THINK TANK FC: Breakthrough year for Seattle Stars FC Men and Women

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Think Tank FC talks about running adult soccer clubs at the elite / semi-pro level in the state of Washington and the Northwest. David Falk is the Media Director for the Evergreen Premier League, Western Indoor Soccer League and Northwest Premier League. He founded soccer news website in 2012.

Seattle Stars FC won the Evergreen Premier League in 2017. In three previous seasons in the statewide competition the Stars had never had a winning record. (Stars photo)

THINKTANK-untitled (1)Seattle Stars Football Club saw growth in pretty much every area you can measure in 2017. The Evergreen Premier League Stars Men won the trophy. This is a side that finished 7th, 7th and 6th in their three previous seasons. The Northwest Premier League Stars Women went from 5th place in 2016 to a 10-2-0 record and hosting the league Final this year. Stars Founder Margarito Avila gave a simple answer as to why everything is a brighter shade of green for the Stars these days: People.

Clubs are a reflection of the people they attract and retain, and in 2017 the Stars got big boosts from new General Manager Steven Lynn and new Women’s Head Coach Chris Wells. Once the new people arrive – a club set in its ways might dampen their enthusiasm for change – but to the credit of the Stars long-timers they welcomed it. It paid off in a huge way.

“Steven brought in structure and accountability,” says Avila. “Chris surprised us with the players he was able to bring to the Stars Women all season long.”

SeattleStarsFCLogo (1)The clubs were dynamite on the pitch but the bigger picture is that they increased buy-in from players, coaches and fans. (See photos above.)

The Stars got a new crest, placed ads in local newspapers, rented a tour bus for their trip to Spokane, got new kits and gear, had giant flags featuring their crest made, tripled their coverage on social media, and bolstered the talent level on both the Men’s and Women’s sides. All in a single season.

NWPL Primary CrestIf adversity shows what kind of people a club has – then 2017 was a big winner for the Stars in that department as well. The club handled the death of Haylei Hughes in a professional, touching manner. The NWPL Final was an admirable balance of honoring the fallen and moving forward to cap off a season.

eplwa-600-cropPeople. Sure, the Stars got a new influx of cash to get their gear. But it was people, allowed to do their thing, that have changed the direction of the club. The Men’s side under Head Coach Omar Lara is now getting players from the University of Washington. The connection with the Huskies makes the future look very promising. The NWPL Stars Women under Chris Wells were able to draw talent from higher levels to mix in with local adult players. It made a huge difference.

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Youth soccer clubs can sell themselves on their players – cute, growing, full of promise. But what happens when adult clubs reach out for financial backing? You’d better have your act together…

Organize your club’s efforts to get sponsorships. Put a single “go-getter” in charge and let them build a network within the club to reach  out to the business community.

Come up with a well-written sponsorship letter.

Create “packages” for sponsorship for businesses and supporters.

Go out of your way to ‘over-deliver’ to your sponsors

Document what your relationship entails

Use social media

A lot of work goes in to getting a sponsor. Do just as much work, or more – in keeping them. The message I  keep hearing over and  over again is to be careful not to ‘over promise’ or ‘over sell.’ It is far better to present your club as it it – with realistic expectations for sponsors – and then to exceed those expectations.

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Promotion / Relegation goes mainstream

That was some week!

The Promotion / Relegation issue hit the mainstream media with a suit filed jointly by an NASL and an NPSL club.   It was news around the world. The development energized some to organize further. #OpenSoccer is a popular hashtag on Twitter. This website is seeing increased traffic. This post was just  ahead of the news and looks at what pro/rel could look like in the USA.



Seattle Stars get their 2017 Evergreen Premier League medals, trophy


TUKWILA, WA— Seattle Stars FC were awarded their 2017 Evergreen Premier League trophy and medals at Starfire Sports Stadium at half time of the Northwest Premier League Final on Sunday July 30.

EPLWA President Peter Ostrovsky and league VP of Competition and WSASA President Tim Busch present the Stars players and staff with championship medals and the Ruffneck Scarves EPLWA 2017 title trophy.

Photos: Stars get their silverware

Ostrovsky handed the trophy over to Tyler Bjork, who scored 14 goals during the season. Bjork brought it home to his mates, who raised it high in the air as the Stars celebrated their first league title.

EPLWA President Peter Ostrovsky with the 2017 Ruffneck Scarves EPLWA trophy.
Tyler Bjork (left) Carlos Betancourt (center) and Justin Soto (right) with their medals.




EPLWA Season comes to a close with blowout matches


The 2017 Evergreen Premier League season came to an end on Sunday July 30 with two lopsided wins for home sides. While league champions Seattle Stars FC were getting their trophy and medals at Starfire, Bellingham United and WPSS Shock were scoring a combined 13 goals.

