W-League News Release
Thursday, April 24, 2014
TAMPA, Fla. – The W-League is pleased to announce that the W-League Championship presented by Nike will return to the world-class facilities of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida July 25-27. The W-20 Championship will once again take place alongside the W-League Championship, July 24-27.
After a successful 2013 event featuring top college and international stars, including members of the 2013 NCAA College Cup champions UCLA, all four W-League Championship matches will again be available live for fans on YouTube, as will the W-20 Championship final.
“Building off last year’s event is an exciting opportunity for the league to continue showcasing future professionals throughout North America and enhance the overall standard and experience of the event for players and clubs alike,” W-League & W-20 Senior Director Amanda Duffy said. “The superior competition achieved in all four of last year’s W-League final four matches was noteworthy, and the new dynamic of each of the four teams representing a conference was a well-received adjustment.”
Nine teams will qualify for the postseason with one team advancing from each conference to the 2014 W-League Championship. The four conference winners will meet July 25-27 in a ‘final four’-format championship. The semifinals will be played on Friday, July 25 with the winners meeting for the 2014 W-League Championship on Sunday, July 27.
The top three seeds in the Central Conference will advance to the Central Conference Championship, with the No. 2 seed hosting the No. 3 seed in the conference semifinal and the winner moving on to face the No. 1 seed. The top two seeds will advance to a single-match championship in the Southeastern, Northeastern and Western Conference Playoffs.
Eight teams will earn a trip to the W-20 Championship in July, with playoff allocations based on the number of teams in each division. The Midwest, North Atlantic Division and South Atlantic divisions will receive two spots at the W-20 Championship, while the Southeast Division receives one. A single wildcard qualifier – the team with the highest point percentage at the end of the regular season after the divisional allocations have been clinched – will also earn a trip to Bradenton.
“Having the W-20 Championship alongside the W-League Championship continues to give us a unique opportunity to expose younger players to the next level of women’s soccer in North America,” Duffy said. “In addition, bringing the players to IMG Academy gives them the opportunity to play meaningful matches at one of the world’s top soccer facilities.”
The Pali Blues captured the 2013 W-League title with a 1-0 victory against the Laval Comets, and after a merger between Pali and the LA Strikers that formed the LA Blues, the club is expected to once again contend for a title in 2014. The Kalamazoo Kingdom took home the inaugural W-20 title with a 2-1 victory against Force FC Football Academy at IMG, and will be back as the Grand Rapids Crew Juniors in 2014.
As the premier U-20 adult-amateur women’s league in North America, W-20 provides the necessary platform for top 17- to 20-year-olds in the United States and Canada to compete at an elite level, while also serving as a reserve system for professional and senior adult-amateur women’s teams. W-20 utilizes the W-League’s operational infrastructure that emphasizes quality ownership, league standards and player development to maintain itself as the leader in under-20 women’s soccer in North America.
The W-League and W-20 continue to be best positioned to prepare players and clubs for the next levels of adult amateur and professional women’s soccer, and each step advances their alignment with U.S. Soccer’s women’s professional league, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
The world’s largest and most advanced multi-sport training and education complex, IMG Academy regularly hosts top soccer teams from throughout North America and the world. For more than 30 years, IMG Academy has helped countless youth, adult, collegiate and professional athletes reach their full potential in and out of sport, by providing world-class coaching, tailored programs and professional facilities within an energetic environment across a 450-acre campus.