ECNL Boys South Carolina National Event: Day 1 Recap
The ECNL Boys South Carolina National Event kicked off Friday with over 50 teams competing in the U-13 and U-14 age groups.
Continue reading for a rundown of the action.
All You Need Is One
Sometimes, just one shot is the difference between a win and a loss. Such was the case in a U14 battle between NCFC and United Futbol Academy. The two sides traded chances throughout the affair, with both clubs getting good looks on net and nearly converting. But the difference-maker was one shot from NCFC’s Carlos Valle.
Both sides were trading possession in the middle third midway through the first half, when the ball found Valle’s feet outside the box. He squared himself to the net and ripped a shot toward the goal. His shot sailed over the diving goalkeeper into the top left corner to give NCFC a 1-0 lead.
Throughout the rest of the contest, NCFC wore down United with possession and pressure, while UFA was content waiting for potent counterattacks. But both backlines stood strong, and at the final whistle, Valle’s tally was all NCFC needed for victory.
“It’s always great to start the weekend off with a win, but what’s more important is that my team played well,” said NCFC Head Coach Dewan Bader. “The combination of the two is awesome. The teams that have success when they play, it’s because of quality defending, and today, our backline covered for us when things didn’t go well and enabled us to press. So it was a good game and we’re looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”
Twice Is Nice
Albertson SUSA and VDA are two of the top teams in the U14 age group, so it’s fitting the two faced off against each other in the first game for each side at ECNL South Carolina. Bringing the two teams together is always sure to create an exciting match, and this one was no different.
Albertson SUSA took a 1-0 lead early in the first half when Nikola Kolega converted on a shot from outside the box. After Albertson SUSA forced a turnover, Kolega corralled a pass and chipped a shot over the goalie and into the back of the net for the score.
VDA had its best chance to tie the contest late in the first half, but the Albertson SUSA defense made a goal-line stop off a corner kick, sending the Long Island squad into halftime with the lead.
Albertson SUSA doubled its lead midway through the second half with an incredible effort from Blake Donahue. Donahue tore down the left side of the pitch, avoiding two VDA defenders before sending a throughball directly to Christopher Abbott. With the VDA goalkeeper charging, Abbott deftly knocked the ball into the net to make it a 2-0 game.
Late in the second half, VDA cut into Albertson SUSA’s lead when the team was whistled for a handball inside the box. Gary Grigoryan stepped up to the spot and buried his shot, making it a 2-1 contest.
VDA continued to try and find an equalizer, but Albertson SUSA’s offensive pressure kept the ball away from their net and secured the 2-1 win at the final whistle.
“The boys deserve all the credit,” said Marcelo Arango, Albertson SUSA Head Coach. “We like to attack, we like to possess and we got two goals because of it today. Unfortunately, not all of your chances go in, but today, those two were enough to win. This type of game, this type of competition, it’s exactly what we need to get ready for playoffs, so we’re excited for the rest of the weekend.”
Three Times The Charm
Heading into ECNL South Carolina, one of the things the Colorado Rapids Boys Elite Director Jeb Brovsky wanted to see from his U13 squad was better finishing in the final third. During his team’s game against Concorde Fire Premier Friday, they rose to the challenge.
It started with Alex Kedzierski, who got Colorado Rapids on the scoreboard early on in the first half. Kedzierski received a pass inside the box and immediately directed the ball on net. His shot squeezed between the goalkeeper and the post to give his team the 1-0 lead.
In the second half, Kedzierski recorded his second tally of the game. Colorado earned itself a corner on the left side of the pitch. The Rapid’s service went long, but Kedzierski was waiting at the back post and one-timed the cross into the back of the net.
Colorado added another goal late in the game, taking a 3-0 lead when Gavin Barringer broke through on a fourth chance after three other Rapids shots were blocked. The three goals were one of the highest-scoring outputs for the team this season and was very encouraging for Brovsky to see.
“We haven’t been out of state much this year, so it’s great to play some different competition,” Brovsky said. “It’s a good confidence booster for the boys, and the offense was the big key today. They’ve struggled to put the ball in the back of the net and while we’ve played some good soccer, we haven’t been able to complete that final third. So I was really happy to see them finally break through.”
What also impressed Brovsky was the team’s response to a late PK for Concorde Fire Premier that ultimately ended the team’s clean sheet.
“The boys were also disappointed to not keep the clean sheet,” Brovsky added. “It was really good to see their attitudes about that, that they cared just as much about keeping the ball out of the net as they did putting it in the net.”