Bellingham United 7-0 Yakima United

BELLINGHAM, WA— The day after the Hammers learned they could not catch the Seattle Stars at the top of the EPLWA table they went out and let Yakima United and the league know that they were more than worthy to have done so. The Hammers took a 7-0 win that ended their season on 32 points – which would historically be enough to win the league. Instead, BUFC now has the distinction of the best point total for a #2 finish in EPLWA history.

Match Gallery: by Jon Bergman

The goal scoring frenzy started with a penalty converted by Richard Henderson. He also went on to score his second demonstrating his accuracy curling the ball inches away from the opposing goalkeeper’s reach. The third goal came early in the second half by the header of Luke Olney kissing the inside of the post and then into the net. The fourth goal was from the hat trick hero, Richard Henderson, taking another penalty kick to put Bellingham up 4-0. The fifth goal was scored by Nick Cashmere coming in as sub in the second half earning the team a PK and a goal. The final two goals were scored by the super sub Taylor Allen his first season as a Hammer.


WPSS Shock 6-0 Oly Town Artesians

PUYALLUP, WA—The Washington Premier South Sound Shock finished 3rd in the table for the season and made noise that they are young and ready for more after a 6-0 thumping over the Oly Town Artesians at WPFC Fields on July 30.

Sunday’s game opened quickly with both teams going back and forth with many good chances, but it was South Sound that got the finishes. Tyler John scored on a corner kick from Isidro Prado-Huerta in the 15th minute to make it 1-0 and Brandon Madsen made it 2-0 in the 25th after a defensive mistake left him in great position in the box. The first half came to a close with the Artesians still within striking distance.

The second half opened the same, with plenty of Oly Town chances, but it was Madsen with his second goal of the day to make it 3-0 in the 59th minute. With the Artesians pressing on offense with nothing left to lose, the South Sound counterattack took advantage and scored three goals to close things out, two by JJ Schmeck and one by Aiden Genovese. South Sound improved to 7-5-2 with 23 points to take third place in the EPLWA.

The Artesians finished their first season in the EPLWA in sixth place, two places ahead of two-time league champion Spokane Shadow and three points ahead of Yakima United, and were in the hunt for third place all the way up until the 13th game. Surf Wodajo and JT Meyer finished the season tied for the club lead with three goals apiece and Gabriele Zaccagnini led the way with six assists. Goalkeeper JJ Olson posted two shutouts for the boys from Olympia.


Videos and Photos: An emotional 2017 NWPL Final


(From We don’t have much left to say about a week and a championship match that left pretty much everyone emotionally spent. We do want to share some videos and photos with you, and to say thank you to the teams and supporters for being here for us this week.

The Washington Timbers beat Seattle Stars FC 2-1 in a well-played, exciting match on Sunday July 30 2017 to take the league trophy. Read a brief recap with individual goal clips here.

See a goal scoring compilation in the video below.

The Northwest Premier League was thrust onto a larger audience when tragedy struck on championship week with the death of Seattle Stars player Haylei Hughes. KIRO 7 covered both the accident and our memorial on Sunday.

See the KIRO TV coverage in the videos below.

We put together our own video of the Haylei Hughes Memorial. See it below.

The Washington Timbers deserve to celebrate their first-season accomplishments. They did so in the video below.


We expect to have soccer action photos from the final to share soon. Here is a gallery of shots from the Seattle Stars focusing on the Haylei Hughes Memorial.


Seattle Stars win first Evergreen Premier League Title


RIDGEFIELD, WA— Seattle Stars FC scored a 4-0 win over Vancouver Victory FC early Saturday evening at Ridgefield Stadium to claim the 2017 Evergreen Premier League Title. It is the first EPLWA title for the Stars.

Stars forward Tyler Bjork got the match-winner in the 40th minute when he scored his 14th goal of the year. The all-time leading scorer in league history has now tied the league record for goals in a season. He also scored 14 in 2016.

The Stars added more as the match went on. Just two minutes after Bjork’s goal Alex Castillo made it 2-0 for Seattle. Vancouver nicked in an own goal midway through the second half to make it 3-0. Then in the 90th minute the Stars put a capper on their championship season with a fourth and final goal scored by Adama Kante.

Photo Gallery: Stars make club history in Ridgefield

Photo Gallery: Stars get their trophy and medals



The Stars, who  had never managed a winning record in three previously EPLWA seasons, ended their Championship campaign with a 10-1-3 record and 33 standings points. It’s the second highest points total in league history (Spokane 35 in 2015.)

On Sunday at 4:45 PM at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila the Stars Women will play for the Northwest Premier League title against the Washington Timbers. They will also be remembering teammate Haylei Hughes who died earlier this week. In a full day for the club, the EPLWA Champion Men are also expected to be at Starfire to be presented with their trophy and medals.




