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National Women's Soccer League


October 9, 2016
Flash players tip their hats to coach Paul Riley

HOUSTON -- After the dust had settled at BBVA Stadium Sunday night, Western New York Flash players gave head coach Paul Riley plenty of credit for their National Women's Soccer League championship side.

Riley, who lives in Bay Shore, N.Y., took over the coaching reins only 57 days prior to the Flash's season-opener.

He took a young team and turned them into champions. Western New York came back twice to tie the game at 2-2 deep into stoppage time in the second extratime before prevailing in a shootout, 3-2, over the Washington Spirit.

"As soon as Paul came in, he's such a player's coach and was really just all for us," defender Abby Dahlkemper said. "He listened to us and he fixed the things that we needed to fix in order to be in this situation. I just think even off the field, the players were together and we love each other and you can just tell the union off the field translates straight on it and we believe in each other."

Midfielder Sam Mewis credited Riley with preparing the team with the proper mentally.

"None of us really expected this until a certain point in the season where Paul just cultivated this mentality like, 'We're the underdog. It is us against the world. If you guys believe it, there's no one that can stop you,' " she said. "Paul - I cannot say enough good things about him - we could not have done this without him. I have no doubt. I am eternally so grateful to him for giving us this experience and giving all of these young players this place to come and make this family and I'll never forget this team. This is one of the most special things that has ever happened to me."

Riley? He just deflected the credit back to his team.

"It just feels like it encompasses the entire season," he said. "It's been a great process. A great journey and we just kept plugging along. Every time teams wrote us off we came back, and every time you wrote us off we came back. It's just good. It's just an amazing feeling for the troops. I think they've been very loose all week and very calm, which is unusual for a very young team.

“We didn't play our best performance because I think they're young. I think the legs got heavy real early in the game, and they weren't able to play better. But I think having tasted it, hopefully they'll want more. Hats off to them. They were awesome."

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