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ECNL's Midwest Conference offers quality

Published: January 31, 2012

KCFC U16 is 17-0-0 in conference play this season with an extraordinary plus 62 goal differential.

How did a recently promoted team take such a commanding lead of a very difficult conference?

By putting its foot on the gas on offense and never taking it off.

“We are very aggressive with this team, maybe crazy, but we are playing a 3-4-3,” KCFC Huw Williams told TopDrawerSoccer.com. “It is pretty much an all out attack. We scored a ton of goals.”

Williams’ team averaged a remarkable 4.1 goals per game in a conference that includes two teams that finished in the top ten in the nation last year.

girls club soccer kcfc haley hansonHaley Hanson
KCFC, on the other hand, was the champion of Flight B last year and was promoted to the top flight for this season.

“There are no real superstars on this team,” said Williams. “They work for each other and work well together. They’re a committed bunch of girls who work very hard.”
Williams’ team is currently second in the national Flight A standings with an impressive 2.27 points per game average.

It was the second week of the season when Coach Williams knew he had something special with this group.  

“The biggest win we had was against the Michigan Hawks early in the season,” said Williams. “We came away from Detroit with a 1-0 win and that is when I realized this team is for real.”

The Hawks finished in the top nine in the Challenge A National Standings last season, and were also the regional champions for the area.  

“I have a lot of respect for the team and the coaching staff,” said Williams about the Michigan Hawks, which is coached by Doug Landefeld and led by Technical Director Brian Doyle.

“They are a very good team,” said Landefeld about KCFC U16. “They are very difficult to play against with quality players and good athletes.”

Landefeld’s side trails KCFC by 23 points in the conference, but the Hawks do remain in the top 10 in the national standings this year.

“We are always trying to improve on the year before,” said Landefeld. “We did a lot of things last year with state cup and ECNL, we were spread out a little thin. ECNL is the primary focus this year.”

Leading the way to national glory for the Hawks is forward Megan Buckingham.

“Her improvement this year has made a big difference,” said Landefeld about the U15 national team player. “She has responded with some very important goals for us.”
The coach also talked about Ally Herron, whom he described as a “confident defender.”

Williams highlighted a handful of stars from his KCFC U16 team as well.

Cristina DeZeeuw allows us to play that three back system,” said Williams.  “She is physical, good tactically, and good on the ball.”

Haley Hanson is the cog in the midfield for the team, “she wins a lot of balls and is technically gifted too.”

Up front, the forwards have been on fire all season, but Williams specifically mentioned Abigail Sieperda and Dorian Bailey.

“Bailey creates mismatches for us. She is equally as effective with her left or right foot.”

Conference leaders KCFC have three games at the San Antonio National Showcase event at the end of February before the team takes a break for high school soccer. Williams said he will not see his players again until June and is hopeful the red-hot offense will continue in the postseason.

U17 Midwest Conference

The Eclipse U17 team is the standard of the ECNL Midwest Conference: top of the table, multiple national team players, and countless awards over the years.

“We often judge ourselves by how we do against Eclipse,” said Michigan Hawks U17 coach Doug Landefeld. “We have a tremendous amount of respect for them.”

This year, Hawks split the season series with each team winning the home game. Eclipse holds the top spot in the standings due to a better point per game average, but Hawks have a one point lead with two extra games played.

“That U17 [Eclipse] team is a terrific team,” said Landefeld. “They have had a lot of success.”

Eclipse finished sixth in the national standings last year, while the Hawks ended the year one spot below the Illinois club.

“There is a bit of disappointment in getting to nationals last year and not doing as well as wanted there,” said Landefeld. “This group – they are high achievers.”

Landefeld added that there are some special players on this team, which has made it a national contender. At the top of the list in terms of talent on this U17 Hawks team is Summer Green.

Summer Green is as good as anybody in the country,” said Landefeld. “She has bailed us out in a couple games.”

Green is a member of the U17 national team program and has already given her verbal commitment to the University of North Carolina.

Chasing Eclipse and the Hawks in the standings is Minnesota Thunder, which is undefeated on the season, but has only played four games.

“Our girls play high school soccer, so we compact the rest of the season,” said Thunder head coach Mark Yueill. “It makes for a busy schedule, but it helps to stay on task and focus. There isn’t a two or three week break in our schedule once we start.”

Yueill’s team currently sits near the top of the national standings in Flight B, but with only two games played at that level there is still work to do.

“Our goal is to qualify for the national finals in the B Bracket, we think that is a realistic goal,” said Yueill.

The coach also talked about how the competition in this conference has helped his team, as it regularly faces some of the top teams in the nation for this age group.

Yueill also spoke about some of the stars of his Thunder U17 side in forward Jenna Roering and defender Kylie Schwarz.

Thunder returns to the field on February 11, when the Minnesota club will begin a stretch of 15 games in three months.

 
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