By Vince Zafra
The Oly Town Artesians FC (football club) Women has confirmed the signing of Chris Wells as its new head coach last New Year’s Eve ahead of Oly Town’s upcoming debut in the USL W League in the 2023 season.
Fresh from its historic championship run in the 2022 Northwest Premier League (NWPL), Oly Town FC will move upto the USL W (United States Women’s) League as part of its league expansion in the west which includes five clubs in the Northwest Division where the Artesians will compete. Part for the preparations for this historic maiden season was the hiring of Wells as the new gaffer.
“With the transition to USL and the women’s team having a strong showing in their inaugural NWPL year, I am excited to join the club and hopefully help continue building on the foundation the previous team and staff built last year” said Wells.
Wells will bring his extensive experience and achievements in the women’s game, which includes leading the Seattle Stars FC to back-to-back NWPL Championships in 2017 and 2018 and two NWPL Coach of the Year plaudits in 2016 and 2017. He was also part of the coaching staff of Reign FC from 2014 to 2016, which competed at the professional level in National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).
Oly Town FC, although relatively new to women’s soccer scene, has become a respected force to watch out since its inception in 2021.
After being undefeated on five friendly matches in their first year, the Artesians, led by local captain and Evergreen State College alumna Delaney Smith, took the leap of faith and competed in the semi-professional Northwest Premier League (NWPL) in the summer of 2022.
Although it finished as #2 seed in the preliminary round robin partly thanks to club top scorer and West Virginia University alumna Kaitley Utley, the Artesians battled out to the championship round to clinch Oly Town’s first-ever championship in any league, upsetting the top-seed Capital FC in a final that went through a nervy penalty shootout which featured trophy-winning spot kick saves from goalkeeper Olivia Brock.
Along with the hiring of Wells came the reinforcement in the Oly Town FC technical staff, with the re-hiring of former Oly Town FC Women coach Rachel Ross as USL W League Assistant Coach, and the addition of Ozer Kocdemir as USL League 2 Assistant Coach under the supervision of Liviu Bird.
Ross was not a new face in the Artesians’ drawing board as she managed the Women Artesians during its debut year in 2021, leading it to an impressive 4-0-1 (win-loss-draw) record. Kocdemir, originally hailing from Sweden, will also bring to the USL2 Artesians squad his experience including a 3A Coach of the Year plaudits from his successful stint at Peninsula High School Boys Soccer Club.
To kickoff this year’s preparations of Oly Town FC in the men’s and women’s leagues, the newly hired members of the coaching staff will spearhead this year’s first round of trials for aspiring Artesians this January 8, 2023, at the Regional Athletic Complex in Lacey.
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