Tragedy strikes Seattle Stars Women ahead of Sunday’s NWPL Final

Seattle Stars FC of the Northwest Premier League met Thursday night and decided to go forward with Sunday’s NWPL league final after the tragic death of player Haylei Hughes.

The Stars will host the Washington Timbers on Sunday July 30 at 4:45 PM at Starfire Sports Complex.

They will do so while still reeling from the loss of their player. Hughes was lost in an accident on Wednesday night at Wallace Falls. Most-recently she had featured for the Stars in their 3-0 semifinal win over Fuerza FC at French Field in Kent on July 23rd.

Hughes was much-loved and admired in her home town of Las Vegas where she excelled at multiple sports. She is being remembered online as well for her competitive spirit, kindness and strength.

The NWPL released the following article:

Haylei Hughes (back row, first player on the right) with her Seattle Stars teammates last week in their playoff win over Fuerza FC.

BREMERTON, WA—Seattle Stars FC and the Northwest Premier League are in shock and mourning after the tragic death of player Haylei Hughes on Wednesday night. Haylei was with a group hiking at Wallace Falls in Snohomish County when reports say she fell into the water.

Haylei joined the Seattle Stars from Las Vegas, where she was a star athlete for Cimarron-Memorial High School. She was slated to be a key player with Highline Community College soccer in Des Moines this year in the NWAC.

Seattle Stars players were told of Haylei’s passing on Thursday night while at the same time in Las Vegas many of her friends were gathering to lend each other support. The Las Vegas Review-Journal posted this story.

Haylei Hughes (center) with Stars teammates during last week’s NWPL Semifinals win over Fuerza FC. (Rick Edelman)

Seattle Stars Women’s Head Coach Chris Wells recruited Haylei for his Highline Thunderbirds side. Wells said on Facebook:

2017_Stars_clear“Haylei was truly special in so many ways. Soccer, for sure. She loved the game more than anything and the game loved her back. She was well on the way to being the most special player I’ve ever seen at this level.”

Hughes concluded, “I’ve never been closer to a recruit in my 4 years as a college coach. She was a kid who you only wanted to help and do anything you can to help her be happy in life. Haylei will never be forgotten and always loved. She will be a part of me for the rest of my life, and for that, I am truly thankful and blessed.”

The Seattle Stars will host the Washington Timbers on Sunday July 30 at 4:45 PM at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, WA in the Northwest Premier League Championship Match. Seattle will dedicate their performance to the life and competitive spirit of Haylei Hughes.

Memories of Haylei’s life are currently being shared at the Twitter hashtag #RIPHaylei.

A Go Fund Me account has been established to assist Haylei’s family.

EPLWA: Bellingham knocking on the door, Seattle hoping to close it

The weekend results in the Evergreen Premier League both tightened and clarified the title race. You win the EPLWA by finishing top of the table, and right now that is where Seattle Stars sit with just one weekend to go. One point behind are the Hammers of Bellingham United. Both sides have one final match to play.


(Cover photo: Jeremiah Lee of Bellingham United (left) and Miles Sanchez (right) of Seattle Stars battled for the ball when the two sides played to a 1-1 draw earlier in July in Bellingham. Jon Bergman photo)

Seattle Stars (blue) played to a 0-0 draw on Saturday at French Field in Kent against Washington Premier South Sound (white.) (Quinn Width photo)

Last Weekend

On Saturday the Seattle Stars drew 0-0 with Washington Premier South Sound. That same day Bellingham United took a 3-1 win away at Vancouver Victory.

On Sunday the Hammers won their fourth straight with a 4-0 win at home over the Olympic Force.

Bellingham United has momentum after 4 straight wins has pushed them to within 1 point of the top of the EPLWA table. (Jon Bergman photo)

Final Weekend

Saturday July 29 at 5 PM at Ridgefield Stadium the Seattle Stars will play home side Vancouver Victory FC. Earlier in the season the Stars beat Vancouver 3-1 in Kent. Vancouver are the reigning EPLWA Champs and they will have a say in who wins it this year. A Seattle win clinches the trophy for the Stars. A Seattle draw or loss leaves the door open for Bellingham United to win it on Sunday July 30 against Yakima United at 3 PM at Civic Stadium in Bellingham. The Hammers beat the Hoppers earlier in Yakima, 4-2.


EPLWA Logo-07-600It’s not likely but remains possible that Seattle and Bellingham could end the season tied at 30 points each. If that happens then league tiebreakers will be used to declare a champion. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head wins. The season series ended 0-0-2 for both sides as they echanged 1-1 draws. This also negates the second tiebreaker, which is goal differential between tied teams. That stands at 2 each, or 0 differential for both sides. That brings us to tiebreaker three which is overall goals scored. Going in to the final weekend the Hammers have scored 33 goals to Seattle’s 32. See all of the tiebreakers here.

