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ECNL Apr 07, 2024

All-Star teams battle to tough 1-1 draw in ECNL Girls Phoenix National Selection Game

The stars of ECNL Phoenix took the field Friday night as the East and West squared off in the Continental Tire ECNL National Selection Game at Reach 11 Sports Complex in Phoenix. (ROSTERS)

In the 16th minute, the East struck first when Tianna Hunsaker (Heat FC) made a great run toward the near post on a corner kick and finished a great header to put the East up 1-0.

Despite chances from both sides the East managed to hold that 1-0 lead into halftime.

The West answered back in the 53rd minute, when Maylen Montoya (Pleasanton Rage) fired home a shot from inside the box off a set piece to level the game at 1-1.

Both teams pushed hard for the game winner throughout the second half, leading to a frantic finish where both sides sent their goalies up into the attack on set piece chances. In the final minutes of extra time, the East had an opportunity to fire in the game winner when they sent a ball right across the face of goal, but the West was able to clear it away to seal a 1-1 draw between the two sides.

After the game, Emmy O’Donnell (FC Stars Blue) of the East team and Dalia Asad Halim (Mustang SC) of the West team were named the players of the match following their outstanding performances for both sides.

“It was a really great experience,” O’Donnell said after the game. “I got to play at a really high level. It was just really cool to have my friends out here supporting me on this stage.”

“It was the highest competition,” Asad Halim said. There was not one player out there who did not deserve to be here.”

With both teams meeting each other just an hour before kickoff, both players commented on how quickly the teams were able to bond together and build chemistry throughout the night.

“We bonded so quickly,” said Asad Halim. “Everyone was so positive with each other and it was easy to connect.”

O’Donnell noted how the chemistry her side was able to establish early on continued to grow throughout the night as the players became more familiar with each other’s styles of play.

“At the start we were trying to get used to each other, but as the game went on we started making runs for each other and building off each other,” said O’Donnell. As the game went on we got more comfortable with each other.”

Both players also talked about how much energy the crowd brought to the game and how that helped both sides raise their intensity to match the atmosphere.

“It was crazy. The noise and energy was so high,” said Asad Halim.

“It made me want to play harder and better. It brought up the intensity of the game,” O’Donnell said.