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ECNL Dec 05, 2021

ECNL Girls Tennessee Day 2: Internationals SC U-16s earn impressive victory

Keri Sarver knows the importance of quality competition.

Fresh off a stint as an assistant coach for the New Zealand Women’s National Team on their tour of a set of friendlies against the Korea Republic, Sarver returned to the United States to coach the U16 Internationals SC team against VDA at ECNL Tennessee. What transpired was a match that challenged Internationals and was entertaining from start to finish.

“Tonight’s game was excellent,” Sarver said. “Two really good teams. I loved the attacking style of both teams. The technical ability of both teams allowed us to break the opponent down more tactically versus physically, which is always a good challenge.”

Those technical abilities and tactics were apparent from the opening whistle. Both Internationals and VDA were flying up and down the pitch, sprinting with the ball while attempting to create mismatches between the offense and defenses. It was an offensive-minded match, and yet the defenses did a great job of limiting scoring chances each time there was a wave of attack.

After a scoreless first half, Internationals finally cashed in at the 50th minute when Tessa Knapp found the back of the net. In the thick of an Internationals attack, Knapp received a pass inside the penalty area and was staring down an open net. She rolled the ball into the back of the net to give the Ohio squad a 1-0 lead.

Armed with a 1-0 lead, Internationals still declined to sit back and park the bus. Rather the club continued to do what caused its success throughout the game, which was be relentless on the attack. And now trailing 1-0, VDA recommitted itself to its offensive game, opening up the contest even more.

Internationals had a golden opportunity later in the game to double its lead when VDA committed a foul inside the box. Pulling from her heroics in the National Selection Game last night, Eleanor Klinger stepped up to the spot and buried her PK, giving Internationals a 2-0 advantage in the 71st minute.

As the minutes ticked away in the second half, VDA did not want to be denied a chance to even the game. The Virginia club had a flurry of attacks in the final 10 minutes, doing anything and everything possible to claw its way into the match once again. However, Internationals bent but did not break, and at the final whistle, the club had a well-deserved 2-0 victory.

“ECNL does a great job of giving us quality matchups for every single game at showcases like this,” Sarver said. “So games like this are just fantastic. And this group is such a fun one to coach. They enjoy having the ball, they enjoy each other, they work for each other and they work off of each other. Their spirit is always high, high energy and happy to be around each other, which is important when you have three games in three days.”