Soccer and one of the finest small stadiums in New England collide this weekend to bring Manchester alive. SoccerFest will be the site of three games, June 11-13, at Manchester’s Applejack Stadium.
It begins on June 11 at 7 p.m. with the USL League Two game between Black Rock FC, a tenant of Applejack, and FC Malaga City.
The next day, the women take center stage with a WPSL game between the local Vermont Fusion and the Rhode Island Rogues at 6 p.m.
Black Rock FC clashes with Seacoast United on June 13 at 6 p.m.
The Fusion had its home opener on Saturday and scored two late goals to tie Westchester United 2-2.
The Fusion is loaded with local talent and if the home opener is any indication, area soccer fans are embracing the team. That game at Applejack included a loud crowd of about 300 fans.
The Fusion’s roster includes two Castleton University goalkeepers, Rutland’s Loren Henderson and Alex Benfatti. The third goalie is Erin Murphy from the University of Buffalo.
Another Rutland product on the team is Logan Kinsman, a midfield player at Springfield College.
Rylee Nichols played at Mill River Union High School and is a standout at Castleton University.
Montpelier’s Cricket Basa, a University of Vermont player, lends more local flavor to the Fusion.
There is a pronounced Manchester flavor in the team with sisters Hannah and Grace Pinkus, Georgia Lord and Aisha Navarrete, former Burr and Burton Academy players. Maddie Kieley, who plays for Fairfield University, also hails from Manchester.
Hannah is a member of the Colgate soccer program and Grace is on the team at the University of Massachusetts.
Lord has played on two NCAA Division III national championship teams at Williams.
Manchester’s Sophie Mills is a St. Lawrence University player.
Arin Bates, who played for Leland & Gray High School and now plays at Clarkson University, is a defender.
Ella Bankert played at Mill River Union High School and Kimball Union Academy, before going on to have an outstanding career at the University of Vermont. She helps control the midfield area for the Fusion.
Paige Karl, by way of Green Mountain Union High School and Skidmore College, is another Fusion midfield player. Kyra Russman-Araya, also a Skidmore player, is a midfield player.
Katelyn Singer and Brooke Jenkins are two more players representing UVM.
Olivia Rayis is a Bowdoin College product and Taylor Arakaki is the Fusion westernmost player, a Hawaiian who plays at Claremont-McKenna Scripps in California.
Arakaki is getting to play with a Claremont-McKenna Scripps teammate as Denver’s Nicole Oberlag is a midfield player.
Tess Belnap played not far down the road from Applejack at Arlington Memorial High School and now plays for Williams. Ilana Albert, of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, is yet another Williams College player on the roster.
Hartland’s Mallory Lloyd played for Sharon Academy before going on to be a forward at Plymouth State.
Natalie Durieux and Hannah Swett played for the soccer powerhouses at CVU. Durieux went to play at UVM and Swett at Williams Smith College.