Major League Soccer
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NWSL final just the beginning

August 29, 2013

Kari Seitz has been assigned as the referee for the inaugural NWSL championship match between Western New York Flash and Portland Thorns.

The experienced Seitz will be assisted at the Sahlen's Stadium on Saturday August 31st by Veronica Perez and Kyle Atkins, while Margaret Domka has been assigned as the Fourth Official.

The Professional Referee Organization's Women's Coach and NWSL Assignor, Sandra Serafini, told “It’s been an incredible season. So many of the officials have stepped up and shown their professionalism both on and off the field, and we’ve been very pleased with the work of this final crew.  

“We’ve emphasized all season that every decision counts, and the fact that three post-season teams finished with an equal number of points is a testament to that philosophy as well as to the competitiveness of the league.  

“There is a high level of competitiveness amongst the officials as well, which drives them to continually aim higher and put their best foot forward in every match. It’s truly an honor for PRO to oversee the officials in this inaugural NWSL final.”

The landmark final, which kicks off at 8:00pm ET, will be broadcast live on FoxSports2 and will bring the curtain down on the inaugural NWSL season, which has been action-packed from start to finish.

It's a soccer season that has brought many new challenges for Serafini, who is responsible for ensuring a good standard of refereeing is reached throughout, and it was the first under the PRO umbrella. The former FIFA referee believes the introduction of PRO has added cohesion to the operation.

"I have a lot of colleagues attend tournaments to act as my eyes and focus on the women officials. I also have a review committee at the NWSL to ensure I’m not just a lone voice.

"It’s certainly nice to have varying opinions and people with a different perspective on things. I’m very lucky in my role to have such good people surrounding me.

"Following the introduction of PRO, all the professional leagues are under one umbrella with one philosophy, which is a positive philosophy and one of encouragement while continually striving for excellence.

"It’s also taken our coaching models to the next step. I think it has just made the operation a lot more consistent."

Looking into the future, Serafini is hopeful of driving improvement throughout the female ranks with the help of her team at PRO.

It's that improvement that will allow the current crop of female officials to further their careers and aim for the top level, and Serafini is certainly an example to follow with her colorful experiences in the industry there for all to see.

"With the women’s fitness plans there’s always a particular focus on core work and lower body strength, to get them to be able to keep up with the pace of the men’s and international women’s games. Everybody’s ambition is to go to NWSL, MLS or FIFA, and a big part of my responsibility is to coach them on those paths.

"I’m pleased with how far we’ve come, but I always look at the horizon and see where we could be. There’s always work to be done, we always want to be moving forward.

"I have a list of things I would like to do but it takes resources, staff and personnel - it also takes time - but one thing’s for sure, we’re going forward with this.”

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