Western New York Flash

Western New York Flash
Full name Western New York Flash Football Club
Nickname(s) Flash
Founded 2008
Stadium Rhinos Stadium, Rochester, NY
Ground Capacity 13,768
Owner Joe Sahlen
President Alexandra Sahlen
Head Coach Paul Riley
League National Women's Soccer League
Website Club home page

The Western New York Flash (WNYF) is an American professional soccer club based in Elma, New York, that competes in the National Women's Soccer League. Though based in the Buffalo, New York, suburb, the Flash play all home games at Rochester Rhinos Stadium in Rochester, New York. The Flash train out of Sahlen Sports Park in Elma.

The team was founded in 2008 as the Buffalo Flash, playing in the USL USL W-League. For the 2011 season, the team became the Western New York Flash and joined Women's Professional Soccer. In 2012, the team was a member of Women's Premier Soccer League Elite. The Flash won three consecutive league championships from 2010 to 2012, all in different leagues. The club became W-League Champions in 2010, followed by a Women's Professional Soccer title in 2011 and the Women's Premier Soccer League Elite championship in 2012. The Flash reached the inaugural NWSL Championship during the 2013 season, but fell to the Portland Thorns FC while searching for their fourth-straight title.

The franchise is owned by the Sahlen family, who run a meat packing company in Buffalo.[1] Joe Sahlen is the owner. His daughter, Alex Sahlen, is the team President and a former defender on the team.[2]



In 2009, Buffalo Flash made its debut in the Great Lakes (formerly Northern) Division of the Central Conference, lining up against teams from Hamilton, Laval, London, Ottawa, Quebec City, Rochester and Toronto. It finished second, with a regular season record of 9–2–3 from their 14 matches, undefeated in their seven games on the road, and with 40 goals scored, and 10 conceded. In the post-season playoffs, the Flash reached the Central Conference semi-final, to end their inaugural season with a 10–3–3 record. They were beaten 3–0 by FC Indiana, the only other full-time professional outfit in the league.[3]

The 2009 team roster included players from six countries across four continents. There were four local players from Western NY, various US players from numerous states (including two with USA U-20 National Team experience), players from the full Italian National Team, Portuguese National Team, South African National Team, and also from Spain and Japan. To aid team bonding, the squad were housed in the same apartment complex.[3]


Original Buffalo Flash logo

Before the 2010 season Buffalo Flash signed English trio Gemma Davison, Eartha Pond and Ann-Marie Heatherson.[4] Mele French and Kelly Parker arrived from German club SC Freiburg.[5] Kimberly Brandão returned despite attending a training camp with Sky Blue FC, but Erika Sutton left for the Boston Breakers[6] and Sarah Wagenfuhr joined St. Louis Athletica.[7]

In 2010 Buffalo Flash competed in the Midwest Division of the USL W-League, finishing the regular season 14–0–2 against Chicago Red Eleven, Cleveland Internationals, Kalamazoo Outrage and London Gryphons.[8] Buffalo Flash won the W-League Championship by defeating the Vancouver Whitecaps 3–1 at Harry Welch Stadium in Santa Clarita, California.[9] They finished the season undefeated, while Kelly Parker was named W-League MVP.[9]


The Flash face off at home against Philadelphia for the 2011 WPS Championship

The team made plans to move to Women's Professional Soccer for the 2011 season. In September 2010, team president Alex Sahlen and coach Aaran Lines—both of whom have played for Rochester-based soccer teams—indicated that the team was looking at playing up to half of its WPS home games at Rochester's Marina Auto Stadium (now Rhinos Stadium).[2] On September 24, WPS officially confirmed that the new team would indeed join the league.[10] The name of the WPS team was announced as the Western New York Flash on December 1, 2010.[11] The September announcement confirmed that the team would play half its home games at Marina Auto Stadium. The remaining games were originally intended to be played at Niagara Field, a smaller facility on the campus of Niagara University in Lewiston that was set to be expanded to 4,000 for the 2011 WPS season.[12] The league also attempted to negotiate a deal with All-High Stadium in Buffalo, although the owners of the field, Buffalo Public Schools, never responded. However, the December announcement indicated that the entire 2011 home schedule would be in Rochester.[11]

The Flash selected Alex Morgan with the first pick in the 2011 WPS Draft.[13]

On January 25, 2011, the Flash signed 2009 and 2010 WPS MVP and WPS Golden Boot Marta.[14]

With a 13–2–3 regular season record, the Flash earned the regular season title and the right to host the WPS Championship presented by Citi. On August 27, 2011, Western New York Flash capped their inaugural season in WPS by capturing the 2011 WPS Championship title 1–1 (5–4) in a penalty kick shootout in front of the largest championship crowd in league history.[15]


When it was announced that WPS had suspended its 2012 season, the Flash announced their plans to continue playing[16] and shortly thereafter joined the new Women's Premier Soccer League Elite. During the 2012 playoffs, the Flash won the championship in penalty kicks.[17]


Then, they joined the newly formed National Women's Soccer League which came with subsidized funding from the respective USA, Canada, and Mexico official governing bodies for the sport. The Western New York Flash became the first-ever NWSL Shield winners, finishing at the regular season champion. The club ended the year tied for first place with both FC Kansas City and Portland Thorns FC, but held the tiebreak over both teams to claim the shield. With the number one seed, the Flash earned home field advantage through the playoffs, and drew No. 4 Sky Blue FC for its semifinal match.[18]

The team shutout Sky Blue 2–0 in the opening game, earning the right to host the Thorns in the 2013 NWSL Championship at Sahlen's Stadium in Rochester.[19] The Flash ultimately finished second, losing to Portland in the championship game to the score of 2–0, denying the Flash a bid for a record-breaking fourth-straight title in a fourth different league.[20]


See also: NWSL stadiums

In 2009 the team played their home games at Orchard Park High School Field, in Orchard Park, New York, 15 miles south-east of downtown Buffalo, NY, and trained daily at the nearby Sahlen's Sports Park in Elma, NY. In 2010 the team played home games at the Demske Sports Complex at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York.[21]

In February 2011, the Sahlen family obtained the naming rights to Marina Auto Stadium in Rochester, which was called Sahlen's Stadium from 2011 through 2015.[22][23] Since that time, the team has played their home games in Rochester.

