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ECNL Jun 27, 2012

ECNL U-15: Dallas Sting, Colorado Rush to meet in championship clash

By Jimmy LaRoue 

Waukegan, Ill.– While Dallas Sting was taking care of business against Crossfire Premier during a 4-1 win, Colorado Rush was busy holding off PDA 1-0.

The wins mean Rush and Sting, the seventh and eighth seeds, respectively, will meet in the ECNL U-15 national final.

“I thought the first half we played good, we played well, we created chances, scored the goal,” said Rush coach Wes Hart. “The first half I was very pleased with. The second half, I was, I don’t know. I don’t want to say a bit disappointed, but it was not exactly how I wanted the second half to go.”

On the goal, Hart noted how well midfielder Jordan DiBiasi did in getting out wide and getting a perfect service to Rylie O’Keefe, who headed the ball into the net for what proved to be the only goal of the match.

As O’Keefe noted, it’s something they’re good at doing.

“I just saw Jordan taking it on the right side and I knew we needed to fill the box with players,” O’Keefe said, “so I was trying to get everyone in the box that I could, and it was me and Betsy Brandon going in the box, and I knew she ran near post, so I knew I should stay back. Jordan said she just focused on hitting one of us and she saw me and I screamed as loud as I could, and then there was a player in front of me, so I jumped over her and I just focused on keeping [the header] down, and it went in.”

Hart wanted to keep attacking and dictating play against PDA. However, he speculated that tired legs after playing the third game in three days had something to do with the slowdown.

“Your body’s really tired, but you’ve just got to push through it,” O’Keefe said. “It’s more of a mental sport, so you’ve just got to get through it. … give 100 percent during the game and after the game it’s about resting, icing and then when you step on the field again, it’s 100 percent.”

He wanted to see connected passes and possession, and that’s what Hart got in the first half, but the second half “was too much hanging on for me.”

“Three hard games in three days, it’s not like you can afford to rest a lot of players,” Hart said, noting that in each game, a loss meant no chance to win a championship, which like all the teams in the national finals groups, has been his squad’s goal.

Rush, he noted, expended a lot of energy having to come from behind for wins in its first two matches against Ohio Elite Soccer Academy and Eclipse Select. Hart said he understood it was “unrealistic” to expect his team to expend the kind of energy it did in the first two matches.

“We’re very happy with where we’re at and the opportunity ahead of us, but we’re certainly not satisfied,” Hart said. “We’re here to compete for a national championship and we’re fortunate enough to be one step away from winning that.”

O’Keefe and her teammates are excited for the opportunity.

“It’s the best thing ever,” O’Keefe said. “I’m so excited. I know we got it.”

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