Recaps from the first-ever ECNL Regional League Selection Games in STL and S.C.
Some of the brightest stars in the Regional League got the opportunity to showcase their skills in front of hundreds of spectators at both locations. See below for a look at how each of the games went down.
South Carolina Recap
In South Carolina, the game was tightly contested throughout the first half hour of the contest. Just over a half hour into the game though, Galilea Vela (Loudoun Soccer) found the breakthrough for the West. After finding some space just outside the box, Vela was able to curl one past the keeper to make it 1-0.
Early in the second half the West was able to extend that 1-0 advantage on a corner kick. Ella Hoover (Ohio Premier) made a great run near the back post and found herself open right on the doorstep and was able to head home a goal that put the West up 2-0.
The West tacked on one more late in the half on another corner kick. This time, Autumn Hottle (VSA) found herself a bit of space inside the box and was able to hit a looping header just over the keeper to give the West their third goal of the night, securing a 3-0 victory.
Although the West put on an impressive scoring display throughout the night, they were anchored at the back by strong defense from their goalkeeper, Mia Tegeris (Great Falls Reston).
After the game, Tegeris described what her mindset was like playing on such a big stage in front of so many supporters.
“My mindset going into the game was just to believe in myself, trust myself, and play my game,” Tegeris said. “I was really keen on keeping a clear mind because that’s when I perform best.”
Tegeris also discussed how amazing the atmosphere was and how it compared to what she hopes is a bit of a preview for what the college and pro game will look like.
“It was an amazing experience. There was just so much talent on this field. It was great watching the players and it was great seeing these people here watching us. It felt like I was on a college or pro level, so it was a bit of a preview.”
— ECNL Girls (@ECNLgirls) December 10, 2022
St. Louis Recap
Meanwhile in St. Louis, the second game of the night kicked off at Creve Coeur Soccer Park, and it featured a whole lot of goals.
15 minutes in, the West earned a penalty that was put home by Ekaterina Theoharidis (Kansas City Athletics) to give them a 1-0 lead. The East was able to find the response though. First half goals from Maya Stevenson (Sporting Nebraska) and Katiebeth May (Racing Louisville Academy) turned the game around and put the East on top 2-1.
Just before halftime though, Tori Bockstadter (Missouri Rush) was able to break through the East defense on a long pass over the top. With the keeper charging toward her, Bockstadter calmly chipped the ball up over her and into the back of the net, knotting things up at 2-2 going into the break.
Out of halftime the East had the answers though.
May struck for her second goal of the night in truly spectacular fashion in the 64th minute. From outside the box, May was able to fire a long-range effort up over the goalie and find the back of the net from a sharp angle to put the East on top 3-2.
“I just took a touch and was like I just want to try something new and take a chance. I hit it and made good contact and it went in the opposite corner,” May said.
After that, Adriana Benassi (KC Scott Gallagher) tacked on the fourth goal of the night for the East and that would be all they would need to hold off the West, 4-2.
After the game, both May and Benassi described what a special night it was and how incredible their experiences on the field were.
“It was really cool getting to play in front of all these people and play against some of the best people in the league. It was so competitive, and it was just so fun and challenging,” May said.
“I knew there was going to be a lot of talent at this level,” Benassi said. “I loved how competitive everyone was and the skill that everyone had.”
From signs made by their teammates to support and cheers they got from people they did not even know, Benassi and May both agree the night was memorable and showed what the game is all about.
“It was good to see the signs made for us and see the people from your club come out and support you. It just felt good to have fans around you,” Benassi said.
“It was such a cool environment,” May said. “Even people you don’t know are cheering and supporting you. It was a really nice environment and just made you understand what the whole league and purpose of the game are.”
— ECNL Girls (@ECNLgirls) December 10, 2022