WNY FLASH TIMELINE
The Sahlen Family founded the Flash in 2008 - then known as the Buffalo Flash.
The Buffalo Flash made its first competitive appearance in 2009 as a member of the W-League and made the playoffs in the first year of existence.
In just its second season, the Flash became W-League Champions, defeating the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1 at Harry Welch Stadium in Santa Clarita, California. With the team's stellar season, head coach Aaran Lines was named FieldTurf Coach of the Year. The undefeated season was led by Canadian International Kelly Parker who was named league VP and Veronica Bouquet who was named W-League Championship MVP. Bouquet would later go on to become the WPS 2011 MVP with the Philadelphia Independence after starting her American career with the Flash.
After its first title a year before, the Flash joined Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) as an expansion team. With the league change, the team became the Western New York Flash and moved its home pitch to Rochester, NY at the newly named Sahlen’s Stadium. With its first pick in the 2011 WPS Draft, the Flash selected Alex Morgan and later signed 2010 WPS MVP and WPS Golden Boot winner Marta and Canadian star Christine Sinclair. After finishing the year 13-2-3, the Flash won the regular season title and hosted the 2011 WPS Championship. The Flash became back-to-back champions in that game, defeating the Philadelphia Independence (coached by Paul Riley, head coach of the Flash in 2016) in penalty kicks in front of a WPS record 10,461 fans.
Marta won the Golden Boot as the league’s top scorer, while Ashlyn Harris was named US Coast Guard Goalkeeper of the Year and Whitney Engen was honored as the WPS Defender of the Year. Lines earned his second-consecutive FieldTurf Coach of the Year honor and the 2011 Flash squad was named FieldTurf WPS Team of the Year.
After the WPS suspended operations, the Flash joined the WPSL-Elite in 2012 and continued its winning ways. The team won its third league title (all in different leagues) with another penalty kick decision. After finishing the regular season 9-3-2, the Flash earned the second seed in the WPSL-E playoffs and went on to defeat the Chicago Red Stars 1-1 (4-2 PKs).
In November of 2012, the Western New York Flash was selected as one of eight clubs for the then-unnamed women’s professional soccer league. That league would become the National Women’s Soccer League, otherwise known as the NWSL.
In the club's first season in the NWSL with home town favorite and US national team player Abby Wambach on the roster, Aaran Lines lead the Flash to the Regular Season Championship and landed the Number 1 seed heading into the playoffs. After beating No. 4 Sky Blue FC 2-0 in the semifinals, the Flash hosted No. 3 Portland Thorns FC at Sahlen's Stadium for the league title on August 31, 2013. In that game, in front of a season-high 9,129 fans, the Flash finished as runner-up after falling 2-0 to the Thorns.
The Flash, who did not reach the top of the table until the final day of the regular season, were undefeated at home for 11-straight games. The club was only defeated in its home opener on April 27 and did not fall again until the NWSL Championship on August 31.
As a club, the Flash set numerous league records, ranking atop the NWSL in goals scored (36), goals conceded (30) and goals against average (.909). Forward Abby Wambach and defender Brittany Taylor were honored on the NWSL Best XI, while goalkeeper Adrianna Franch earned Second XI commendations.
In its second season in the NWSL, the Flash failed to reach the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Despite a seventh place finish, the team had many high points, including a 5-0 shutout of Portland Thorns FC on June 7. At the time, it was the largest margin of defeat in NWSL history and also set the league record for largest win margin by a road team.
Midfielder Carli Lloyd was named to the Second XI after posting eight goals and five assists.
The Flash finished its third NWSL season with a record of 6-5-9, missing the playoffs with the youngest team in the NWSL. The rebuilding offseason and revamped roster saw them field 12 rookies including the 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th picks in the NWSL draft. Midfielder Sam Mewis managed to rank fourth in the league in shots (55) and sixth in shots on goal (27), while goalkeeper Chantel Jones was fourth in the league in saves (60) in 13 matches.
The Flash completed its fourth NWSL season with a record of 9-6-5. The season ended with the Flash's first finals appearance since the 2013 season and the franchise's first NWSL championship victory. It was also the final season of NWSL franchise's existence in Rochester, New York, or as the Western New York Flash, after being purchased by the North Carolina FC. Their move to Cary, North Carolina had the team rebranded as the North Carolina Courage for January 2017.
2016/17 Academy - In June 2016 the WNY Flash Academy hired Rob Ferguson as Director of Coaching to develop our young, but quickly expanding youth program in to one of the top player development programs in the United States. The WNY Flash Academy began its inaugural season in the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) which saw the WNY Flash 03G finish the season in the nations top 16 teams. Ten WNY Flash players were invited to US Soccer National Training Centers during the 2016/17 season and twenty two players graduated on to college teams from our 99/00G ECNL team, including commits to Florida State, Ohio State, Harvard, Old Dominion, SUNY Buffalo and Duquesne.
2017/18 Academy - The WNY Flash Academy announced its commitment to develop its boys program in line with its girls program, expanding it from the four youngest age groups to all U9 to U18 age groups. 2017/18 tryouts saw growth of the club in all directions with the creation of multiple strong and deep second teams and the strengthening of all ECNL teams, on top of forming a boys team in every age group.
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The Flash train out of Sahlen’s indoor soccer facility, Sahlen Sports Park, in Elma, N.Y. The Flash colors are red, yellow and black, to represent the Sahlen entities: Sahlen Packing Co., Sahlen Sports Park, and Team Sahlen racing team.