Click to enlarge below graphic.

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Washington Timbers top Spokane Shadow to advance to NWPL Final

Photo Jul 23, 6 07 30 AMSPOKANE, WA— (Shadow release) Despite an early goal, the Shadow Women’s First Team saw visiting Washington Timbers reply to even things up at halftime and go on to score three more in the second half to eliminate the defending Northwest Premier League champions out of the playoffs in the semifinals with a 4-1 victory.

cropped-nwpl-primary-crest1On a blustery, hot contest this evening at the Polo Grounds, the Shadow opened the scoring 14 minutes into the contest when left back Meaghan Bare worked her way up the left side and fired in from about 22 yards out.

The Shadow had several opportunities over the next 10 minutes to add to the lead, but would rue their close calls.

A few minutes after the first water break the Timbers evened matters at one each when a defensive error allowed Ellie Boon to gain possession in the left side with Ashlyn Juul out of goal. The striker took advantage of the opportunity to tally in the 29th.

Photo Jul 23, 6 22 33 AM
Maddison Maffeo (left center) is greeted after her free kick gave the Timbers a 2-1 lead.

Fourteen minutes into the second half a foul by Tiara Pajimola just outside the left side of the box allowed Maddison Maffeo to put the visitors in front on a 25 yard free kick that Juul got her hands on, but was unable to stop.

The Timbers grabbed control of the match on a nice goal in the 71st that was created by a run from Jesse Ray, who won a pair of tackles while driving forward up the middle of the pitch, angling out toward the right corner as she progressed. Once inside the final 15 she whipped a cross into the box that Rylee MacDonald ran onto and volleyed first-time out of the air around the penalty spot for the 3-1 lead.

With 10 minutes remaining Boon locked up the game with her second tally, again on a defensive mistake as she intercepted a goal kick and drove to goal under some defensive pressure. Her first attempt was denied by Juul, but she was able to get her foot to it again and nudge it with enough pace to put it over the line.

Photo Jul 23, 6 07 16 AM

Spokane had several other chances in the first half, but again missed the mark, including one in stoppage time from Bare that was a low, swerving shot from about 25 yards on the left side that looked bound for the lower left corner only to swing wide at the last moment.

The third-seeded Washington Timbers advance to the NWPL Championship Game next week and will travel to play the regular season champion Seattle Stars, who were 3-0 winners Saturday night in Kent against fourth-seeded Fuerza FC.

Washington Timbers 4-1 Spokane Shadow WFT
SPO: Meaghan Bare 14
WAT: Ellie Boon 29
WAT: Maddison Maffeo 59
WAT: Rylee MacDonald (Jesse Ray) 71
WAT: Ellie Boon 80

Photo Jul 23, 6 36 59 AM
The Timbers’ Jessie Ray (left) and Rylee MacDonald (middle) combined for a goal to make it 3-1 in their favor in the 71st minute on Sunday in Spokane.

(Spokane Shadow photos)

Seattle Stars advance to host NWPL Final


KENT, WA—The Seattle Stars will host the 2017 Northwest Premier League Final after they shut out Fuerza FC 3-0 on Saturday July 22 at French Field in Kent.

Seattle Stars FC led the NWPL most of the season and will host the league final next weekend against either the Spokane Shadow or Washington Timbers. (Facebook)

cropped-nwpl-primary-crest1Seattle took the lead in the 10th minute on a goal from Sunshine Soriano. It was doubled in the 41st minute when a penalty kick was converted by Lexi Krieger (see video above.) Seattle made sure of the result with a late goal in the 89th minute from Arica Slawson. Ashley Routh secured the shut out for the Stars in goal.

Now Seattle awaits the outcome of tomorrow’s match in Spokane between the Shadow and the Washington Timbers (Preview). The winner of that semifinal will travel to Seattle to face the Stars in the first-ever NWPL Playoffs Final the weekend of July 29-30.

Match Gallery: by Rick Edelman

Fuerza FC (Marysville, WA) had a memorable season that included a playoff win and advancing to the NWPL semifinals. (Facebook)

EPLWA: Seattle Stars sweep weekend, now 4 points from first league title

(Click to enlarge)


Seattle Stars FC got a first half goal from Miles Sanchez on Sunday in Poulsbo (see video below) to edge the Olympic Force 1-0. Seattle is now 9-1-2 on the season with 29 standings points. They lead second place Bellingham United by 6 points, but the Hammers have a match in hand. Click the graphic above to enlarge and see the current table, matches remaining, and magic numbers to winning the EPLWA for 2017.

On Saturday Seattle topped Oly Town 2-0 while Bellingham edged Spokane 3-2.

See all scores, recaps and stats at

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