Every weekend of the ECNL shows why the league is the best youth female development platform in the world. On October 11-12, in FC Wisconsin Eclipse's first ECNL road trip of the season, these qualities were on display in abundance. The progress of the club, the strength of the ECNL, and the quality of the Midwest Conference continue to be impressive.
Every weekend of the ECNL shows why the league is the best youth female development platform in the world. The skill, concepts, and physicality on display game after game are clear evidence of why the ECNL has become the overwhelming pathway to Division I college soccer and the youth national teams. On October 11-12, in FC Wisconsin Eclipse's first ECNL road trip of the season, these qualities were on display in abundance. The progress of the club, the strength of the ECNL, and the quality of the Midwest Conference continue to be impressive.
Saturday saw the Wisconsin U14-U18 teams face St. Louis Scott Gallagher - MO in the final match-up of these clubs for the 2014-2015 season. The U14s kicked off the weekend with a 0-0 tie against a very talented and dynamic SLSG-MO team. Maddie Torres did well in goal, and Nicole Norfolk and Maria Nordness marshalled the back line effectively. The U14s were perhaps a bit fortunate to keep SLSG-MO off the board, but in 2 games this season against the Missouri outfit, the U14s have finished with 4 points - a fantastic accomplishment.
The U15s and U16s both had disappointing performances against SLSG-MO. Both teams lacked urgency and competitiveness in individual battles, and dropped games 0-5 and 1-3, respectively. These losses set the stage for a fantastic rebound from the age groups on Sunday.
The U17s had the most dramatic game of the day, holding a 2-1 lead until the 93rd minute when a defensive error against the run of play allowed an SLSG-MO equalizer. Jessica Cooley had opened the scoring early in the first half, and Delaney Hughes scored her first ECNL goal from the penalty spot. Unfortunately, despite multiple opportunities to score the third goal, the team could not find enough attacking quality and dropped 2 precious points.
The U18s had a brilliant defensive effort in a 0-0 tie, led by quality play from Briana Jaeger and Chloe Knudtson in the back line, with the dependable Jordyn Bloomer in goal behind them. The team almost stole 3 points on a late counter-attack by Allison Jacobson and Steph Fabry - but the SLSG-MO goalkeeper was up to the task.
With 3 teams in last year's ECNL North American Cup Finals, SLSG-MO is a tough match for anyone. An overall day of 3 ties and 2 losses for FC Wisconsin Eclipse was respectable, but left the program looking for more.
Sunday, October 12th found FC WI Eclipse matched against Sporting Blue Valley from Kansas City for the first time in the 2014-2015 season. After nearly sweeping SLSG-IL on the previous day (a tie at U18 the lone exception), Sporting was going to be a tough match-up at every age group.
The U15s and U16s started the day showing they had taken the previous day's lessons, and the discussion of club standards that night, to heart. Maddie Frey staked the U15s to a 1-0 lead, and great defending by Sierra Koch and Camryn Hart, with great goalkeeping from Lexi Bullis, was enough for the team to earn a 1-1 tie after a late Sporting goal. Taylor Kerwin scored in the 20th minute to put the U16s in front, and the goal was enough for a 1-0 win. Christina Barczak led a great defensive performance, with attacking support from outside backs Bianca Stubler and Taylor Tabbert. The result put the U16s at 2-3 in the conference to date.
The U17s dropped a heartbreaking 1-2 decision, after taking a 1-0 lead into halftime. Payton Wesley scored the goal, but it was for naught as Sporting scored twice in 3 minutes in the second half. Once again, the inability to finish chances in the penalty box haunted the U17s - and the team will need better performances in attack to resume their winning ways from last season.
The U18s finished the road trip with a well-earned 1-0 win, off the back of a free kick bomb from Briana Jaeger. The attacking combination of Allison Jacobson, Steph Fabry, and Haley Prudent almost saw the lead doubled many times - but they couldn't quite find the breakthrough. That didn't matter though, as the back line and Katie Hoefgen and Christina Feller were fantastic in defense and in the air - physically dominating the Sporting players.
Now in the heart of the ECNL season, the FC Wisconsin Eclipse teams return to the field at home this weekend to finish the season series against SLSG-IL and Sporting. Come to FC Wisconsin soccer park to see the best level of girls youth soccer in the US!