Don't bother looking for the "brand-new" sticker on historic Kettering Atwood Stadium's nascent women's soccer side. Flint City AFC is an expansion team in name only.
Coach Aaron Roy's outfit enters the 2022 inaugural USL W League campaign as a pulsating machine, featuring a roster comprised of many players who've competed together for three years as UWSL’s Corktown AFC.
Under a new banner and league, Flint City AFC is anything but a newbie and has grand plans.
"Our team is looking really good, we've got a good mix of players. It's only going to get better in the coming years," said Roy, who is in his 21st year of coaching. "We've talked about reaching out nationally and potentially housing players over the summer. Once we can extend that reach, we can capitalize on our connections across the country.”
Meanwhile, Flint City AFC's sideline boss is stoked about the 12-game season (plus Milk Cup and USL W playoffs) which opens at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 7, at Atwood Stadium against AFC Ann Arbor.
Here are five storylines to watch in 2022:
◼Net-buster: Forward Itala Gemelli (Rochester, MI) returns and was Corktown AFC's leading goal-getter (6 goals in 453 minutes). The 5-foot-4 sniper proceeded to top the University of Dayton in goals (12 in 1,048 minutes, 17 matches with 13 starts) in an award-laden sophomore campaign where she was named Atlantic-10 Women's Soccer Rookie of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year. "She's a great kid," Roy said. "Her work rate is just unmatched. She just works so hard and she is so competitive."
◼ Captain punch: Defender Ashley Barron (Toledo, Ohio) joins goalkeeper Haley Craig (Dexter, MI) as Flint City AFC co-captains this season. Barron (540 minutes, Corktown 2021) is coming off a phenomenal junior year at Cincinnati, which included being named the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year for a second consecutive season. Craig (11 saves, Corktown '21) represented the U.S. Women at the U15 and U19 levels and is entering her sophomore year at Stanford University in California.
◼ Local zip: Midfielder Emma Hiscock (Fenton, MI) and forward Paige Webber (Grand Blanc, MI) will be representing Genesee County. Hiscock (2 goals, 3 assists, 240 minutes, Corktown '21) was a two-time letter winner at Fenton High and represented the U.S. Women at the U15 level. The 5-foot-4 attacking midfielder is entering her junior year at the University of Louisville. Webber (1 goal, Corktown '21) was the 2018 Gatorade Player of the Year and Ms. Soccer finalist at Grand Blanc High where she lettered in the sport for three years. The Indiana University sophomore was the team’s leading goal scorer (5) and named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after bagging a hat trick in a win over Murray State on Sept. 9, 2021.
◼Ornery outlook: While a majority of Flint City AFC's schedule is against instate foes, two stick out: Detroit City FC (Sunday, May 29 at Atwood, 4 p.m.) and Midwest United (Friday, June 24 at Atwood, 7 p.m.). Corktown AFC developed a boiling rivalry with DCFC due to their proximity while Midwest United's fierce competition evolved due to the Grand Rapids' club finishing ahead of Roy's side for the UWS 2021 Great Lakes Division crown. "Those are the two games our coaching staff and our players look forward to the most," Flint's coach said.
Opening Night - Post Game Fireworks
Stick around after the inaugural match on Saturday night, May 7th for post game fireworks presented by PFCU and Bishop International Airport. Typically the fireworks display and music will begin five minutes after the players walk off the pitch.
Individual match tickets for the men and women are $7, $12 and $17 and are available now at www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets will also be available on match day at the stadium gates. Section One, VIP season tickets are still available for both teams by visiting www.flintcitybucks.com and/or www.flintcityafc.com. Discounted group tickets are available by emailing email@example.com.