On April 11-13, the FC Wisconsin Eclipse Spring Program players traveled to Cinicinnati, OH, to compete in the Blue Chip Showcase, the biggest non-ECNL college showcase in the spring in the Midwest. Despite challenges of muddy, heavy fields and playing in their first "hot" weather in nearly 6 months, the teams nearly went undefeated - with only 1 loss in 6 games
On April 11-13, the FC Wisconsin Eclipse Spring Program players traveled to Cinicinnati, OH, to compete in the Blue Chip Showcase, the biggest non-ECNL college showcase in the spring in the Midwest. Despite challenges of muddy, heavy fields and playing in their first "hot" weather in nearly 6 months, the teams nearly went undefeated - with only 1 loss in 6 games.
In the spring season, FC Wisconsin Eclipse players are mixed across multiple age groups to create "new" teams that challenge players in multiple ways: many players play one year up in competition, most spend time in slightly different positions, and all are playing in competition with players they are not accustomed to playing with. Each of these challenges presents new opportunities for development and problem-solving as players are forced to think in different ways.
"This weekend was my first opportunity to see the girls play in competition," said new Staff Coach Joana Bielefeld. "Over the course of the weekend, I thought they adapted well to playing in tough conditions that slowed the games down and created heavy legs, and that ultimately really required them to be better in winning headballs and individual battles. Games aren't always played on perfect turf fields with no wind, so learning to play in different circumstances is important."
"This event is always an interesting challenge for our teams," said Director of Coaching Christian Lavers. "We expect some challenges created simply by the fact that we have mixed age groups in the event - but the fields are way slower, and the weekend is usually the first time we have played outside in months - which creates additional hurdles. It is always enlightening to see how the players respond in these circumstances, and how they deal with the adversity. I think this year was a big step forward in both results and quality of play, which is a credit to their work this fall and winter."
"I was happy to see the response from the U17 group on Sunday," said Staff Coach Andy Lee. "They showed some backbone and pride in not letting the previous day create any hang-over, and in raising their standards significantly. Beyond that, I was impressed by how much both teams tried to keep the ball on the ground in very difficult conditions. We still need to do better in individual battles at all age groups, but the ideas in possession were pretty good."
The Spring Program players are off this weekend, but many will be attending the NWSL home opener of the Chicago Red Stars professional women's team as they take on Western New York and Abby Wambach and Carly Lloyd. The teams resume competition the following weekend in the Eclipse Select Spring Invitational.
"The real value of the spring, and this event specifically, is in preparation for the ECNL Play-Offs in June," said Lavers. "I think it was a good start and points out some direction for us in the coming weeks of training."