SOMERSET, N.J. — Rain may have interrupted the first day of action at the ECNL National Event in New Jersey, but there was little threat of precipitation on a beautiful Sunday for soccer.
MORE: ECNL NJ Day 1 top performers | ECNL day 1 recap | Day 2 top performers | Scoreboard
Teams trudged back out on the field, making a run at final playoff spots, or simply looking to stay sharp ahead of Seattle.
Here’s a look at some of the action from Sunday:
U16: Mustang SC 1, Eclipse Select SC 0
Possessing a potent attack spearheaded by Zoe Redei, Alyssa Gorzak and Marissa Bosco – to name a few – Eclipse Select SC ran into a red brick wall in the form of a Mustang SC defense, which stymied the Chicagoland side and secured a 1-0 win from a second half, wind-assisted set piece.
That’s not to say Mustang SC weren’t worthy winners, of course. In a back and forth morning battle neither offense found much in the form of time or space in the opposition opposing third.
Eclipse’s defensive duo of Rebecca Koch and Hannah Marwede coped with the speed of Mustang attackers Miranda Jimenez and Jordyn Cunningham, save for the second half sequence. On the other side of the ball, Rachel Speros and Colby Parker were a formidable defense that couldn’t be solved by Eclipse, while Kaylie Collins made a few second half saves to keep it scoreless.
The winning goal was aided by a blowing wind, as Parker’s high, curling corner kick service into a sea of bodies bounced around in the six-yard box and into the back of the net.
Marwede had perhaps the best chance to deliver the equalizing goal from a direct free kick three yards outside of the 18-yard box, but her rasping drive was saved by Collins, and the Mustang defense cleared their lines, eventually holding on for the victory.
U15: Ohio Elite Soccer Academy 3, Scorpions SC 2
With the sun blazing down in the mid-afternoon, Ohio Elite and Scorpions SC pushed through the conditions to string together an exciting ending to a competitive game.
Ohio Elite could have been well out in front early in the first half, as the Scorpion back line struggled to cope with the skill of forward Abby McNamara. If not for a few timely interventions in front of the Scorpions goal, the high-scoring forward could have had a hat trick before the half was up. Scorpions were rewarded for their defensive work, as Elizabeth Weimer opened the scoring off of a rebound.
McNamara finally got her goal before the half. A driven cross eluded the Scorpion center backs, and McNamara corralled the ball and poked it home to tie the game 1-1. Before the half, Ohio took the lead, as Mikayla Hampton's persistence on a bouncing ball in the box paid off, as she beat the Scorpion defense to put Ohio in front.
Early on in the second half, McNamara scored again, as a through ball from midfield found her in space, she rounded the 'keeper and made it 3-1. A late goal from Scorpions Eve Hawkins ensured for a nervy finish, though Ohio Elite managed the game out and emerged with the win.
U16: PDA 4, Charlotte Soccer Academy 2
A scoring rampage from Frankie Tagliaferri helped PDA to a 4-2 win against Charlotte Soccer Academy.
While Tagliaferri – playing up a year at the U16 age level – had her finishing boots on, scoring a hat trick in sublime fashion, it was her teammate Mackenzie Wright’s opening goal of the day that set the tone for the match. A bounce ball fell to Wright’s feet at the top of the box, and she obliged by striking a perfect, upper-90 shot that gave PDA a 1-0 lead.
Tagliaferri grabbed the next two goals, showcasing her ability and instincts in and around the box. Emily Nelson led the charge for Charlotte as they tried to claw their way back into the game, eventually pulling one back to make it 3-1. But after that Tagliaferri secured her hat trick by pouncing on a rebound, an even more important tally when Charlotte’s Emily Hilliard-Arce tallied in the final ten minutes.
U16: So Cal Blues 4, Penn Fusion 0
An early goal set the tone for So Cal Blues, as they controlled most of the game on the way to a 4-0 win against Penn Fusion.
Forwards Summer Mason, Sierra Crawford and midfielder Hanna Watkins were the main engineers of So Cal’s strong play in the final third, while Machaela George marshaled the midfield, sitting in front of the back four and connecting play all over the field.
U17: Mustang SC 2, Maryland United FC 0
Two early set piece goals from Miranda Nild were enough for Mustang FC, as the California side topped their Maryland United opposition.
Nild pounced in the game’s first five minutes, as she was first to a ball pinballing in and around the penalty area, smashing home the opener into the roof of the net. She struck again from a set piece, as neither side created clear-cut opportunities from the run of play.
As the second half progressed, Maryland found their way into the game, as the dynamic attacking abilities of Jade Jamison and Taylor Love looked ominous down the flanks. However, Mustang SC held firm, thanks in part to the play of right back Sarah Arnaudon, who was playing up from the U14 side.
U15: Maryland United FC 1, FC Bucks 0
A goal from the speedy Kori Locksley was all that Maryland United FC needed, edging regional rivals FC Bucks. The goal was well deserved, as Locksley’s pace troubled the PA club’s back line through most of the day.
FC Bucks had its chances before the goal, missing early from a set piece, while defender Shannon Coleman had an opportunity to open the scoring, though was denied by the Maryland United goalkeeper.