Competing in the Best League in the Country - the ECNL Midwest Intra-Conference Event

From October 12-14, the best 12 girls clubs in the Midwest met in Waukegan, IL for the second and final cross-divisional ECNL Midwest Intra-Conference Event.  With 4 wins and 2 ties over 12 games, FC Wisconsin Eclipse made a statement about the bright future of Wisconsin's aspiring players in the ECNL. 

From October 12-14, the best 12 girls clubs in the Midwest met in Waukegan, IL for the second and final cross-divisional ECNL Midwest Intra-Conference Event.  At each of these 2 events, the 6 ECNL clubs from the Great Lakes division of the ECNL Midwest Conference crossed-over and played the 6 clubs from the Heartland Division; each team played 3 games at each event.

This event, FC Wisconsin Eclipse matched up against St. Louis-Scott Gallagher - Illinois, national powerhouse Colorado Rush, and Colorado Storm over the 3 day event. Showing that the club can compete with the best in the conference, FC Wisconsin Eclipse was led by an undefeated effort from the U16s, and a strong 1-1-1 performance from the U17s.  

On the first day of the event, with the club matched against SLSG-Illinois at all age groups, the U15 team fell behind early in the second half, but battled back with goals from Taylor Kerwin and Lindsey Weiss to take a close 2-1 win.  The U16 team stormed out of the gate without looking back to claim a 3-1 win, including a highlight reel corner kick finish by Peyton Wesley, assisted by Mary Kate Simon.  The U17s conceded early and couldn’t find the equalizer to drop a close 0-1 decision, while the U18s fell by an identical score on a late 80th minute penalty.

Day two of the event saw the club face-off against the powerhouse Colorado Rush (who finished #7 in the ECNL Club Ranking in 2012-2013), in one of the toughest match-ups of the season.  With the U15s and U18s dropping tough games (0-2 and 1-4 respectively), it was the U16s and U17s that garnered points for the club.  The U16s fought to a 0-0 tie, nearly finding the winner multiple times with chances by Mary DeWalt and Molly Reibau, among others.  The U17s, in one of the best displays of team defending all season, held the dominating U17 Rush to a 0-0 tie with a fantastic defensive effort from the entire team, back-stopped by goalkeeper Jordyn Bloomer.

The final day of the event, always a difficult day physically and mentally, had the club facing Colorado Storm.  The U15s saw a glimpse of what the next level of competition looks like in a tough 0-5 loss against the 2013 national qualifiers.  In the 16 game, an early Riebau goal was cancelled out in the 65th minute, but a late penalty by Wesley (drawn by a surging run by DeWalt) secured 3 points for an undefeated weekend for the team.  The U17s finished the event in style, hitting their stride early and often in a 3-0 win that marked one of their most dominant performances in the ECNL.  Kate Hoefgen opened the scoring, followed by strikes from Kristin Corall and Mariah Downs.  The team’s second shut-out of the weekend was a credit to great defending by the back line of Chloe Knudtson, Bri Jaeger, Kara Baugrud, and Katie Golabowski, and great midfield screening from Gabbie Dorsey.  Short a man due to a rash of injuries, the U18s fought hard, but fell 1-2 late in the final game of the weekend.

"In most people's opinion, the ECNL Midwest Conference is one of the 2 toughest conferences in the country," said DOC Christian Lavers.  "For our teams to come out of the weekend with 4 wins and 2 ties in 12 games shows the progress and determination of the players, and is another indication of the huge work that these teams have put into training this season."

Overall, the U16 team only conceded 2 goals on the weekend, and the U17s proved to be the stingiest defense in the club with only 1 goal conceded in 3 games.  "The toughness shown by these teams, specifically in their tackling, work rate, and determination to win the game in the air, was fantastic," said Lavers.  "Teams that work as hard as they did create a blueprint for success in any game."

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