famous for their run in the 2017 U.S. Open Cup, Tulsa shocked the NPSL by taking down top-seeded Christos, 1-0 to advance to the National Championship.
In the end, Tulsa’s quest for a national championship would fall just short, as Athletic fell 5-2 to the Denton Diablos in the NPSL National Final. Regardless of the result, 2021 will go down as the most successful in club history, and the future is bright in Tulsa.
National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), Central Conference
USL League Two (USL2), Metropolitan Division
- NPSL Central Conference Champions, National Finalist
Another former eCup Champion, the Morristown, NJ-based amateur powerhouse looked to build on their club’s continued success with deep runs in the NPSL and USL League Two Seasons.
The 2018 NPSL National Runner-Ups, Motown finished the regular season with a record of seven wins, one draw, and two losses. That record was good enough for a third-place finish in the Keystone Conference, perhaps the most competitive conference in the NPSL. Motown then avenged an early-season loss to Atlantic City FC in the Conference Semifinals, before taking down FC Monmouth to claim the Keystone Conference Title.
Motown’s path in the national playoffs wouldn’t get any easier, as they were matched against Southeast Conference Champion Georgia Revolution FC, who had only dropped one match all season and were in the midst of their best season in club history. Motown would prevail, 2-1, on the back of a 90th-minute winner from Roy Boateng. However, their quest for an NPSL title would be cut short in the East Region final, falling on the road in penalties to FC Baltimore Christos.
In addition to another successful NPSL campaign, Motown launched a side in USL League Two focused on providing another pathway to the professional level for collegiate and elite academy players. Motown’s inaugural USL League Two season finished short of the playoffs, as Motown finished fifth of nine teams in the Metropolitan Division.
League: Wisconsin Primary Amateur Soccer League (WPASL)
Result: WPASL Champions
After taking home a WPASL title for the first time in 2020, Bateaux FC (Eau Claire, WI) looked to repeat in 2021. This year also marked the debut season of eCup participant Josh Ranft as head coach of Bateaux after serving in an interim role during the previous fall exhibition season.
Bateaux raced out to an impressive start, winning their first three matches by a combined margin of 16-0. While they appeared the be on pace to repeat, Bateaux’s title hopes were dimmed, but not erased, by back-to-back losses to Hayward Wolfpack and Lobos FC. At the halfway point of the season, Bateaux sat near the middle of the table and in danger of missing the WPASL Championship game.
Bateaux responded by winning their final five matches of the regular season to clinch a berth in the Championship. In addition, the Wisconsin outfit outscored opponents 34-2 over this five-game stretch. A win on July 11th over rivals Lobos FC (which ended in a literal brawl) put Bateaux into second place in the WPASL, a position which they would not relinquish. In the WPASL Championship, Bateaux avenged an early-season loss to rivals Hayward Wolfpack FC through a 104th-minute winner from seventeen-year-old Mason Sherman. The win gave Bateaux their second consecutive WPASL title and all signs point to Bateaux being the favorites for a three-peat in 2022!