ECNL GIRLS NATIONAL PLAYOFFS DAY 1 RECAP: PKS FOR DAYS
PKs For Days
At the ECNL National Playoffs, every team is going out on the pitch with their very best, laying everything on the line. During the regular season, every game is competitive, and that rings even more true when the matches are played at the highest stakes.
During the first day of the ECNL National Playoffs in Seattle, nearly every time slot featured multiple games where the score was still tied after the full 90 minutes of play. And for those teams competing in the North American Cup, Showcase Cup A or Showcase Cup B, there are no draws. To determine who advances and continues their quest for the Cup, those two teams battle it out in penalty kicks.
Competing in the Showcase Cup A, Heat FC and Richmond United put on a defensive clinic. Throughout the first 90 minutes of play, both sides did their best to solve the opposing defense and keeper, but to no avail. Even with close calls and good offensive build-up, both Heat FC and Richmond United were blanked in regulation, and headed to PKs tied 0-0.
“We’ve been speaking the last few weeks about being together when we walk across that white line for a game, and I think that really showed today,” said Richmond United coach Greg Boehme said. “Across the 90 minutes today, we had blocked shots, last-ditch tackle, and goal-line clearances, really grinding through a tight, difficult match.”
Then came the battle of attrition.
Trading goals, saves and missed chances, Heat FC and Richmond United were even through the first five shooters. And it was still tied after six. And then seven, eight and nine as well.
Finally, in the 10th round of the shootout, Richmond put a shot past the Heat FC goalkeeper, and they could not answer, sending United into the next round of the Showcase Cup A.
“Every player bought in and played their role, and that helped us get the win today,” Boehme said. “Incredibly proud of the team. Heat FC played a really strong game today too and to go all the way until the 10th round of a shootout is a credit to both sides. I’m proud of our group for taking the first step in the Showcase Cup A, and now our full attention turns to our next game.”
Champions League Cupset
At this time of year, anything can happen on the pitch, especially when it’s playoffs. In the U18/19 Champions League bracket, there were fireworks at the top of the bracket.
Top-seeded Real Colorado National headed to Seattle undefeated and matched up against a tough DKSC squad that finished second in the Texas Conference. In a game of different playing styles, it became one for the ages.
After nearly 90 minutes of play, DKSC had hung around all game with Real Colorado National. Even though the Texas side trailed 1-0, it certainly had its chances. As the game headed to stoppage time, DKSC got one last chance to tie the game and potentially send it to penalty kicks.
DKSC earned itself a free-kick just outside the 18-yard box, knowing it was now or never to even the game up. Rather than taking a direct shot, DKSC sent a low service into the box, where Ella Morgan dove to get a head on the ball. Her header went to the bottom right corner of the net, pushing the contest into PKs.
In the shootout, DKSC continued their magic, out-dueling Real Colorado National to advance to the quarterfinals of the Champions League bracket, knocking out the No. 1 seed in the process.
“It’s definitely a tremendous feeling to knout out the No. 1 seed, especially coming from behind,” said DKSC Head Coach Hugh Bradford. “We came into today’s game knowing we had nothing to lose, and that if we wanted to get a positive result, we had to stay disciplined and ready to fight for 90 minutes. We did that. We stuck to our game plan and never gave up, and it paid off in the end. Great team effort and I’m happy for our girls, but now we turn our attention to tomorrow’s game.”
To view the complete scores and schedules for the ECNL Playoffs, click here.