The U13 and U14 ECNL teams enjoyed a successful weekend in Michigan, winning 3 out of 4 games against ECNL Midwest Conference opponents Michigan Hawks Black and Vardar SC.
The U14 games appeared to show two very different performances between Saturday and Sunday, with a 5-2 loss on Saturday to Hawks Black, before a 4-1 win against Vardar on Sunday, but that would be inaccurate. The balance of possession and territory across both games was fairly even, with the major difference being the level of individual competitiveness in the penalty box. With the majority of Hawks Black’s goals coming as a result of wide service, the U14s will need to make significant improvement in this area if they are to turn close possession games in to positive results.
The tables were turned during Sunday’s U14 game as FC Wisconsin scored twice from corners, and physically dominated play against Vardar to turn their possession into meaningful chances. Through winning the majority of physical battles, they were able to spend more time in possession of the ball, and created a number of good attacking moments. Despite a late consolation goal via a penalty kick, Vardar were limited to very few chances and the FC Wisconsin players looked good value for their win.
The U13 team took a pair of 1-0 wins away from the weekend. In contrast to the U14 games, the 1-0 score lines did not reflect the dominance of possession enjoyed by the FC Wisconsin team, but the scores did reflect the difficulty of turning possession in to goal-scoring opportunities and the challenge of breaking down teams that are defending deep in their own half.
Across both games, the U13s showed patience and quality as they continued to circulate the ball and press for openings to goal. Even more pleasing was the increased level of physical competitiveness to quickly win the ball back that made the games feel more comfortable even while the score-line remained close.
Both teams must move on quickly as there are no easy games in the ECNL. Up next are a pair of games against Eclipse SC, (Solar on May 5 and Lunar the following weekend), before the teams round out the ECNL season against Minnesota Thunder Academy.