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ECNL starts in Denver with a bang

Published: July 15, 2011

Aurora, Colorado – The feeling was electric. The atmosphere was highly charged. There were some shocks and zings.

And that was just the weather.

The ECNL National Championships got underway here Thursday and the matches had a little electricity in them as well, with the best clubs from around the country having managed to put together this elite year-long competition, which culminates at this event in a 3-day knockout round format for national championships in 4 age groups, plus a full slate of showcase games for college coaches and promotion relegation playoffs to determine final placement in the competition’s two flights for next season.

Play was delayed for quite a while in the afternoon due to a Rocky  Mountain-style thunderstorm, but these fields drain quite well and the opening day of play was completed in the evening. Semifinals in the knockout rounds are Friday and finals Saturday, along with a full schedule of play for all ECNL teams on both days.

Following are some feature match reports. Scroll down for results in the four age groups.

U15 Quarterfinal: Carmel United 1, PDA Slammers 0 (OT)

Katy Keen’s headed goal from a Reilly Martin cross in overtime lifted the Indianapolis-area team to a dramatic quarterfinal win.

The architects of the winning goal in the 2nd OT session were Carmel’s Reilly Martin and Katie Keen. Martin, dynamic in the attack all day with her strong running down the wing and excellent footskills, forced PDA goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan to make a tremendous save with a rasping 25-yard shot. On the resulting corner, Martin flew a ball to the far side of the 6-yard box where Keen directed a downward header into the back of the net for what would be the winning goal. PDA pressed for an equalizer and had a few chances in the remaining minutes, but Carmel hung on for the win with goalkeeper Maddie Logan alertly dealing with a couple of dangerous balls in front of her goal.

Logan and Catherine Schmidt had both done good work in the nets for Carmel, as had Brosnan and her accomplice in PDA goal thievery Casey Murphy. But with all the good goalkeeping and just one goal scored over 100 minutes of play, there was still some good attacking and defensive play on display in a match that was easily good enough to have been a national championship bout.

Mike O’Neill’s PDA side got excellent play in the back from Meghan MacDonald and Christine Monroy, while Caroline Chagares was very poised in midfield, while Natasha Ntone Kouo, Melissa Fichtner and Katie Cunningham were strong in attack.

For Carmel, a slick 1st-half passing move between Gabrielle LaMere and Madison Turner led to a piledriver from the edge of the area by Samantha Kokoska that took a highlight reel save from Murphy to prevent it from being a goal. Additionally, defender Kirsten Timmer and Mykayla Brown were stalwarts in the back for Ben Beasley’s team, which advances to the semifinal.

U16 Quarterfinal: Real So Cal 1, Eclipse Select 0

This match was a classic encounter featuring finesse, feats of strength and final-minute drama. In the end Kristy Walker’s Southern Californians were able to make an early goal from talented forward Ari Shipp hold up for a 1-0 victory over Mike Nesci’s Eclipse.

Here’s what Walker had to say about the hard-fought win.

For all the grit and battle, the winning goal showed some real attacking class on the part of Arielle Ship. The fleet-footed forward has a nice bag of tricks in the forward third and I asked her where that style came from.

While Ship’s lob of the goalkeeping was something special, she was supported ably in attack by fellow forwards Kristy Konkol Mroczkowski and Anna Dertouzos. It was Rachel Conners who played the ball to Ship on her goal, and she showed good ball skills on the day as well.

Other standouts on the day for the Southern Californians included agile goalkeeper Casey Cousineau, Miranda De La Vega in midfield, while Natalie Rivas served some dangerous balls from out wide.

For the Chicago-area side, they progressed during the match from being mainly dangerous via booming free kicks off the foot of outside back Taylor Schissler (who drive it on a line for at least 50 yards), to pressing a full-scale assault on the RSC goal during the 2nd half, despite ultimately being unable to break through.

One of their best attacking moments started with outside back Kara Morway playing a ball down the wing for the excellent Paige Jarsombeck, who did some good work near the end line and played a ball for Summer Schafer, who then redirected to Jackie Georgoulis, but her shot was held by RSC goalkeeper

Casey Cousineau. Cousineau also did well to deny a strong effort on goal from Paige Bendell. Eclipse also had some good play from Lauren Sajewich and the quick-footed Michelle Mottonen.

Full Thursday Results (courtesy ECNL)

U15 Age Group
Championship Bracket (Quarterfinals)
Carmel United 1, PDA Slammers 0 (OT)
West Coast FC 2, Mustang SC 1
Lonestar SC 3, Eclipse Select 2
Slammers FC 2, San Diego Surf 1

Promotion/Relegation Bracket
FC Dallas 5, Real Colorado 2
San Juan SC 0, Atlanta Fire United 0

Showcase Matches
Sting Dallas 3, St. Louis Scott Gallagher 1
D’Feeters 2, Albertson Fury 0
Stars of Mass 4, Charlotte Soccer Academy 1
FC Bucks 5, CASL 2
Michigan Hawks 1, Bethesda SC 0
FC Milwaukee 8, Virginia Rush 2
Colorado Rush 3, Ohio Elite 0
Crossfire Premier 2, Arsenal FC 0

U16 Age Group
Championship Bracket (Quarterfinals)
Concorde Fire 2, Scorpions SC  0
CASL 5, Michigan Hawks 3
Real So Cal 1, Eclipse Select 0
FC Virginia 2, Real  Colorado 1

Promotion/Relegation Bracket
San Juan SC 4, Freestate SA 1
CESA Premier 4, Sereno SC 0

Showcase Matches
SoccerPlus CT 2, Pleasanton Rage 1
SC Del Sol 2, Birmingham United 0
Atlanta Fire United 1, St. Louis Scott Gallagher 0
Ohio Elite 0, Virginia Rush 0
Stars of Mass 1, Minnesota Thunder 0
Albertson Fury 4, Neusport FC 1
FC Dallas 3, FC Milwaukee 1
Utah Avalanche 2, Irvine Strikers 1
Washington Premier 1, West Coast SC 0

U17 Age Group
Championship Bracket (Quarterfinals)
Solar SC 4, Challenge SC 3
Stars of Mass 3, Mustang SC 2
San Diego Surf 2, Minnesota Thunder Academy 1
PDA 4, Albertson Fury 1

Promotion/Relegation Bracket
Showcase Matches

CASL 1, Michigan Hawks 0
Eclipse Select 2, San Juan SC 2
Arsenal FC 3, KCFC Alliance 0
Real So Cal 3, Real Colorado 0
Sting Dallas 1, Slammers FC 1

U18 Age Group
Championship Bracket (Quarterfinals)
SC Del Sol 2, Bethesda 3
Eclipse Select 2, San Diego Surf 1
Lonestar 3, Ohio Premier Eagles 2
Stars of Mass 1, KCFC 6
Promotion/Relegation Bracket
Showcase Matches

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