On October 18 and 19th, FC WI Eclipse ECNL teams returned to the comfortable environments of home to continue their battle through the ECNL's best conference. Through 10 total games on the weekend for the 5 ECNL teams, almost every game was a one goal game or a draw - showing again the parity and depth in the Midwest.
On Saturday, the club faced off against St. Louis Scott Gallagher - Illinois, while Sunday's games were against Sporting Blue Valley (KS). Both fixtures were the final match-ups of the season between the clubs.
U14: W 2-1, T 1-1
The U14s started the weekend with a spark and a come-from-behind 2-1 win. After conceding on a corner kick goal early in the second half, the team responded with a great corner kick goal from Maddie Fahey before Emma Jaskaniec hit a 25 yard blast to win the game in the 75th minute. Aryssa Mahrt was consistently dangerous and impactful in midfield and attack, and the entire team showed a much higher collective mentality to defend and challenge for 50/50 balls.
Against Sporting, the U14s looked to respond to their only ECNL loss to date - a drubbing last weekend from Sporting. The U14s took the lead early, but again conceded a corner kick goal to settle for a tie. In any event, it was a significant improvement from 7 days prior - showing how much impact mentality and physicality have on high level soccer.
U15: L 1-3, L 1-4
The U15s had the toughest task of the weekend, playing two games without a goalkeeper due to a concussion suffered by Lexi Bullis earlier in the week. Despite this massive hole in the team, they battled exceptionally well through both games. The team held a 1-0 lead on SLSG-IL until the 60th minute, when SLSG equalized and took the lead - in large part due to the lack of a proper goalkeeper for Eclipse. (ECNL rules do not allow players to play in 2 games in 1 day for performance and health reasons.) Against Sporting, the score was tied at 1-1 at halfitme before similar difficulties in goal, despite valiant efforts, eventually took their price.
The team was led by great defending from the new center back pairing of Sierra Koch and Camryn Hart, and an active physical presence in midfield by Steph Fronczak. Sydney Schaaf and Cayla Provan played up as outside backs and were similarly consistent. Emma Roemer and Maddie Frey spearheaded an attack that is becoming more dangerous week by week.
U16: T 1-1, T 1-1
The U16s played 160 minutes to identical scores in back-to-back games, with similar themes in both games. Both goals conceded by the U16s were corner kicks - again showing the team's difficulty in embracing the necessity of consistently challenging airballs. After a Mikaela Hoard opener staked FC WI Eclipse to a 1-0 lead, the equalizer from SLSG-IL came very late in the 78th minute, but SLSG was knocking on the door with a regular bombardment of crosses prior to that. Despite dominating the second half, Sporting didn't break the seal until late as well - only to concede an almost immediate equalizer from Taylor Kerwin. Kristina Barczak and Katy Slater were consistent in defense in both games.
U17: L 0-1, L 0-1
The scorelines for both games for the U17s this weekend are showing a frustratingly common theme in the season. Through the weekend, the team has dropped 6 conference games by one goal - and many by the same 1-0 scoreline. There have been chances a-plenty for the team to take leads but they have been spurned, and the few errors in the back have been cruelly punished by the opponent. At the same time, the corner kick goal - last year's consistent savior - has disappeared. The technical level of the team neads to improve in all areas of the field to match the competitive mentality they have consistently shown. When execution improves a notch in every position, results will begin to show again.
U18: T 0-0, L 0-1
The U18s had a bright weekend, and were unlucky not to take 3 points from SLSG-IL. Allison Jacobson hit the crossbar and the post, and the team created a few other high quality chances but could not punch through a resilient SLSG-IL defense. Against Sporting, almost any result would have been fair - as the teams traded punches for 180 minutes. A high quality combination play goal from Sporting was just enough for them to take the points.
The fatigue of playing high speed, physical, and technical games in the ECNL day-in and day-out is tremendous. Playing 4 games over 9 days stretches every ECNL club in the country, and this weekend's upcoming single match against Sockers FC - Chicago will be a chance for some recovery for the teams.
From a club that struggled to be competitive in the 2011 season, FC Wisconsin Eclipse has now proven the ability to compete with every club in the ECNL Midwest Conference. The tremendous training ethic and determination that has marked the club's and every player's improvement over this period will continue to mark this rise, slowly turn one-goal losses to ties, and ties to one-goal wins. The future is bright; the challenge is high; the culture is ready!
Come see the teams play Sockers FC - Chicago this Sunday, as the ECNL homestand continues!