FC Wisconsin sent two teams to the Blue Chip Showcase in Cincinnati, OH this weekend, one of the top non-ECNL events in the Midwest for 3 games each and hoping for some warmer weather. While the temperatures didn’t exactly cooperate, the teams certainly had a fantastic event, finishing with only 1 loss in 6 games.
The U16/17 team competed 1 year up in the event, but still finished undefeated, with 2 ties against Canadian U17 teams and a 6-1 thumping of the NJ Stallions on the final day. The U15 team finished with a win, loss, and tie, showing great progress in many areas from the fall, and that their future is bright.
The U16/17s opened up against Canadian opponents Pickering SC, and dominated possession and chances from the opening minute. After 20 minutes of creating multiple opportunities to score and clearly bossing the game, the FC WI team was burned on a set-piece to fall behind 0-1. They rallied back almost immediately with a goal from Aryssa Mahrt on a nice series of passes to get to the endline and a calm assist from Emma Jaskaniec. The second goal came just before halftime when Mahrt returned the favor for a Jaskaniec finish that gave the team a 2-1 lead going into the break, though the lead should have been bigger and the sloppiness in the box would later be regretted. In the second half FC Wisconsin finally extended their advantage to 3-1 with more dominant play, and Bella Keegan scored her first goal for the club on a scrum in the box. The final 15 minutes provided some future learning opportunities, however, as the possession domination was broken up by a few good counters and some careless choices in build-up that cost 2 counter-attack goals and the lead. The 3-3 final was not reflective of the balance of the game, but a reminder that mistakes can be quickly punished despite few opportunities, and toughness in the penalty boxes is required in every game.
Day two featured the best match of the event, as the U16s faced U17 Canadian team Saltfleet Stoney Creek SC and more than a dozen collegiate commitments. In a match that featured both skill and some good physical challenges, FC Wisconsin went up 1-0 on a corner kick well served by Sydney Schaaf, met by a Rachel Dallet header that was saved on the goal line, and then ultimately finished by Emma Jaskaniec. Some good attacking play saw the Canadians equalize in the 30th minute and the teams went into the break notted at 1. The intensity of the match went up further in the second half, and Saltfleet took the lead on a shot from 25 yards in the 60th minute. Not to be deterred, FC Wisconsin equalized in the 75th minute on a nifty combination between Mahrt and Jaskaniec, created by some good team defending that led to a turn-over and Jaskaniec's second of the game. The final would stay 2-2, and both sides could feel good about the result. Emily Ehlert showed great composure throughout the game building from the back, and Gina Muzi provided a reinforcing presence from goal that showed her continuing growth as a keeper.
The U15s also faced a Canadian team on day 2 as they recorded a 2-1 win over Brams United. After being caught out by the blistering pace of one of the Canadian front-runners early and falling behind, with Anika Seem and Erin Hippo bossing the midfield, and great build-out play from Katrina Patscot and Maya Alberts from center back, the Wisconsin players kept the Canadians chasing for much of the first half. Maddie Luna found the equalizer just before half, and Jamie Mohs was unlucky not to add another before the break. The second half saw FC WI continue to show good attacking ideas, and Jordyn Jeffers and Lauren Davis both got forward from outside back to add to the pressure. The reward finally came in the 65th minute when Ava Stelter notched the winner.
The final day of the event saw the U16/17 team thump NJ Stallions from the opening whistle, with goals from Dallet (2), Jaskaniec (2), Keegan, and Tiana Gaubatz. The U15 team was unlucky to tie 0-0 against Ohio club TFA Elite, with Stelter hitting the post and Mohs with an unlucky miss early in the second half.
“Overall, the event was exactly what we were looking for in the spring season,” said Christian Lavers. “We saw a lot of progress from players on both teams in their understanding and decision-making in possession, and that translated into some really good sequences of play. At the same time, we were able to really identify a few areas where individual players can put in some extra work to take another step forward in their personal development, and some areas as a team where we need to understand the game deeper.”
The next spring program competition will be on Friday, May 5th when the U16/17 team faces Cardinal Stritch University at FC Wisconsin Soccer Park.