ECNL Boys Florida: That's a wrap

ECNL Boys Florida: That's a wrap
by ECNL
January 26, 2022

Florida West and Minnesota Thunder Academy met Monday morning at ECNL Florida – Club Competition in each team’s final match of the showcase. The result was an instant classic that was one of the best games of the entire weekend. 

From the opening whistle, both squads went right at each other. There was plenty of midplay, which also resulted in physical play, as each team made sure the other had to fight for every inch. As the teams settled into the contest, the physical play did not let up, and in the 15th minute, that physicalness provided a key moment in the match. 

Florida West had owned a majority of the possession through the opening minutes of the half, and their attack caused Minnesota Thunder to commit a foul in the box, leading to a penalty. Florida West called on Ricardo Luis for the penalty kick, and on his shot, he chose the bottom right corner. Minnesota Thunder’s goalkeeper Jack Roach dove to his left, making the save, and then made a kick save on the rebound to keep the score even at 0-0. 

Roach’s saves gave Minnesota Thunder an energy boost, but Florida West continued to hold possession and dictate the pace of the game. For every Minnesota clear and counter, Florida West came back in waves, trying to erode the Thunder’s backline. 

But as much as they tried, neither side could find a goal, and headed into halftime knotted at 0-0. 

“In the first half, we were struggling to finish,” said Dylan Salomon. “We were having a lot of possession, getting chance after chance after chance. But we couldn’t score.”

Thanks to some adjustments during the break, it was Minnesota Thunder’s turn to amp up its attack. Minnesota pressed hard and brought numbers forward, and started earning a majority of the scoring chances. They tested the Florida West goalkeeper, forcing Leo Adranga to come up with key saves, and he did just that. 

The second half marched on, and each side traded chances. Minnesota would get a dangerous look with a free-kick, and Florida West would come down to the other end, earn a corner, which would be cleared for a Minnesota Thunder counterattack. Back and forth, back and forth, neither side relenting nor giving the impression of being content with a draw. 

With less than 10 minutes left in the half, Florida West earned its best scoring chance of the morning to that point. Salomon split the Minnesota defense and had a great look on net. He quickly ripped a shot on net, but the goalkeeper dove just enough to push it away from the net and out of bounds. 

It seemed the match was destined to be a draw. But then in the 85th minute, the game’s lone goal final materialized. 

Racing down the left side of the pitch, Florida West’s Alejandro Zunigz put a shot on net that was saved by Minnesota, but the rebound bounced into the middle of the pitch. Salomon saw the loose ball and pounced, one-touching a shot into the back of the net. With just minutes left in the match, he played hero, giving Florida West the 1-0 lead. 

“My teammate laid up the shot and I just jumped on the ball for the rebound,” Salomon said. “It felt great to see that ball go in. Felt like I scored in a World Cup Final.”

In those ensuing minutes, Florida West clamped down on its defense until the final whistle, giving the club its first clean sheet and second win of ECNL Florida – Club Competition. 

Following the showcase, Florida West will look to build on its momentum and carry that into league play. Sitting just 0.04 point percentage outside of first place and a spot in the Champions League, good results this weekend is key for laying the groundwork for a potential playoff and championship run. 

Image Credit: ECNL Boys Twitter

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