An undefeated day in Minneapolis saw FC Wisconsin Eclipse teams show grit, determination, and a lot of progress against Minnesota Thunder Academy.
The FC Wisconsin Eclipse U15, U16 and U17 teams continued ECNL Midwest Conference play on Sunday in the West St. Paul Dome in Minnesota, with 3 tough matches against the Minnesota Thunder Academy. In a testament to the work and determination of these teams over the past months, the program finished undefeated on the day - with 0-0 ties at U15 and U17, and a 1-0 win at U16.
"Minnesota Thunder is a great club," said Christian Lavers. "Their teams are always well organized, they have special players, and they have had great success in the ECNL over the past few years. This is always a tough match-up for us, and we were really happy to see the results reflect the huge progress that our players have worked so hard to make."
The U15s started the day with a back-and-forth affair that saw opportunities from both sides, with neither team able to capitalize on them. The U15 defense was led by Christina Barczak, constantly organizing the back four, with Jen Wandt rock solid in goal behind her. Taylor Tabbert found opportunities to get forward from left back and created several dangerous moments for MTA, while Camille Davre, Katie Slater, and Lindsey Weiss were dangerous anytime they connected with each other in the attacking half. The 0-0 result was a fair score to both sides, and sets up a great re-match for the return trip to Milwaukee in November.
The U16s opened the scoring in the 15th minute with a great finish from Emma Langer, which proved to be just enough to secure the 1-0 win against the 2013 ECNL North American Cup Finals participant. Lilly Mueller was great in the net, with several key saves in the second half, while Peyton Wesley and Libby Snyder dominated the game in the air from centerback and Jess Cooley and Mary Kate Simon calmly patrolled the wide spaces. Kate Del Fava was a great presence in midfield, aided by the versatile Mary DeWalt playing multiple positions to help secure the win in the final minutes.
The U17s drew the last, and perhaps the toughest match of the day, against the reigning 2013 Midwest Conference Champions. Having never gotten a result against MTA, the team knew their best would be required - and they proved up to the task in an entertaining match that, despite no goals, featured plenty of drama on both ends. Gaby Dorsey marshalled the team from midfield, constantly harrassing MTA players and initiating the Wisconsin attack. The back four of Kara Baugrud, Chloe Knudtson, Brianna Jaeger, and Katie Golabowski was solid as a rock - answering the bell on every MTA attack, with excellent composure and play from Jordyn Bloomer in goal behind them. McKenzie Runyan, Kristin Corral, and Kenzie Challoner were also tremendous on both sides of the ball, growing in confidence as the game went on. The Wisconsin attack was led by Steph Fabry, and Allison Jacobson, who combined to put worry into the opposition on the counter throughout the game.
"Every week we talk about how difficult it is to compete in the ECNL, and how good the opposition is every game," said Lavers. "FC Wisconsin Eclipse was founded to show that Wisconsin players have a place in this league, and that Wisconsin soccer should be on the national map. This weekend was a great glimpse of the future that awaits Wisconsin players that aspire to be the best, and who are willing to do the work that comes with that ambition. We are very proud of these teams."