All Scores

After PHF sale, veteran stars request ‘unified’ messaging from players

PHF players celebrate during the 2023 All-Star showcase in January. (Chris Tanouye/Getty Images)

Last Thursday, PHF players and staff learned that assets of their league had been acquired by the Mark Walter Group ahead of the launch of a new professional women’s hockey league in January 2024. While the PHF portrayed the news as good for the future of women’s hockey, players — whose contracts for the upcoming season are now void — understandably had some questions.

“I think people are having a lot of different, conflicting feelings simultaneously. I think there’s some shock, some anger, some sadness, as well as some hope and optimism and excitement,” PHF Players’ Association (PHFPA) executive director Nicole Corriero told Just Women’s Sports in a phone interview.

Corriero, who got a heads up about the sale from commissioner Reagan Carey last Tuesday, said the players’ association has had internal discussions since the announcement about how to best support players during the transition period.

“The drastic changes that people are going to be having to make in terms of their lifestyle, financial decisions, things like that — along with the uncertainty that’s coupled with it — is really daunting and really challenging,” she said.

Corriero, a former three-time NCAA All-American at Harvard, has led the PHFPA for just over a year. She said the players’ association is committed to ensuring that anyone affected by the sale has an outlet for communication.

“I would say my biggest concerns are the people who were new signees, whether they’re coming out of college or people that are coming overseas,” Corriero said.

“It’s understandable that not everybody is going to get their pom-poms out and be excited, even if there is a lot of positivity, a lot of hope and a lot of optimism for the future.”

While the PHF Players’ Association has not posted anything on its social media channels, on Sunday a group of 11 PHF players representing all seven teams issued a public statement that expressed a message of optimism entering this new era of women’s hockey.

“We are hugely excited to see a unified league that will house all of the best athletes that hockey has to offer and aim to build the strongest league that can stand the test of time,” they wrote.

The players who signed the letter — Jillian Dempsey, Allie Thunstrom, Dominique Kremer, Kacey Bellamy, Kennedy Marchment, Madison Packer, Kaleigh Fratkin, Katerina Mrazova, Sydney Brodt, Ann-Sophie Bettez and Shiann Darkangelo — are among the PHF/NWHL’s most senior veterans.

They are also among the league’s most talented players; 10 of the 11 were named All-Stars in 2023 and all are expected to contend for a spot in the new league. The only non All-Star in the group, Kacey Bellamy, served as PHF scout and player liaison during the 2022-23 season. In April, she announced she was coming out of retirement to sign with the Connecticut Whale.

While some members of the player leadership committee also serve as players’ association representatives, the two groups are separate.

According to Corriero, the players in the leadership committee are “players that the now dissolved league contacted or communicated with to discuss some of the initial news because they can be an initial support system.”

Corriero added: “The leadership committee is not intended to replace the Players’ Association. It has a somewhat different objective in terms of what it’s trying to promote and help to communicate on behalf of the players. It is a separate entity in that it was kind of created in conjunction with the league as a conduit for communication and helping with the transition.”

In a message reviewed by Just Women’s Sports, the player leadership committee asks players to forward any media inquiries or communications regarding the PWHPA, PHF or the new league to a committee email address “until further notice” to ensure “PHF players are unified and consistent with our message across all communication channels.”

Asked how this committee’s goals and mission differ from those of the players’ association, Fratkin wrote: “The Player Leadership Committee and the PHFPA are complementary resources for players who played in the PHF. This is not a faction with separate goals. Our purpose is to be an added liaison for players during this transition.”

The player leadership committee did not respond to a question about how its members were selected. The league also did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding its role in assembling and/or selecting members for the player leadership committee.

Sofia Huerta signs contract extension with Seattle through 2027

(Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports)

Former Oregon soccer players detail instances of verbal abuse from former USWNT assistant

(Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard via Imagn Content Services)

Members of the Oregon women’s soccer team are saying they received harsh treatment and even verbal abuse from head coach and former USWNT assistant Graeme Abel. 

During the 2023 season, the team had zero wins, and upon its conclusion a total of 12 of the team’s 29 players departed the team. Former players told The Oregonian that Abel would verbally attack them, threaten to kick them off the team and at times would even throw objects.

"When I’d make a mistake at practice, it felt like he made it a job to embarrass you to the point where you just wanted to walk off the field,” one player said. “He’d stop the practice – and I know it’s college soccer, it’s very competitive — but he’d stop practice and just keep going nonstop on this one thing."

In total, the Oregonian spoke with 14 former players – including 12 who agreed to be interviewed in depth. All said that they experienced verbal abuse. Six of the players were among those who transferred following the season. 

One instance of Abel’s tirades included him throwing a water bottle that narrowly missed players’ heads. 

