The FCNova U13G PreECNL group travelled to Vegas this past weekend and actually competed. For most Idaho clubs, looking to compete in December and January is very difficult given the weather, lack of lighted field space (which Nova is the only club in the valley with a lighted field) and access to proper training preparation/matches. The opening day game was an effect of just some of those factors, but really in the end excuses that FC Nova chooses to avoid.
Playing versus one of the top PACNW clubs in Eastside FC, Nova U13G PreECNL were able to go up on a Haley Apple free kick that fooled the goalkeeper and went through her legs for a 1-0 lead. Eastside FC, the current undefeated leaders in the 2013/14 USYouth Northwest Far West Regional League, came back strong capitalizing off of a Nova goalkeeper error for an open goal put away. EFC scored latein the game to take home the 2-1 victory to open the U13G Western College Development Association (WCDA) showcase play. U13G Head Coach and FCNova Director of Coaching, Eric Simmonsen stated, "Could we use the factors of no 11v11 games under our belts for 2-3 months, snow, limited trainings, out of game shape as excuse? Sure! But we choose not to do that as we could have won that game with discipline and focus. Maybe too soon to ask, but we love challenge. Eastside is a top 4 NW area club. Great to have competition and establish targets for us moving forward."
Saturday evening, FCNova dialed it in and found their rhythm on the turf fields at Kellogg-Zaher Complex against a strong Crossfire Oregon squad. With 2 first half goals via Kayla Soto, the group went into halftime with travel legs gone and flying high. The second half Crossfire Oregon made a bit of a comeback with a great streak far post upper corner to narrow the lead to 2-1. But with the cohesion starting to flow, Juliet Grech and Madison Carter both scored to end the game at 4-1 in Nova's favor.
Sunday morning the girls faced a hometown group in Downtown Vegas SC. A club on the rise in the Vegas area, Downtown SC were cold in the 51' degree 8am kickoff with gloves, under armor and leggings. Maybe the advantage of kids willing to train at night, in 20' weather or even snow. Handedly the U13 Girls dominated play spraying the ball around, connecting and controlling the game for a 2-0 win with goals from Delaney Reed and Lilly Gwin.
Having played Juventus out of Cal North at the Labor Day event in San Fran the WCDA made sure to play groups who had not yet faced each other for overall points. Opportunity looks like hard work is our 2013/14 mantra and boy did we get it in drawing Crossfire Premier (WA). Crossfire Premier, a fellow Elite Clubs National League member and ECNL conference opponent for our U14-U18's, along with being a consistent national power in youth soccer. Opportunity. The first half of play Nova took it to Crossfire, on goals by Tara Brennan, with a left footed laser that found the back of the net from 15 out one touch and Lily Schlake, bending the ball into the side netting by the keepers outstretched hands. At halftime Nova found themselves with a dominating performance and challenge. Challenge = can you do what you just did for another half? The second half started out well with both teams battling and midway through the 2nd half, Crossfire built momentum with disciplined play, connection and shape in the Nova half of the field. Converting a penalty kick resulted from a foul in the box and then with 20 seconds left in the game the referee awarded an indirect kick off of a deflection/challenge that the Nova keeper collected. Decision equaling a "pass back". Crossfire converted the free kick, over the wall. As both teams walked back to half, the center referee blew his whistle and game ended 2-2. Tale of two halves and overall a GREAT soccer match for the game of soccer.
"This weekend showed what our programming, environments and resources can provide in and outside the state of Idaho soccer community. I am extremely proud of what this group accomplished this weekend knowing that January is not really our "soccer month". They got better every game and their growth from this experience will no doubt show later in their playing days," said Eric Simmonsen.
Way to go FCNova U13G Pre-ECNL...the future is bright!