On Sunday, July 31, 2011, the first and only national championship ever won by a youth team in Wisconsin was captured by the Under-18 FC Milwaukee girls, in a 4-2 overtime win over Colorado Rush in the desert of Phoenix, AZ.
The historic accomplishment of that 2011 team proved that, in the proper training environment, with the right culture and mentality, Wisconsin youth soccer players could compete against, and beat, the very best teams and players in the country. The championship win was the capstone of a 2-year turn-around for a team that failed to win Wisconsin State Cup as Under-16s, only to finish as the best team in the country as Under-18s.
The championship was significant for another reason – 2011 was the final year that the top players and teams in the country competed in the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series. The very next year, these elite teams and players all over the country stopped competing in State Cup, the Regional Championships and Regional Leagues, and the USYS National Championship Series to focus solely on competition in the Elite Clubs National League. The change in the competitive landscape was monumental. At the primary ECNL age groups, U15-U18, every 2011 USYS Midwest Regional Champion, 7 of the 8 championship game participants, and 13 of the 16 semi-finalist teams left the competition for the ECNL in 2012. The US Youth Championships have never been the same, with the elite teams in the country competing for a new title – ECNL National Champion.
In the same way, the coaches of that 2011 team also did something new in 2012. Head coach Christian Lavers and goalkeeper coach Hideki Nakada, along with coach Monica Cieslak, founded FC Wisconsin Eclipse in 2012 to make sure that the next generation of Wisconsin players would have the opportunity to chase the same dream – to compete against and beat the top teams and players in the country. FC Wisconsin Eclipse is now providing this opportunity for today’s aspiring players in the ECNL – and the players in the club are learning to follow in the footsteps of the 2011 champions.
Thank you to the current players at FC Wisconsin Eclipse for having the courage to set your sights high, and thank you to the 2011 champions that showed everyone that Wisconsin’s best can also be the country’s best.
The 2011 National Champions:
Chloe Bares, Nicole Condit, Maggie Edlebeck, Valerie Gonyo, Monica Gonyo, Justine Hovden, Jacie Jermier, Gabby Kailas, Mary Luba, McKenna Meuer, Dana Robertson, Olivia Tehan, Mady Vicker, Carly Vogel, Brittany VonRueden, Cara Walls.