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Sports Then and Now

Western New York Flash Make Successful WPS Debut 3

Posted on April 18, 2011 by John Wingspread Howell

Women’s Professional Soccer’s newest team came away from their season opener with a decisive win over Boston’s Breakers in front of more than 4,000 fans in Harvard Stadium.

Despite the fact that Boston opened their season a week ago in Atlanta, roundly defeating the Beat by 4-1, and despite the fact that the expansion Western New York Flash was playing their first real game without their star striker, the new girls on the block dominated every aspect of the match, eventually winning 2-1.

Their play wasn’t always pretty and despite some chances, it took them 64 minutes to score their first goal, but considering their headliner, Brazilian phenom, Marta, was unable to join her team mates due to delays in processing immigration paperwork, and considering the fact that this new team had no preseason contests against professional clubs at any level, they did well by themselves.

The Boston Breakers (1-1-0) were unable to come back from a two-goal deficit Sunday night in their first home game of the season. In fact, the score doesn’t really tell the story. Boston was kept off the scoreboard until well into stoppage time. After Flash keeper Ashlyn Harris made an acrobatic stop, The Breakers’ Kelly Smith tapped the rebound into the box, seconds before the final whistle. Read the rest of this entry →

Western New York Flash: The World’s Best Women’s Soccer Team, Strangers in their Own Land 10

Posted on February 28, 2011 by John Wingspread Howell

Remember the bumper sticker, “What if they threw a war and nobody came?” And then there’s the conundrum about a tree falling in the forest when no one is there.

As the third season of Women’s Professional Soccer draws near, it is possible that the world’s best women’s soccer team will be the tree in the forest unobserved, the war left un-attended.

Western New York is already the center of the women’s soccer world in the sense that meat mogul Joe Sahlen, third generation owner of Sahlen Packing Company in the Buffalo suburbs, singlehandely saved Women’s Professional Soccer. Had Sahlen not come forward offering to buy in with an expansion team, the league would have folded for lack of teams.

After 2010 league champion FC Gold Pride (Bay Area) folded and the Chicago Red Stars suspended play for a season while looking for additional investors, the five remaining clubs in the league would have been one member short of what league management had determined to be the minimum number of teams required to have a meaningful season.

Enter Joe Sahlen, whose Buffalo Flash had just one the W-League championship in only their second year of play, coached by Sahlen’s son-in-law, former New Zealand international Aaron Lines, with Sahlen’s daughter Alexandra on the roster. Sahlen admitted he bought the franchise for the benefit of his daughter, and as a man who likes keeping business in the family, acted completely in character by employing her husband as their coach. Read the rest of this entry →

As Predicted, WNY Flash Takes Alex Morgan First In WPS Draft 5

Posted on January 14, 2011 by John Wingspread Howell

The Western New York Flash made Alex Morgan the first pick in the WPS Draft.

Women’s Professional Soccer held its third annual college draft Friday at the 2011 NSCAA Convention in Baltimore, Maryland.

A surprise to few in the audience, expansion Western New York Flash selected California standout and U.S. national team rising star, forward Alex Morgan with the top pick in the draft, while also nabbing The University of Portland’s Elli Reed as the first defender in the draft with the number eight overall selection.

The Flash had no selections in round two. In round three, the Flash took Notre Dame midfielder Rose Augustin, and chose local favorite, a keeper, Ashleigh Bowers of Niagara.

The Western New York club made a splash in sponsorship as well, at the draft. WPS CEO Anne-Marie Eileraas officially opened the proceedings by announcing the league’s sixth national sponsor, Sahlen’s Hot Dogs. Sahlen’s owner, Joe Sahlen, is also the owner of the Flash. Now his product will not only be the official hot dog of the Buffalo Bills but will be the official hot dog of WPS and will be the hot dog served at all WPS venues, as the company logo will don all WPS jerseys. Read the rest of this entry →

Sahlen’s Hot Dogs Become WPS Sponsor 2

Posted on January 14, 2011 by John Wingspread Howell

Women’s Professional Soccer and Sahlen Packing Company, Inc. of Buffalo, NY, today announced a partnership that makes Sahlen’s the “Official Hot Dog of Women’s Professional Soccer.”

Joe Sahlen, third generation owner and CEO of the family meat packing business is also owner of WPS’s newest club, Western New York Flash. The announcement, released on the day his club made Alex Morgan the first pick in the league’s college draft, put Sahlen, his company and his Flash in dual roles on center stage in Women’s Professional Soccer.

