The Women’s Football Alliance will celebrate its inaugural season Saturday night at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The third annual event, founded by former University of Virginia assistant coach and pro player-turned-teacher Emma Hayes, will be broadcast live on ESPN.
The 21-game schedule features nine of the 12 teams represented in the WFCA Classic against the other seven participating teams. Top-ranked Mary Washington College (9-0) faces No. 8 Shenandoah (8-1) in the opener. Top-ranked Hampden-Sydney (8-1) will face No. 2 Maryland (9-0), and No. 3 Judson (8-1) will face No. 7 Wake Forest (7-2).
In addition to Mary Washington and Shenandoah, Hampden-Sydney and Judson are both Div. III institutions. Maryland is a Div. I school. The other five teams participating in the match-up are the University of North Carolina-Charlotte (5-2), ranked No. 7 by USA Today, South Carolina State (5-2), William & Mary (4-3), Bethune-Cookman (5-3) and Wagner (4-4).
Hayes, a catcher on Virginia’s 1975 Women’s College World Series-winning team, is the only former NCAA national champion in the group of women she will lead into battle Saturday night. The rest of the women she chooses to mentor are from Div. I and Div. II programs.
This year’s WFCA Classic will include four games featuring the teams selected at the end of the nine-team WFCA Premier Division conference. Seven of the eight coaches at the head of the conference’s slate were All-Americans on their way to a winning season or a WCC title.
The 24-hour event ends with the championship game Saturday at 3 p.m. The winning team will receive $15,000 while the runner-up will receive $12,000.
The league and its 17 women coaches will divide an estimated $175,000 this season. It will continue to play four games annually.