The stadium has a seating capacity of 13,768. The stadium's highest attendance record was set on July 20, 2011 at 15,404 during a match between the Flash and magicJack (led by player-coach and Rochester native, Abby Wambach) after the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. The game was also the largest single-game crowd in WPS history.[24]

Colors and badge

The Flash's home colors are white and away colors are red.[21] The Flash logo is designed to reflect that of Sahlen's, the team's parent company.


Year League Regular Season Playoffs AVG. Attendance
2009 USL W-League 2nd, Great Lakes Division Central Conference semi-final 210
2010 USL W-League 1st, Midwest Division USL W-League Champions 236
2011 WPS 1st WPS Champions 4,881
2012 WPSL Elite 2nd WPSL Elite Champions
2013 NWSL 1st Runner-Up 4,485
2014 NWSL 7th Did not qualify 3,177
2015 NWSL 7th Did not qualify 2,860
2016 NWSL 4th NWSL Champions 3,868

First-team squad

As of June 21, 2016

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
0 United States GK Katelyn Rowland
1 Canada GK Sabrina D'Angelo
2 United States MF Michaela Hahn
3 United States FW Makenzy Doniak
4 United States MF Elizabeth Eddy
5 United States MF Samantha Mewis
6 New Zealand DF Abby Erceg
7 United States MF McCall Zerboni
8 Australia DF Alanna Kennedy
9 United States FW Lynn Williams
No. Position Player
11 United States FW Taylor Smith
13 United States MF Abby Dahlkemper
14 United States FW Jessica McDonald
15 United States DF Jaelene Hinkle
17 United States FW Kristen Hamilton
19 Canada FW Adriana Leon
22 United States DF Laura Liedle
23 United States DF Courtney Niemiec
25 United States MF Meredith Speck
28 United States GK Britt Eckerstrom

Coaching staff

Position Staff
Head Coach England Paul Riley
Technical Director United States Charlie Naimo
Strength & Conditioning Coach United States Demeris Johnson

Last updated: November 17, 2015
Source: [25]

Notable former players

Former members of the team who have represented their respective senior national teams are:



See also


  1. "Buffalo Flash join W-League in 2009". USLsoccer.com. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
  2. 1 2 DiVeronica, Jeff (September 16, 2010). "Women's soccer on horizon". Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, New York. Gannett Company. p. 1D. Archived from the original on September 16, 2010. Retrieved September 16, 2010.
  3. 1 2 Sarah Delmonte. "Flash Forward: Soccer In Buffalo". Sports & Leisure Magazine. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
  4. "Buffalo fields English flair in 2010". USLsoccer.com. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
  5. "Buffalo Sign 2 From Sky Blue". USLsoccer.com. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
  6. "Breakers Agree to Terms with Free Agents Tiffany Weimer and Erika Sutton". PlayLikeaGirlSports.com. Archived from the original on November 18, 2015. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
  7. "Sarah Wagenfuhr". Women's Professional Soccer. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
  8. "united-states – W-League". Soccerway. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
  9. 1 2 "Buffalo Flash Wins USL W-League Women's Soccer Championship". Hometime Station AM 1220. 2010-08-02. Retrieved 2010-09-20.
  10. "Western New York Franchise Set to Join WPS as Eighth Team" (Press release). Women's Professional Soccer. September 24, 2010. Retrieved September 24, 2010.
  11. 1 2 "Western New York WPS Franchise unveils team name" (Press release). Western New York Flash. December 1, 2010. Retrieved December 2, 2010.
  12. Moritz, Amy (September 23, 2010). "Buffalo slated to receive WPS team". The Buffalo News. Retrieved September 24, 2010.
  13. http://www.calbears.com/sports/w-soccer/spec-rel/011411aac.html
  14. womensprosoccer.com; Western New York Flash acquire Marta; January 25, 2011
  15. womensprosoccer.com; Flash Win WPS Championship ; August 28, 2011
  16. http://www.buffalonews.com/sports/article717630.ece
  17. "WNY Flash Crowned WPSL Elite Champs". Western New York Flash. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  18. http://wnyflash.com/?template=template&form_id=5733&page=news.cfm
  19. http://wnyflash.com/?template=template&form_id=5740&page=news.cfm
  20. http://wnyflash.com/?template=template&form_id=5741&page=news.cfm
  21. 1 2 "Watkins Glen title sponsor names grand marshals". motorsport.com. Retrieved 2010-05-25.
  22. "Sahlen acquires 10 year naming rights to Rochester stadium". Equalizer Soccer. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  23. Sharp, Brian. "Frontier re-ups on ballpark naming rights". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  24. "A record-setting 15,404 people saw Western New York Flash beat magicJack 3–1 at Sahlen's Stadium in Rochester, NY on Wednesday 20th July 2011.". Women's Soccer United. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
  25. "Coaching Staff". Western New York Flash. Retrieved 2015-11-17.
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