ECNL BOYS NATIONAL PLAYOFFS DAY 1 RECAP: PLAY TO THE WHISTLE
Park the Bus
Saturday kicked off the ECNL Boys National Finals, pitting more than 335 teams against each other all with one goal in mind: winning an ECNL National Championship.
Saturday morning, FC Tucson battled it out against Utah Avalanche, and the close proximity between the two clubs created an unforgettable match.
Right from the opening whistle, the two sides played their hardest, setting the tone for what was going to be a fantastic match. As both sides traded chances, FC Tuscon was able to convert first, taking a 1-0 lead less than 15 minutes into the match.
As the first half wore on, the two sides continued to race up and down the pitch, swapping scoring chances with hard-fought defensive play. However, that physical style cost Utah Avalanche, as the side was forced to go a man down in the first half.
FC Tucson was also able to add a second tally before the end of the first half, converting on a penalty kick to take the 2-0 lead.
Heading into the second half with a 2-0 lead, FC Tuscon’s lone goal was to hold onto the lead and start off the ECNL Playoffs on the right foot.
Coming out of the break, even down a player, Utah Avalanche gave FC Tucson everything they had. The squad pushed numbers forward, looking for every advantage to get back into the contest. Eventually, that offensive mindset paid dividends, as the team knocked a shot into the back of the net to cut FC Tucson’s lead to 2-1.
However, finishing the game with 10 players ended up being too much, as FC Tucson was able to maintain possession for the rest of the second half, controlling the pace of play and continued their efforts on the defensive end to keep every ball out of the net.
“That was a hard-fought match against Utah Avalanche,” said FC Tucson’s D’Andre Pickett. I thought we did a great job defending. When we went up 2-0, that was our mindset, we can’t concede. With the lead at the half, we couldn’t give up. They did end up getting one, but we move on and we’re ready for a good game tomorrow.”
Earning a win in the first game of the tournament is key, but the hard work isn’t over for FC Tuscon. The team will battle STA Sunday, and a win would go a long way to solidifying a spot in the knockout round.
Play to the Whistle
In sports, and especially in soccer, you keep playing until you hear a whistle. Whether it’s for a throw-in, a foul, or even the end of a half, until that whistle blows, the ball is still in play.
Pateadores lived that saying in their opening contest against Manhattan SC.
The two teams from opposite coasts battled it out at the ECNL Boys National Playoffs Saturday, and the differing playing styles led to a fantastic match. For the majority of the first half, the two sides played a chess match in the midfield, looking for ways to exploit the other team’s weakness.
Eventually, it was Manhattan SC who found that weakness first, burying a shot to take a 1-0 lead against the California side.
As the match wore on, Manhattan SC continued to weather the storm, stifling the Pateadores offense and limiting scoring chances for their opponent. However, Pateadores refused to get frustrated and stayed cool and collected as time wound down.
Into stoppage time, Manhattan SC still held its slime 1-0 lead, but Pateadores kept adding pressure. With less than 30 seconds left in the match, their hard work finally paid off as Pateadores knocked a ball into the back of the net to even the game 1-1.
A bittersweet finish for Manhattan SC, but it reminded the team a valuable lesson: play until the whistle.