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USF players make impact in W-League

The Tampa Bay Hellenic of the United Soccer Leagues W-League was founded two years ago to offer top female players a chance to play competitive soccer in the summer.

South Florida women’s soccer players Mallori Lofton-Malachi, Angelique Waller, Chelsea Klotz and Molly Stack are taking full advantage of the opportunity.

Lofton-Malachi, USF’s goaltender, played for the Hellenic in its 2008 inaugural season. She said the W-League is great practice for the fall.

“It’s always fun to play in the summer,” she said. “The games are not as stressful and I’m having a blast playing with my friends and gaining a great deal of experience playing with older and very talented players.”

Lofton-Malachi, a Philadelphia native, was named to the W-League Team of the Week for her seven-save effort against Charlotte. She has made 17 savesand allowed one goal in 180 minutes this summer.

Along with Lofton-Malachi, Klotz and Waller have seen a substantial amount of playing time this season for the Hellenic (2-1-1).

Klotz, a sophomore, has created scoring opportunities by taking four shots on goal in 118 minutes at the forward position. Waller has played 323 minutes this summer, but Stack, entering her sophomore season, has yet to see action, as she is recovering from a leg injury.

USF coach Denise Schilte-Brown said she’s proud that some of her players are with the Hellenic.

“They are all awesome girls and great advocates of the University,” she said. “They are tremendous assets to our team and I’m really excited to see them out there.”

Schilte-Brown said that the girls’ experiences will help the Bulls improve on last season’s 7-8-3 record.

“Any time you play with other talented players, you stay connected to the game and improve,” she said.  “Choosing to use the time to stay sharp will greatly benefit our team.”

Hellenic coach George Fotopoulos said he enjoys having some of the USF players on his summer team in a league he feels is one of the best in the world.

“All four girls bring a high level of character and leadership to our team,” he said. “Each one is different and each brings a lot to the table — Waller is a tenacious and athletic defender that has done very well, and Klotz is a sound forward.”

Fotopoulos said Lofton-Malachi will have a career in soccer after her days with the Hellenic and the Bulls.

“(Lofton-Malachi) is a very special goalkeeper,” he said. “She possesses a great deal of athleticism and leadership qualities.”

Lofton-Malachi, however, said she is focused on finishing this season with the Hellenic and leading the Bulls to a Big East title in the fall. USF failed to qualify for last year’s Big East tournament.

“Our goal this season is to win the Big East championship,” she said. “Last year, we watched the men’s soccer team and the men’s tennis team win their conference tournaments and that is what we want. We definitely have the talent and the character to win the Big East.”