ECNL U-14: Crossfire Premier pulls off upset of top seed Real Colorado at National Finals
By Jimmy LaRoue
Waukegan, Ill. — Crossfire Premier scored twice in the first 20 minutes and regrouped after halftime when previously undefeated Real Colorado pulled a goal back, holding on for a 2-1 upset win over the top seed in the Under-14 bracket of the Elite Clubs National League National Finals at the Waukegan SportsPark on Sunday.
The win puts Redmond, Wash.-based Crossfire Premier — the championship bracket’s sixteenth seed — in the ECNL national quarterfinals to face Mustang SC, who defeated FC Stars of Massachusetts 3-2.
Though the lowest seed to qualify for the U-14 Top 16 championship group, Crossfire was the second place team in the Northwest Conference with a 7-3-2 record, making improvements over the latter part of the season to propel them into the playoffs.
Real Colorado, for its part, finished undefeated at 10-0-0 and on top of the Mountain West Conference.
“It was incredibly gritty,” said Crossfire coach Tim Reynolds of his team’s performance. “I have to give massive kudos to Real Colorado. They are deserved number one seeds, no doubt about it. It was a character-driven performance from us.”
Reynolds said the team got a boost with a win at the prestigious Manchester United Cup, which featured 20 of the top U-14 teams in the U.S. at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., winning an all-expenses paid trip to the Gothia Cup in Sweden.
“We’ve enjoyed a bit of success recently at the Manchester United Cup and we’re riding the crest of the wave,” Reynolds said.
With Real Colorado boasting dominant striker Mallory Pugh up front, Reynolds said he wanted his team to take the game to them, wanting to get them off balance and “try to exploit the spaces in the channels.”
Tia Beck opened the scoring for Crossfire, converting a penalty, and Brooke Weedman following that up. Both scores came in the opening 20 minutes. Real Colorado pulled one back about six minutes before halftime, which had the potential to be a momentum changer, but Crossfire regrouped after halftime and held on.
“We competed all over the field,” Reynolds said. “I’m very, very proud of them.”