RICHMOND, Virginia — The Dallas Sting U17 side entered the postseason as the top-ranked team in its age group. And the juggernaut showed no signs of slowing its push for a title on Sunday.
The Sting brushed aside GSA with terrifying ease on the opening day of the ECNL Finals, romping to a 4-0 victory to open group play with a resounding high note. The win put the Sting on a gild-edged track to Thursday’s championship game, with games left against So Cal Blues and cross-town rival Dallas Texans. Goals from Kaycie Tillman, Julie James and a brace from Mimi Asom guided the rout.
The Sting have a mammoth bullseye on their backs based on their play in the regular season and then a rampant performance at regionals in Seattle to book their spot in Richmond. Based on their performance Sunday, they aren’t slowing down.
Dallas Sting got off to a quick start when Tillman got in behind the defense within the first minute and whipped off a shot that stung the crossbar. That set the tone for a game the Sting thoroughly dominated from start to finish. Despite the presence of YNT stalwart forward and GSA striker Jennifer Westendorf, the Sting were able to choke off the GSA midfield and then scheme Westendorf out of the game. She never had much of an impact.
More ECNL coverage: Day 1 standouts
Dallas Sting, however couldn’t be suppressed. They raided forward continually, and Tillman’s near-goal within the games opening attack was only a precursor for the game’s tenor.
About 15 minutes into the game, Gwenyth Puente skittered through a bevy of challenges before laying off a cross that hit Asom in stride for the opener. About 10 minutes later, Asom polished another chance for her second goal to give the Sting a hammerlock on the game at 2-0 well before halftime.
GSA wasn’t able to stem the tide, and Dallas Sting kept coming. With about 20 minutes left, Puente managed to get in behind the defense again, and this time she set up Tillman for her second assist and a commanding 3-0 lead. Finally, imperious midfielder Julie James managed to get in for the final goal on a header off a perfectly placed cross to make the final scoreline impressive. Now, Dallas Sting is in the driver’s seat after the Texans eked out a 1-0 win over So Cal Blues.
San Diego Surf U15 1-0 De Anza Force U15
A bizarre game got a bizarre scoreline, with the top-heavy Surf surging ahead of the largely dominance Force to open up their group with an earthquaking result.
The game was still in the feeling-out stages when the Surf, just eight minutes into the contest, found the opening tally. Top recruit Catarino Macario blasted home a perfectly taken free kick from 20 yards that bent over the wall and settled inside the far post for a 1-0 lead. If the fans in attendance figured that goal would set the tone for the rest of the match, they’d have been dead wrong.
In fact, it was the Surf’s only shot on goal of the first half and just one of two from the entire match. De Anza Force positively dominated proceedings, soaking up the lion’s share of possession and enjoying almost every substantive chance in the match. But none of it came to anything. The rooted defense from the Surf stood up to every challenge, and the effort from keeper Savannah Madden was without peer on the day.
The Force worked primarily through the middle via its stable of attacking midfielders, but the Surf did yeomen’s work clearing off chance after chance. That will give the team a massive matchup with Real Colorado, which topped Albertson Fury to push those two sides into battle for the right to advance from the group.
Real Colorado U16 4-0 PDA U16
Just a month ago, the PDA U18 side won its second title in as many seasons. That raised the bar for the entire program, but the PDA U16s had the unenviable task of running into one of the hottest teams in the league. Even with U20 Women’s National Team player Mallory Pugh in camp in Seattle, Real Colorado still smashed its way into first in the group.
Real Colorado got off to a shockingly quick start when Alyssa Kaiser scored in the opening minute, and a tally from Alexa Groesser just 15 minutes later set Real Colorado on the path to 4-0. With or without Pugh. A match against Eclipse, which also won on Sunday, looms large.
So Cal Blues 1-1 PDA
West Coast FC 0-0 Texas Rush
Albertson Fury 0-1 Real Colorado
San Diego Surf 1-0 De Anza Force
Real Colorado 4-0 PDA
San Diego Surf 1-3 Eclipse Select
Dallas Sting 2-1 FC Dallas
Slammers FC 1-1 Dallas Texans
GSA 0-4 Dallas Sting
Dallas Texans 1-0 So Cal Blues
West Coast FC 0-0 Eclipse Select
San Diego Surf 4-1 PDA