Metuchen, NJ – The beast that is the East Conference featured 17 teams, ultimately culminating in an eight-team playoff where two coveted spots in the National Championship were up for grabs. In classic East fashion, the race for the playoffs had fans on the edges of their seats, and the playoffs themselves were marked by intense competition, with every game ending with a narrow scoreline. Despite FC Buffalo dominating the regular season with eight consecutive wins, securing the top seed in the playoffs, it was Sporting CT and Lancaster Inferno who emerged victorious in the Union bracket and Patriot bracket, respectively. Given the East Conference's unique nature, both a first and second team were recognized, alongside the East Conference Awards, which included two Coach of the Year accolades.
Alyssa Minnick of Coppermine United emerged as the East Conference Goalkeeper of the Year. Lancaster Inferno’s Marissa DiGenova was named East Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Tiffany Weimer claimed Offensive Player of the Year for her outstanding attacking contributions to Sporting CT. Additionally, Weimer shared the East Conference Coach of the Year award with her coaching counterpart, Matt Cameron. Stephanie Cleaves of Lancaster Inferno also secured the East Conference Coach of the Year accolade as she led the Inferno to the National Championship final four tournament in her first year as Head Coach.
Alyssa Minnick started all eight of Coppermine United’s regular season games, totaling 679 minutes of play. During this time, Minnick achieved four clean sheets amassing a remarkable 37 saves that ensured her side maintained a 7-0-1 record that saw Coppermine finish third in a highly competitive East conference. Minnick was named UWS Goalkeeper of the Week during Week 6 for her exceptional performances that helped her team secure a six-point week. Notably, Minnick consistently made crucial saves from both short and long-range shots and played a vital role in her team’s build-up play through her confidence with the ball at her feet. As a result, Alyssa Minnick is the 2023 East Conference Goalkeeper of the Year.
Marissa DiGenova proved to be a versatile asset for Lancaster Inferno during the season, playing various positions to meet her team's needs. Primarily, DiGenova acquired minutes as the central defensive midfielder but seamlessly adapted to play outside back in many games. DiGenova's extensive experience in professional and UWS play, combined with her leadership both on and off the field, made her a true leader on and off the field. Her relentless energy to disrupt play defensively and create and join the attack was pivotal in the Inferno’s successful season that saw them return to the National Championship after a four-year hiatus. DiGenova played in eleven games totaling 990 minutes and was the leading goal scorer for the Inferno notching six goals as well as two assists. As a result, Marissa DiGenova is the 2023 East Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
Tiffany Weimer finished the season as both the leading goal scorer and assist-leader in the 2023 UWS season with 13 goals and nine assists. Weimer played a unique dual role for her team, Sporting CT, as a player-coach, averaging 65 minutes a game and making significant contributions even when not on the field alongside fellow Coach Matt Cameron. With a wealth of experience, including prior UWS and professional-level play in six different countries and as the all-time leading goal scorer for Penn State at the collegiate level, Weimer's expertise shone through in the 2023 season. Her exceptional skills with the ball at her feet and leadership for the players around her were key factors in Sporting's impressive 7-1-0 regular season record, which earned them a spot in the National Championship. Weimer's tactical awareness and intelligent off-the-ball movement consistently created opportunities for both herself and her teammates, significantly contributing to their 35 goals during the regular season. As a result, Tiffany Weimer is the 2023 East Conference Offensive Player of the Year.
In addition to Weimer’s contributions on the field as both a player and a leader, Weimer worked alongside Matt Cameron on the coaching staff for Sporting CT leading the team to an impressive inaugural season in the UWS. Sporting CT had previously competed in UWS2 in 2022 and, after winning the New England Conference title, moved up to compete in UWS. Weimer, who is pursuing her USSF A Licence, had earned the UWS League Two Coach of the Year award in a previous season, was supported by USSF A License Coach, Matt Cameron. This year, the dynamic coaching duo returned as equals, aiming to achieve success in one of the most competitive conferences, and they did so with grace and excellence, advancing all the way to the National Championship. As a result, Tiffany Weimer and Matt Cameron of Sporting CT earn one of the East Conference Coach of the Year Awards.
Rookie Head Coach Stephanie Cleaves led Lancaster Inferno to an impressive 2023 season, finishing the regular season with a 6-1-1 record and earning the fourth seed in the playoffs.. It was in the playoffs where Cleaves’ side truly came alight, defeating two established powerhouses in the East, New England Mutiny and regular season champions, FC Buffalo to advance to their first National Championship berth since 2019. Cleaves is a former Inferno player that is currently seeking her USSF B License and previously served as Assistant Coach from 2017-2021. Inferno demonstrated remarkable growth throughout the 2023 season, beginning with a 3-1 loss but overcoming all obstacles to reach the National Championship. In the National Championship semi-final, Cleaves' emphasis on grit and determination was evident, though the team eventually fell 3-2 to Santa Clarita Blue Heat. As a result, Stephanie Cleaves of Lancaster Inferno earns the second East Conference Coach of the Year Award.
GK - Alyssa Minnick (Coppermine United)
D - Sonia Rada (Coppermine United)
D - Kylee McIntosh (Sporting CT)
D - Tess Ford (FC Buffalo)
D / M - Marissa DiGenova (Lancaster Inferno)
M - Phoebe Canoles (Coppermine United)
F - Carissima Cutrona (FC Buffalo)
F - Kale’a Perry (Coppermine United)
F - Katelyn Krohn (Albany Rush)
F - Marcy Barberic (FC Buffalo)
F - Tiffany Weimer (Sporting CT)
GK - Elliott Breech (Lancaster Inferno)
D - Logan Nicholson (Maine Footy)
D - Rebecka Habursky (Erie Commodores)
D - Mackenna Yaracs (Steel City FC)
D - Ryelle Shuey (Lancaster Inferno)
M - Jackie Richards (Lancaster Inferno)
M - Payton Robertson (FC Buffalo)
M / F - Hope Santaniello (NE Mutiny)
F - Catherine Barry (NE Mutiny)
F - Imani Jenkins (Sporting CT)
F - Sarah Woods (FC Buffalo)
United Women’s Soccer (UWS) is a national pro-am league founded in December 2015 on the basis of providing equality, opportunity, and respect for the women’s game. UWS has proven to be an innovative league that has paved the way for the further advancement of women’s soccer. Eighty-plus teams based in the United States and Canada comprise two distinct levels of competition: UWS and UWS League Two (UWS2).
With over 38 NWSL draftees & 100 professional contracts to its name, UWS provides high-level competition for college players, aspiring & former professionals, and international stars. The season runs from May until the end of July, culminating in a National Championship.