ECNL Florida National Event 2021: Day 2 Recap
The ECNL Florida National Event continued Saturday, with teams from all over the country playing in their first showcase of 2021. See below for a rundown of highlights from Day 2:
There are many different philosophies for how teams can earn a victory any day. Some prefer a possession-based game, while others are content with sitting back and countering. Some rely on a stout defense and others prefer a relentless attack.
Internationals Soccer’s U-18/19 club would fall into the latter category.
Through two games at the ECNL Florida National Event, Internationals SC has earned victories in both contests they’ve played, scoring four goals in each. Their front unit is truly that – a unit – with multiple players finding the scoresheet.
“We have a quality, attacking-minded team, and it’s great to see them be able to do this consistently against good competition,” said Coach Keri Sarver. “Our club as a whole has an attacking mindset and this team specifically has special attacking qualities that can unlock any opponent.”
Saturday morning, the attack was led by Taylor Huff.
Huff notched two goals in the match, but could have had more. She opened her scoring late in the first half with some fancy footwork in the box before drilling a shot past the goalkeeper and recorded her second after slashing through the defense on an extended run from the midfield.
“She’s a special player, she’s a difference maker,” said Coach Zdravko Popovic. “We are very fortunate to have that game-changing personality. She’s very versatile as well, we can play her at any position and she’ll succeed.”
Before Huff’s tallies, defender Clare Nicholas and midfielder Allison Schmidt both converted from long range early in the contest to allow Internationals SC to set the tone and never divert from its gameplan.
Sweet Home Alabama
Searching for a bounce back after a loss in their opening contest, Alabama FC’s U-16 side was ready for its match against NC Fusion Saturday morning.
The statement of the contest was made by Alabama FC’s defensive game, which embodied bend-but-don’t-break for 80 minutes. The team weathered early attacks from NC Fusion in the first half and kept a clean sheet through the first 40 minutes.
In the second half, the defense continued its consistent performance for Alabama FC, but NC Fusion was not without a few well earned chances.
In quick succession, NC Fusion earned free kicks dangerously close to the Alabama FC net, including one just on top of the box. The Fusion striker rifled a free kick on goal, but the wall jumped to block the attempt, and then immediately stopped the rebound before clearing the ball.
The defensive stop fueled the Alabama FC attack and just minutes later, Norah Roller cashed in on a rebound attempt to give her squad the 1-0 lead.
Alabama FC’s back line continued to hold and at the final whistle, earned the club a 1-0 win.
“I thought the players did well to get a win today,” said Head Coach Ben Parks. “The organization when defending set-pieces today was just fantastic. Now we’re looking forward to closing the weekend out with a positive result tomorrow.”
New Found Glory
Some clubs, such as Michigan Hawks, have been coming to national events such as ECNL Florida for years. But others, like United Futbol Academy, have only attended national events starting this season as they are first year clubs. When this contrast meets, it is an interesting match for sure.
Michigan got on the board first midway through the first half. A high pressing team, the Hawks were able to disrupt United attempting to play out of the back. The organized pressure paid off when Delaney Caldwell knocked a shot off a defender and into the net.
With his team trailing, United coach Iggy Moleka continued to urge his team to get the ball out and up faster, attacking Michigan head-on.
His adjustments worked, and United was rewarded for it.
“We needed to recognize the weaker side more, and change the point of attack much faster,” said Moleka. “We were taking too many touches and that was slowing us down. So we reinforced at halftime, go to the open side of the field.”
United’s Jordyn Dudley evened the game 1-1 in the waining minutes of the first half when she beat a defender at the top of the box and ripped a shot high. The Michigan keeper got her hands on the shot, but it was too hard and high as it still found the back of the net.
In the second half, Dudley earned an assist when she sent a cross into the box and Victoria DellaPeruta redirected it home to secure the team’s second win of the weekend.
“The greatest thing about this showcase is the competition, it’s flat-out good,” Moleka said. “You can’t come out here thinking you’re going to walk through teams, every team is talented. We’re excited to be here and to play with the best teams.”
“This is our first year playing in the ECNL,” Moleka added. “It’s been way better than even what I expected. They understand the girl’s model and the competition is awesome.”
Around The Pitch
- Heat FC traveled the furthest of any organization to participate in ECNL Florida, flying from Henderson, NV, more than 2,000 miles away, and has impressed with a 3-1-2 record this weekend across all age groups.
- Through two days of competition, there have been 41 games decided by just one goal and another 31 that have ended as draws.