Sanford, Fla. – The ECNL Winter Showcase kicked off on Saturday morning at the Seminole Soccer Complex, including premier teams from across the country. The opening day featured wet and bleak conditions but, as expected, the talent shined bright on each pitch as Central Florida provided a battleground for the elite teams to square up against each other.
Below is a sampling of the action from Saturday. Stay tuned throughout the weekend for recaps from every day in Sanford.
MORE: Day 1 Top Performers
U15 PDA 3-0 CASL
In their first match of the Winter Showcase, PDA displayed their dominance from the opening whistle. Throughout the first half, Midfielders Alexa Ferreira and Margaret Roughley were at the helm of PDA’s attacking and defensive efforts and caused continuous problems for CASL on both ends of the field.
While thwarting each of CASL’s movements going forward, the midfield duo was equally impressive in their combination plays and created multiple opportunities for PDA attacking players Luciana Zullo and Michelle Giamportone.
However, PDA’s first real chance of the match would come when Defender Brianna Urbanski ventured down the right-hand-side and floated a dangerous ball to the back post. Zullo was on the end of Urbanski’s looping cross and nodded it down for Roughley who missed the target by mere inches.
As the match wore on, PDA would be rewarded for their persistent efforts when Giamportone went on a mission of her own in the 44th minute.
Giamportone, who came on as a substitute in the first half, received a well-placed pass from Ferreira and bullied her way past the first CASL defender in her path. After picking her head up, Giamportone used a bit of trickery to skip by the second defender before slotting the ball by the CASL goalkeeper to give her side a 1-0 lead heading into the break.
To begin the second half, PDA was brimming with confidence and continued to cause problems for CASL in all areas of the pitch. As a result, PDA would double their advantage midway through the second 45.
This time, however, PDA would convert from a set-piece after the referee awarded a free-kick in a threatening area. Urbanski took advantage of the opportunity and curled a beautiful effort in the top corner from 25 yards away to give PDA a 2-0 edge.
Nevertheless, CASL continued to attempt to fight their way back into the game and would come within inches of reducing the deficit. Claire Griffiths played Taylor Currie in behind the PDA defense but Currie pulled her final effort just wide of the post.
Moments later, PDA Midfielder Taylor Morgan pounced on an errant pass from the CASL defense and slotted it away to end the match with a 3-0 score line.
CASL is set to face FC Stars of Massachusetts on Sunday, while PDA will play FC Dallas.
U16 FC Stars of Massachusetts 2-2 FC Dallas
The opening match between FC Stars of Massachusetts and FC Dallas featured a back and forth affair.
Although FC Dallas began the match as the more organized side as a whole, it was FC Stars who took the lead first. After FC Dallas pushed numerous players forward in search of a goal, FC Stars responded on the counter with a deep ball in search of lethal Striker Rachel Kingston.
Kingston used her pace to receive the ball in the FC Dallas defensive third and was brought down in the box, causing the referee to point to the spot. Kingston stepped up to the spot and placed the ball into the bottom left corner in the 15th minute.
Despite the early goal from FC Stars, Dallas remained the dominant side throughout the first half and continued on their quest for an equalizer. Moments before the halftime whistle, in the 39th minute, Dallas would finally equalize after a tremendous sequence.
That sequence was created when Midfielder Addison McCain weaved her way past two FC Stars defenders before playing a one-two with Ashlan Hustava inside the 18-yard-box. After receiving the return pass from Hustava, McCain blasted the ball into the bottom corner to level the match.
However, moments later Kingston would respond with a powerful free-kick from 20 yards away to secure not only a brace but also a 2-1 lead for FC Stars of Massachusetts.
In the second half, FC Stars controlled the tempo of the match and Midfielder Sydney Brackett created several chances with blazing runs down the left-hand-side of the pitch. But FC Dallas would manage to equalize when McCain scored a penalty after the referee called a handball in the box.
After a series of continual attacks by both sides, neither club could find the back of the net, resulting in a 2-2 final score.