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ECNL May 31, 2021

ECNL Boys Virginia National Event Day 2 Recap

The ECNL Boys Virginia National Event continued on Sunday in Richmond, Va. with over 125 teams competing across the U15-U17 age groups.

See below for a recap of some of the day’s top performances.

Connect 4

In Pipeline SC’s contest against Tulsa SC Sunday morning, the U17 squad proved that it doesn’t matter how many scoring chances you have, but rather it’s what you make of them.

Throughout the first half, Tulsa SC dictated play. The team pressured the Pipeline defense and then pressured them some more, forcing Pipeline’s Brandon Asch to make key saves to keep the score tied. And then exactly midway through the first half, Pipeline pounced.

Zachary Eichelberger dribbled the ball down the right side of the pitch, using his speed to create space for an attack. He made a move into the middle and then crossed it to Colin McCarthy on the back post. Receiving the ball, McCarthy made a defender fall to the ground and then perfectly placed a shot into the bottom right corner of the net, giving the boys in black a 1-0 lead.

Following the goal, Tulsa SC ramped back up the pressure, but Pipeline refused to break. And in the 33rd minute, they added to their lead. Jacob Murrell found a loose ball in the box and blasted it top shelf to double Pipeline’s lead to 2-0.

Pipeline entered halftime with a 2-0 lead, determined to add to it, while Tulsa searched for its first tally of the contest and a spark for a comeback attempt.

The two sides traded shots through the first 13 minutes of the second half, but Pipeline once again was the team to get on the scoreboard, making it a 3-0 contest when Murrell rocketed a shot into the back of the net from the top of the box for his second of the game.

Tulsa had a golden opportunity in the 55th minute to cut into Pipeline’s lead when the team was awarded a penalty kick after a Pipeline tackle inside the box. Ethan Gordon ran forward and ripped a shot to the right, but Asch guessed correctly, fully laying out for a diving save to maintain his shutout.

In the 71st minute, Pipeline scored its fourth goal of the contest, coming off the foot of Owen Reid. Tulsa SC finally snapped Asch’s shutout in the game’s final minutes, as Ian McIntosh curled a beautiful free-kick around a Pipeline wall from 25 yards out. Unfortunately for Tulsa, there wasn’t enough time to crack into Pipeline’s lead any more than just a single tally.

Staying Patient

After each team earned a win on Saturday, Tennessee SC and BVB IA – North Texas’s U16s met Sunday afternoon for a matchup that tested each squad to the fullest.

The majority of the first half was a chess match for the two sides, acting and reacting, searching for any way to find an advantage. Much of the game was played in the midfield, but Tennessee SC found itself in more scoring opportunities. Unfortunately, the team could not convert any of its chances early on.

In the final minutes of the first half though, each side earned its best chance of the half. Tennessee nearly found its first goal of the game in the 33rd minute, as Adrian Byasiima quickly received a pass at the top of the box, turned and fired it on net, just pushing it wide left. In the 36th minute, BVB IA responded with a counterattack, rushing down the left side of the pitch. Mateo Mohler took a shot after his run, but the Tennessee SC goalkeeper Miley Kipley made a diving save to keep it out of the net.

Both coaches headed into halftime with adjustments in mind to get the game’s first goal.

“We were both trying to figure each other out,” said Dru Wright, BVB IA’s U16 Head Coach.  “At halftime, we were just looking to exploit the spaces. They did a good job of trying to sit in behind the ball. We really talked about being composed and picking those opportunities to catch them in a counter.”

BVB IA opened the second half on the front foot, attacking from the beginning and earning multiple corner kicks. But heavy services or blocked shots kept the team off the board until the 66th minute.

With a throw-in from the left side, Colin Frye received the quick restart 35 yards from the box. Seeing an opportunity, he bombed a shot on net. BVB IA’s Landon deLeeuw ran in front of the goalkeeper as the ball sailed on net, creating just enough of a distraction to allow the ball to deflect off him and into the net.

Minutes later, BVBIA almost added to its total off a free kick from Colby deLeeuw, whose shot from the left corner of the box bounced off the inside of the right post and back into the field of play.

Tennessee SC mounted a comeback, sending numbers forward in an attempt to find the equalizer, but BVB IA refused to keep the ball in its own side of the field, volleying every ball back to Tennessee SC, forcing them to reset. The strategy worked, as BVB IA walked off the pitch with a 1-0 win after 80 minutes.

I thought it was a harsh result for us,” said Greg Warden, Tennessee SC U16 Head Coach. “I thought we were the better team but we weren’t very good in the final third. I think a draw would have been a fair result, because we weren’t good enough in the final third to score goals. Harsh to lose but we’ve got to finish in the final third.”

“So far two wins this weekend, so on Monday, we just have to stay focused,” Wright said. “It’s all about focus now. We’ll regenerate and get our bodies ready to go again and come back out early tomorrow morning. It’s just about coming out focused and bringing energy and hopefully we’ll get the result we need.”

HomeTown Dub

Already having clinched a spot in the U17 playoffs, Richmond United hosted a very hungry Pittsburgh Riverhounds squad aiming to use ECNL Virginia as a way to secure a wild card berth.

Both teams came out with scoring chances early, with Richmond using a brilliant give-and-go play from William Hall and Noah Fowler to get a good look on net, while Pittsburgh had a good run and shot by Anders Bordoy also saved. The two sides kept feeling each other out, but Richmond was able to expose a weakness first.

Earning a corner on the right side of the field, Richmond put a service into the box. The cross was perfectly placed for one of its tallest players, Timothy Vickerie, to leap and hit a volley past the Pittsburgh keeper to earn a 1-0 lead.

Following its goal, Richmond continued to put the ball in the attacking third, keeping the Pittsburgh defense back on its heels. The Riverhounds were able to mount a small number of counterattacks, but by the end of the first half, possession decidedly favored Richmond.

Just minutes into the second half, Richmond’s Cody Marshall displayed a level of persistence that is rarely seen and always to be admired. Cutting into the box from the left side of the pitch, Marshall started a clever give-and-go, receiving the ball back only to elude the reaching efforts of multiple Riverhounds defenders and to go 1v1 with the Pittsburgh keeper. His initial attempt was denied but the rebound fell favorably and Marshall made no mistake on the second attempt, doubling United’s lead.

“I thought we worked hard,” said Michael Callahan, Richmond United’s U17 Head Coach. I don’t think it was the best game on the attack overall, but I thought the way our guys fought and competed was pretty good. Cody was an example of that.”

Desperate to keep its playoff hopes alive, Pittsburgh fought to earn and keep possession and utilized its gritty players to try and claw back into the contest. Throughout the half, the ball found the head or foot of Caden Carpenter near the box, but every attempt was just a shade off the mark or saved by the goalkeeper. Ultimately, Pittsburgh was unable to find a goal, falling to Richmond 2-0.

“Richmond United were a really good team,” said Dave Nicholas, Pittsburgh Riverhounds U17 Head Coach. “We had a couple of chances early on, but they scored at the right times. We had pinched the ball off them a few times, but we just really didn’t maintain good possession in good areas. So we just have to improve on when we get the ball back, those first two or three passes after winning it, just to maintain it better than when we did today.”

Despite the result, Pittsburgh is determined to continue to battle for a wild card berth, starting with its final game of the showcase Monday.

“For us, earning points is really critical because we’re floating around that wild card position now, so we need the points per game,” Nicholas said. “We got a point yesterday, dropped the three today, so we’re looking to try and get three points tomorrow.”

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