Shalen has already created a unique and ingenious business model by which his team’s business operations will be run through the meat company’s front office, requiring only additional salaries for competitive aspects of team operations, while also using the team as part of his overall marketing strategy, has added further value to the Sahlen brand by becoming a sponsor of the league.

The deal, which includes a “Sahlen’s” logo patch on all WPS team uniforms throughout the 2011 season, was announced by WPS CEO Anne-Marie Eileraas prior to the 2011 WPS Draft at the NSCAA Convention in Baltimore, Maryland.

“We are pleased to add a premier brand like Sahlen’s to our sponsorship roster in the third year of play,” said Eileraas. “With the addition of Sahlen’s as another national sponsor, we are ahead of our plans to bring on new sponsors for the 2011 season – well in advance of pre-season.” As part of the deal, Sahlen’s will also receive placement on the WPS website. Read the rest of this entry →

WPS WNY Side acquires Swedish International Caroline Seger in trade with Philadelphia 12

Posted on December 20, 2010 by John Wingspread Howell

Flash also sign US National Team Midfielder Yael Averbuch

The Western New York Flash added another new part in Swedish star Caroline Seger.

The Western New York Flash of Women’s Professional Soccer have announced they have acquired Caroline Seger from Philadelphia in exchange for WNY’s first pick in the second round in the 2011 WPS Draft and first pick in the second round in the 2012 WPS Draft. In addition, the Flash also agreed to terms with US National Team midfielder Yael Averbuch. These acquisitions are strong additions to the Flash midfield as the expansion side continue to build their squad for the 2011 season.

Seger, the Swedish National Team Captain, comes to WNY with vast professional and international experience. Seger is recognized as one of the top female players in the world, evidenced by her recent nomination for the 2010 FIFA Womens World Player of the year. The winner will be announced in January 2011. Seger has been a member of the Swedish National Team since 2005, and boasts over 45 caps for her country. Seger has competed at the 2007 FIFA World Cup and 2008 Olympic Games. At the club level, Seger was an integral member of the Philadelphia Independence in their inaugural year where they reached the WPS Championship game, eventually falling to Champions FC Gold Pride. Seger appeared 18 times for the expansion side in their tremendous run to the Championship match, logging over 1500 minutes and 1 goal and 5 assists. Before being drafted in the 1st overall pick in the International draft, Seger was captain and crucial member of Linkopings FC in the Swedish Damallsvenskan. During her tenure with Linkopings, Seger was named Damallsvenskan Rookie of the Year in 2005 and Midfielder of the Year in 2006 along with three Swedish league titles. Read the rest of this entry →

From Red Star to a Flash: WPS’s WNY Club Signs Former Chicago Standout Whitney Engen 0

Posted on December 17, 2010 by John Wingspread Howell

With a talented pool of free agents still available and the upcoming WPS collegiate draft, the Western New York expansion team looks to have a strong roster to open league play in April 2011.

Whitney Engen will join the Western New York Flash.

The Western New York Flash of Women’s Professional Soccer announced today that they have agreed to terms with defender Whitney Engen. Engen comes to the Flash after spending her rookie season in 2010 with the (now defunct) Chicago Red Stars.

Engen, 23, from University of North Carolina, was the fourth overall pick in the 2010 WPS Draft. As a rookie she started all 24 games of the season logging 2,156 minutes and helping the Red Stars keep an impressive 1.13 goals against average this past season.

“Whitney is a young, talented player who has her whole future ahead of her,” said Flash Head Coach Aaran Lines. “She’s a leader from the back and has great experience from her rookie year in Chicago. I’m looking forward to working with her and developing her as a player throughout the 2011 season here in WNY.”

UNC is a noted hotbed of women’s soccer in the U.S. collegiate ranks, and Engen stands out even in elite Tarheel company. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Archie Griffin: 2-Time Heisman Winner
      December 11, 2022 | 1:42 pm
      Archie Griffin

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is the only football player ever to capture college football’s top individual award twice.

      As a star running back for the Ohio State Buckeyes, Archie Griffin claimed the Heisman Trophy during his junior season in 1974 and then was able to repeat the honor the following season.

      Griffin joined the Buckeyes for the 1972 season, which happened to be the first in which freshmen were eligible to play varsity football, and made an immediate impact. After fumbling in his only carry of his first game, Griffin more than made up for it in his second game by rushing for 237 yards against North Carolina. By the end of the season, Griffin had rushed for 867 yards.

      Read more »

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