Week 2 of the weather delayed FC Wisconsin Players Champions League finally got underway on February 19, with two more fiercely competitive games. Each team was missing a number of players due to illness and travel conditions, making the squads small for the physically demanding indoor games. However, despite the increased load, the players showed the determination, leadership, and decision making that are the core of FC Wisconsin players.
Game One: Team Develop 5 – Achieve 1.
Team Develop picked up their first win of the season led by Annika Seem, who with 2 goals and an assist to add to her brace last week, is establishing herself as Team Develop’s most consistent attacking threat. As the team possibly most impacted by injuries, Team Achieve will need a big performance next week against league leading Team Aspire if they hope to earn a place in the League Championship Game.
It appears to be the trend in the 2019 PCL for games to start with early goals and then quiet down, and this game was no different with Seem’s individual effort cancelled by an assured finish from Izzy Arnold after an Aryssa Mahrt cut-back. It would be the last action for Mahrt, as a minor injury would rule her out for the rest of the game in a precautionary move. After scoring 6 goals in week one, this proved to be a significant absence.
The second period was an equally defensive and cagey encounter, with the exception coming in the form of the best goal of the game from Ashley Jones, cutting inside her marker and firing in to the bottom corner to give Develop the lead. Sofia Englund and T-Rose Ayuden looked to add more attacking spark for Develop but neither could apply a finish to cap off some good runs. Jamie Puppe and Dre Alberts looked comfortable in repelling any attacks from Achieve who were limited to a handful of counter attacks.
In the final period Team Achieve’s resistance was finally broken as fatigue began to set in. After making some good saves earlier in the game, Sydney Kallinger could do little about goals from Seem, Ayudan, and Katrina Patscot to round out the victory and move Team Develop to second in the league standings.
Game Two: Team Aspire 8 – Team Unshakable 3.
Team Aspire now sits alone at the top of the table after their second straight victory, this time dispatching another Team Unshakable. Liz Murphy was the catalyst for Aspire, scoring the game’s opening goal and assisting on 4 other goals. Daisy Johnson, as the leagues youngest goalkeeper, had an outstanding game showing no fear in the face of one of the league’s best goal-scorers in Unshakable’s Rachel Dallet. Despite their lack of depth, Dallet was determined to keep her team in the game, but was consistently thwarted by Johnson.
After a goalless first period the game changed when Murphy started and finished a move 30 seconds into the second period, combining with Ava Stelter to finish well from 6-yards out. Aspire would not look back and quickly added goals from Stelter and Hailey Rothwell, both assisted by Murphy. For Team Unshakable, Anna Franceschi had been driving forward from midifield, and it was her shot that finally created the breakthrough. Although initially saved, Dallet was on hand to drive home the rebound. Any flicker of a comeback for Unshakable was soon extinguished, however, through goals by Ahnna Faust and Caitlin Dominski to give Team Aspire a commanding 5-1 leading heading in to the final 20 minutes.
A tactical adjustment from Unshakable did put pressure on Aspire in the last period, and goals from Ashley Wolff, and the club’s newest player, Morgan Toone, made for an exciting finish. However by forgoing some defensive responsibility they made themselves vulnerable on the counter-attack and goals from Stelter, Rothwell, and Dominski sealed the win for Aspire.
With goals coming from a variety of sources and a solid back line led by Nicole Norfolk, Maya Alberts, and Alyssa Cornell, Team Aspire look tough to beat heading in to the last round of group games. However, with every team still having a chance to reach the Championship Game, and players to returning to fitness, there could still be one or two surprises left in store.