“He kicked all of our staff out of the locker room, kicked a trash can, threw a white board, sat on the trash can and started screaming,” one player recounted. “He wanted us to tell him what we thought went wrong in the game. Me and another player spoke up, and he said, ‘You’re just (expletive) wrong.’ And that if we didn’t want to be in this program, we could all quit, and he’d sign our release paperwork tomorrow.”

While Abel was not made available for an interview, he did say in a statement that “at no point have I used threatening statements or financial repercussions as a part of coaching.”

Instances of emotional distress stemming from Abel’s alleged harsh treatment date back to 2021 – his first full year leading the team following an abbreviated 2020 campaign.

Other former players contacted by The Oregonian detailed positive overall experiences, and described his style as “normal coaching.”

Others, like USWNT players Becky Sauerbrunn and Lindsey Horan, did not respond to requests for comment, although Sauerbrunn wrote in 2019 that she had a “great relationship” with Abel. 

Still, multiple players interviewed had similar stories, with one saying that girls would be “crying in the locker room” after practice because of what he would tell players. Attempts to speak with the administration about his behavior, players say, was “discouraging.”

“His office is like the scariest place,” one player said. “You’d have to sit there while he’d belittle you and say all these nasty things, and gaslight you into believing you’re not good enough. ... Our team fell apart because of the environment he created. We were just trying to get through the day. There was no way we could focus on soccer.”

Multiple players said they experienced suicidal ideation while playing at Oregon. In part of his statement, Abel wrote that “at no time do we put our student-athletes in any danger.”

Abel is currently in his fifth and final year of his contract at Oregon.

Gotham FC unveil Championship rings ahead of banner reveal

Gotham FC players celebrate Lynn Williams' goal in the first half of the 2023 NWSL Championship. (Ray Acevedo/USA TODAY Sports)

Gotham FC has unveiled their 2023 NWSL championship rings — and safe to say, they deliver.

The reveal has led to a little bit of trash talk ahead of the team’s matchup with Kansas City this weekend, as both teams have NFL owners. While the Current are co-owned by Patrick and Brittany Mahomes, former Giants quarterback Eli Manning is a co-owner of Gotham. 

On Wednesday, Manning took to Sportscenter to give Mahomes a bit of a hard time.

“He may have one more Super Bowl ring than me, but he does not have a NWSL championship ring like I do,” Manning joked.

“Come Sunday night at Red Bull Arena, April 14th, we’re dropping the banner on Kansas City. We got the ring ceremony, the players get their rings and their championship afterwards. This is it, I’ve got something to talk a little trash to him about because I can’t do it about football anymore, I gotta find something else.”

The appearance came after Manning posted to social media, inviting Mahomes to “come see [the championship ring] up close this Sunday.”

Mahomes responded in kind, writing that “we’ll see y’all Sunday!”

Gotham takes on current league-leaders Kansas City on Sunday at 6pm ET. The game is available on NWSL+.

Oregon State hit by transfer portal again as Raegan Beers departs

ALBANY, NEW YORK - MARCH 31: Raegan Beers #15 of the Oregon State Beavers shoots a free throw during the first half against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at MVP Arena on March 31, 2024 in Albany, New York. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Oregon State leading scorer and rebounder Raegan Beers announced on Thursday that she is entering the transfer portal. 

"Thank you for all of your endless love and support these past two years," she posted on social media. "I will never forget my time at OSU and I am thankful for the opportunity I had to meet and play with incredible people. My journey as a Beav was a special one and I am grateful for my teammates, coaches, fans, and friends who have changed my life throughout my time here."

A sophomore forward, Beers is a two-time All-Pac-12 selection who averaged 17.5 points per game last season while shooting 66.4 percent from the field. She also added 10.3 rebounds en route to earning third-team All-American honors from the AP. 

She’s the fourth Oregon State starter – and seventh player overall – to hit the portal this offseason. She joins Talia von Oelhoggen and Timea Gardiner in the transfer portal, as well as starting freshman Donovyn Hunter. 

Beers and Gardiner were both top-10 recruits in ESPN rankings coming out of high school. 

With the dissolution of the Pac-12, the program will join the WCC next season and no longer be a part of the Power 5.

Conference realignment is hitting the team hard, with coach Scott Rueck saying during the tournament that he knew it could seriously affect his team moving forward. 

"That's reality," Rueck said. "I can't control that, other than just keep doing what I'm doing. I think the opportunity within that for a leader provides a discipline that you'd better be on your A-game all the time. You'd better take care of people, and you'd better provide a great experience. That's the approach going forward and what happens, happens. We'll find a way."

Start your morning off right with Just Women’s Sports’ free, 5x-a-week newsletter.