Published May 12, 2022
Written By:  Conor Forrest
             South Region Contributor


As the Carolinas Conference kicks off the league's 24th season today, it has the makings of an exciting 2022 season. The season opener features a head-to-head with 2021 expansion team, Women's Football Club of Charlotte, and 2022 newcomer, Soda City FC. Tonight's kick-off is set for 7:00 PM ET as Soda City FC hosts WFC.

WFC returns for its second WPSL season after finishing with a 3-4-1 record and fifth in the conference standings. While its inaugural season proved to be a competitive debut, WFC has the potential to make a significant impact this season with notable returners in Ari Maibodi and Kylie Morin who were each named to the 2021 All-Conference team for the Carolinas Southern Division. 

Newcomer Soda City FC will be looking to make an immediate name for itself in its inaugural season. While the club may be new to the league, Soda City FC has the potential to be a dark horse this season and could repeat the success of previous expansion teams in the Carolinas who've claimed conference titles in their first season. 

With the conference dissolving its divisions from last season, due to offseason alignment adjustments, anyone has a chance to take the conference title. Though all eyes will be on reigning conference champions, Charlotte Eagles –– led by Carolinas Conference Coach of the Year Sam Hope.

The Eagles ended its championship season 9-1-0 while bosting seven clean sheets. However, the Eagles will face some adversity heading into its third season. For 2022, the club will have to adapt to roster changes as several notable players from last season aren't set to return, including  Skyler Prillaman ––the Eagles’ second top goal scorer who contributed four goals and five assists last season.

Other players not returning are All-Conference Southern Division team members Mackenzie Smith and goalkeeper Gabby Kouzelos. These players helped the Eagles to seven clean sheets and only conceded four goals in the regular season.

However, the Eagles have a huge returning player in leading scorer and assister Maddy Rhodes, who will be looking to continue her red-hot form from last season. Rhodes had a colossal impact in 2021, contributing five goals and a league-high nine assists. Rhodes was also named to the All-Conference Southern Division team.

Another team returning to the Carolinas Conference this season is the most established club in the conference, Oak City United. Returning for its sixth season in the league, Oak City United will look to improve on last season's performance and capitalize on successes such as the naming of several young players like Emily Moxley and Laurel Ansbrow to the 2021 All-conference team for the Northern Division.

Rounding out Carolinas Conference this season, Bluffton Rush FC returns for its fourth season after not competing in the 2021 season. While the Charlotte Eagles have been the reigning champions for the past two seasons, this conference is fair game for any of the five teams.