Second Time’s The Charm

Earlier this season, Indiana Fire U14 and SLSG Navy U14 competed against each other, with Indiana Fire walking away with the victory. When the two sides met once again in South Carolina Saturday morning, that previous meeting was at the forefront of the players’ minds. 

For SLSG Navy, it was exactly the motivation they needed. 

“They smashed us earlier in the year,” said Scott McDoniel, SLSG Navy’s head coach. “Our girls were thinking about that and wanted to show them that’s not who we really were.”

The St. Louis team scored two goals within the opening 10 minutes, both coming off set pieces and both being scored in nearly identical ways. Sydney Welsh scored first, as she capitalized on a long corner kick service, catching the pass and immediately putting it just past the far post and into the net. Molly Moissis quickly followed by also converting on a pass from a corner kick to the back post. 

“We work on set pieces and we have a couple of players that like the ball in the air,” McDoniel said. “We’re not afraid to use those weapons at times and there were a couple of special plays today.”

SLSG continued to dominate possession and control the pace of play and was rewarded with the third goal of the first half. Katherine Kozeny separated from the Fire defense for a breakaway and rocketed a shot on net. The Indiana netminder managed to get a glove on the shot, but it wasn’t enough as the ball found its way to the back of the net. 

Even with a 3-0 lead heading into the second half, SLSG was not content with sitting back and draining the clock. The team continued to press, but as the second half wore on, Indiana Fire slowly flipped the field in their favor. 

Midway through the half, Indiana Fire put themselves on the board, also scoring off a corner kick. The SLSG goalkeeper attempted to catch the corner service, but the ball slipped through her hands and Reese Sochacki was right there waiting to capitalize on the miscue. 

One goal is all SLSG would allow though, firmly closing the door on any Indiana Fire comeback and at the final whistle, exacted revenge with a 3-1 victory. 

“We’re playing some awesome teams; Indiana is super talented,” McDoniel said. “I was really happy with the spirit of our girls and the way they approached the game. And I want us to continue to find that rhythm and continue to build momentum as we head into the last few league games. Approach those games as we did this one today and just really enjoy this weekend, because the competition is just so great. It’s fun to watch the kids grow because they’re being challenged.”

Home Sweet Home

National Events like ECNL South Carolina succeed because teams from all over the country come to one facility to play similar competition and continue individual and club development. 

The host club, however, trades traveling for welcoming every club to their home fields. For ECNL South Carolina, that is CESA

The CESA U14s opened the tournament with a 4-4 draw against PDA White and played East Meadow SC to a 0-0 draw Saturday afternoon. Throughout the contest, both clubs had scoring chances primarily through set pieces, but each time, the backline and goalkeeper stood strong. Possession was key, as each side attempted to break through with play down the touchlines, but with each try, a defender was there to make the stop. 

CESA Head Coach Cole Atkins said the two games so far at ECNL South Carolina were very different from each other, and that Saturday was more reflective of how his squad can play. 

“Yesterday was wild and a rollercoaster; today I think was a pretty fair result,” Atkins said. “Both teams were organized. Overall, I think today was a better performance. We can be better in the final third and make better decisions, and if we do that, I think we can end the showcase on a high note.”

It’s also important for Atkins’ team to be able to show everyone else at ECNL their facility and to be able to share it with the league and its teams. 

“We feel really lucky to have this facility in the first place,” Atkins said. “To be able to go home and sleep in our own beds, and then to come to where we practice every day and play such meaningful games, it’s special.”