ECNL HOUSTON DAY 3 RECAP: HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT
The best part about national events like ECNL Houston is being able to play teams that are outside your conference. Sometimes that team is just a few states over, while others can be on the completely different coast. And on the rarest of occasions, that team will also be at the top of their conference.
That’s what happened on Field 6 Monday afternoon when the Southeast-leading GSA battled with the top-ranked team in the Northwest Pacific Division, Crossfire Premier, in the U17 age group.
Coming into the match, both Crossfire Premier and GSA had a win and a loss, setting up Monday’s matchup as the last chance to leave Houston with a winning record.
Crossfire Premier exuded that desire early in the match, jumping out to a rather significant advantage in scoring chances and possession, testing the GSA back line early and often. GSA could counter with a scoring chance of their own here and there, but after every GSA attack, Crossfire Premier would regroup and send another wave forward. The squad’s best chance of the half came in the 30th minute, when a shot rang off the left post but was corralled by the GSA keeper before the rebound could be banged home.
GSA generated a few scoring chances to end the first half, but Crossfire Premier steadily held possession. However, with a 0-0 score through the opening 45 minutes, it was still anyone’s game.
Coming out of the second half, it was GSA’s turn to push their opponent back on their heels. The Atlanta-based club came out swinging, immediately putting shots on net and forcing the Crossfire Premier keeper to make saves. Crossfire Premier weathered the storm and settled into the half, setting up a brief stretch of midfield play.
The game’s deadlock was finally broken In the 68th minute, when GSA pushed the ball forward and got a throw-in on the left side of the pitch. On the restart, the ball found its way to Sarah Greiner in the middle of the pitch, who turned and ripped a shot into the back of the net for the game’s first score and to give GSA a 1-0 lead.
Now armed with a lead, GSA gained confidence with the ball and controlled the pace of play as the half wound down. With every attempt by Crossfire Premier to even the score, the GSA defense held strong and kept the ball far away from its net, waiting to capitalize whenever possible. In the 84th minute, GSA was able to add insurance.
After a clear from the GSA defense, the Crossfire Premier goalkeeper attempted to reset the team’s attack, but her pass was intercepted by Greiner. Greiner cut into the middle of the pitch and placed a perfect shot into the bottom-left corner, securing the 2-0 win for the club.
GSA’s 2-0 win was the team’s only clean sheet of the weekend and now set up a perfect chance for the club to build off the positives from ECNL Houston and continue their first-place pace to a regular-season title and a spot in the ECNL Champions League.
“Closing out the weekend with a win and clean sheet just demonstrates the grit and determination of our squad,” said GSA forward Vienna Lundstedt. “We know we can make a deep run at a national title this summer, but it will take lots of focus and a huge amount of hard work.”
To view the complete scores and schedules from ECNL Houston, click here.