Vancouver Island FC women's soccer squad debuts at Westhills Stadium this weekend

Women’s soccer is in the spotlight with the 2019 World Cup raging in fields across France.

The growth of the game in North America is evident at the club level, too. The Women’s Premier Soccer League is the largest female league in the world and in its 23rd season, with more than 100 teams.

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Expansion club Vancouver Island FC plays its first two WPSL home games in franchise history this weekend, beginning Saturday at 5 p.m. against the Westside Timbers (1-2) of Oregon and Sunday at 4 p.m. against OSA XF (1-2) of Seattle. Both games are at Westhills Stadium.

Vancouver Island FC (2-2 and tied for fourth place in the West Region Northwest Conference) has created a stir in its inaugural season by upsetting the defending WPSL-champion Seattle Sounders (4-1) on the road last month.

Former pro and University of Victoria Vikes great Liz Gregg scored the winning goal for the 2-1 victory. It was the first loss since 2017 for the Sounders.

The WPSL features NCAA and U Sports players, senior post-university club players and some graduating high school players.

It is the next league below the pro National Women’s Soccer League and provides continuing player development for top players in university, collegiate or club soccer through the summer.

Players who have come out of the WPSL include Olympic and World Cup performers Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach, Julie Foudy, Megan Rapinoe and Brandi Chastain of the U.S., Sissi of Brazil, Nozumi Yamago of Japan and Karen Bardsley of England.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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