ECNL Boys South Carolina: NSG Recap

ECNL Boys South Carolina: NSG Recap
December 2, 2023
Players featured in this article:
Caden Berg |  2024
MF | Solar SC
F | Alabama FC
MF | Manhattan SC
D | Parkland SC (FL)
Ian Shuler |  2024
MF | Tophat
Ryan Walsh |  2025
MF | Beach FC (VA)
y a |  2024
MF | Columbus East FC

In front of over 500 scouts, the largest regular season National Event turnout ever for the ECNL Boys, the stars of ECNL South Carolina took the field at MeSA Soccer Complex on Friday night for the Continental Tire ECNL National Selection Game.

It did not take long for the West to strike on Friday. Ryan Walsh (Beach FC (VA)) found himself with a bit of space inside the box and fired a shot that hit off the crossbar and in to put the West on top 1-0.

Both sides continued to move the ball around very effectively and showed remarkable chemistry and cohesion for players that had largely never played together before.

In the 21st minute, the East responded to the West’s opening goal, when Arnold Reyes (Arlington Soccer) hit a shot that took a deflection and found its way into the back of the net to level things up.

Both teams continued to generate chances as the game progressed. Jhonn Padilla (Manhattan SC) narrowly missed a chance to put home a free kick from outside the box late in the first half, while one of the best chances from the East came midway through the second half on a shot from inside the box that just went past the post to keep the game tied at 1-1.

In the 66th minute, the West found the next goal, as Ian Shuler (NTH NASA) ripped a long range strike from well outside the box to make it 2-1 for the West.

The West then doubled their lead 10 minutes later as Valentino Della Grazia (STA) played a perfect pass in front of the net for Caden Berg (Solar SC) who slid it home to make it 3-1 West.

The West had one more great chance to add on to their lead when they were awarded a penalty, but East goalkeeper Carmine Ricciardi (Parkland Soccer Club) stepped up and made a diving save to keep the final score at 3-1 in favor of the West.

Following the game, Kyle Hunnicutt (Alabama FC) was named the Player of the Match. Hunnicutt had a tireless work rate throughout the game that helped spur the West’s offensive attack. Hunnicutt said the energy from the fans and the atmosphere really contributed to that endless effort he put forth throughout the match.

“With all the fans and the energy, it just got me boosted up and I just didn’t feel tired at all. I just wanted to score and run,” Hunnicutt said.

With two star studded rosters full of top players chosen from their clubs, Hunnicutt described what an honor it was to be selected for the Player of the Match out of all those great players.

"Everyone here was selected and to be selected out of all of them really means a lot,” Hunnicutt said.

Shuler, who scored the game winning goal, also discussed the team’s work rate after the game, saying it was a point of emphasis from the coaches and cited it as the key to the West’s success.

"Both coaches said our work rate would win us this game and I think we all played to our best ability and most importantly worked as hard as we could,” Shuler said. “Kyle played an excellent game. I’ve played against him for three years now and he always plays really well against us. He held the ball up well and put us in good spots to score.”

Hunnicutt added that the atmosphere and energy the crowd brought was like nothing else he had experienced. As he mentioned, not only did that help his work rate, but he also believes the game as a whole was quick and intense in large part due to that atmosphere everyone created.

“The quality of play was super fast, quick, and really intense,” Hunnicutt said. “It was like none other, especially with the fans and the environment. It definitely gets your heart racing.”

Trending Videos
IMG Academy Top 150 Rankings
see full ranking:
Boys Girls