Final Four Profile: Atlanta hoping to get gorilla off their backs

A look at Atlanta Silverbacks

The Atlanta Silverbacks are a model of consistency. Making their W-League debut in 2005, the Silverbacks have collected every Atlantic Division title since 2007. Atlanta has reached the W-League Championship three times and is hoping to make this year’s trip their best yet.

The Silverbacks will face the Western Conference champion Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the first semifinal tonight at the 2011 W-League Championship Presented by Umbro. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. PT at Starfire Stadium in Seattle.

Atlanta’s track record of success is engrained in its club culture. Silverbacks General Manager Laura Fedrigo-Chevalier has been the consistent tie at the club and has helped foster that culture through the years.

“Our first year we really focused on establishing the culture of the program, including the expectations for the players and coaches on and off the field, the overall professionalism and commitment to the team,” Fedrigo-Chevalier said. “This has enabled us to have some consistency year to year even if there are changes to the roster or coaching staff. Everyone comes in with the same expectations and requirements so there are no surprises.”

The Silverbacks’ high expectations of making the W-League Championship again did not change this season after finishing third at last year’s final. This year the Silverbacks only dropped one match en route to another division crown and two playoff wins on the road in Charlotte. Once the task was done in Charlotte, Atlanta’s attention shifted to Vancouver and their semifinal matchup.

“We knew last week that if we advanced we would face Santa Clarita or Vancouver and it is tough to say which team we would be better matched against,” Silverbacks Head Coach Chris Adams said. “Finding out Sunday night it was Vancouver brought a mix of emotions because we have seen them play over the years and so to some degree we know what to expect. That being said, they are consistently one of the strongest teams in the league and we know we have our work cut out for us.”

The Whitecaps and their excellent pedigree will certainly be no easy task, but Atlanta’s performance on the field during the 2011 season has demonstrated they are no push over. The Silverbacks only conceded five goals all season and their offense is loaded with a variety of potent attackers such as 2011 All-League midfielder Megan Tomlinson and Player of the Week selection Sooz Dennis. With their talented lineup, Adams knows the Silverbacks will be ready for the Whitecaps.

“We as a team will plan to get into town, do our best to get settled, train the day before and do our best to really put all of our focus into coming out and playing well and winning the semifinal.”

The W-League Championship ‘Final Four’ in Tukwila, Washington begins this Friday, July 29, as the Whitecaps FC women face Atlanta Silverbacks in the W-League semifinals. Should Whitecaps FC win on Friday, they will face the winner of the other semifinal between the host Seattle Sounders women and the undefeated Ottawa Fury in the W-League Championship Final on Sunday, July 31, with kickoff set for 4 p.m. PT. Sunday’s Championship Final will be shown on tape-delay on Fox Sports World Canada on Monday, August 1. Stay tuned for all the latest news on whitecapsfc.com or follow at facebook.com/whitecapsfc or twitter.com/whitecapsfc.

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