ECNL FLORIDA – CLUB COMPETITION DAY 3 RECAP: UNFINISHED BUSINESS
Last season, SUSA FC was riding high. The club finished with an undefeated 13-0-3 record, and drew into the top spot in Group F in the U17 Champions League for the ECNL National Playoffs.
Unfortunately for the club, the team went 2-0-1 in Playoffs and fell just short of the knockout round.
Now in their last season of ECNL play, the club is determined to finish the job.
“We didn’t lose a game last year, but unfortunately we weren’t able to advance in Champions League,” said JR Balzarini. “The girls left Florida last year disappointed, but determined to show they can play with anyone.”
This year, SUSA’s U18/19 club has started off strong once again. The team has won all four of its games in conference play, allowing just one goal in the process. And while at ECNL Florida – Club Competition, it’s a chance to face new competition and truly test the squad against some of the best teams in the country.
Friday, SUSA earned a big win against NC Fusion to start the showcase, and followed it up with another victory against Crossfire Premier Sunday. It set up a chance on Sunday to continue the club’s stellar run of play and finish the showcase undefeated when the club faced off against Albion Hurricanes FC.
The two clubs opened the game with a back and forth affair, but it was SUSA who got on the board first. Gianna Savella ripped a shot that beat the AHFC keeper to give the Northeast side a 1-0 lead.
With the lead, SUSA continued to push for another goal, while AHFC was aiming for the equalizer. Both sides traded chances, but it was AHFC who broke through, tying the game at 1-1.
As the game wore on, both SUSA and AHFC continued to punch and counterpunch, looking for any way to get the go-ahead tally. Throughout the second half, each side did their best, but couldn’t solve the other’s defense. That was, however, until the 80th minute.
AHFC committed a foul nearly 30 yards out, setting up a prime scoring chance for SUSA. Brooke Herber stepped up and with ice in her veins, launched a rocket into the back of the net, giving SUSA the 2-1 lead and ultimately, the win.
The win capped off a perfect weekend for SUSA FC and continued a nearly two-year run of undefeated play for SUSA’s U18/19 team. But they learned last year nothing is given, and are focused on finishing the job this year.
“This age group is loaded with so many great teams,” Balzarini said. “Our goal is to meet them in Seattle come June. ECNL Florida was a great event and a great test for us to show how we measure up against those teams. We’re excited to try again for a national title and show we can play with anyone.”
Connecticut FC’s U16 squad was still searching for their first win of ECNL Florida – Club Competition. The club faltered in their opening match against Utah Avalanche and then drew GSA on Sunday. Up Monday was Sporting Blue Valley, with one last chance for a victory.
From the opening minutes, CFC was determined to get their win. The side pushed early, establishing their attack and getting chances. After multiple looks, Presley Sutter broke through, giving her side a 1-0 lead. Before the end of the half though, Sporting Blue Valley evened the score at 1-1, thanks to a tally from Grace Vest.
In the second half, Faith Graziano, bringing her experience from two National Selection Games, gave CFC the 2-1 lead. Primed for their first win of the weekend, Connecticut FC held on, locking down the Sporting Blue Valley attack and walked away with the 2-1 win.
“It was a total team effort in the win today,” said Todd Plourde, Connecticut FC Director of Coaching. “It was great to end the weekend on a high note with a win. The event was fantastic too with the amount of college coaches in attendance too. Great weather, great games and a great atmosphere.”