ECNL BOYS NATIONAL PLAYOFFS DAY 5 RECAP: ONE PRIDE
Success can be measured in many different ways. At the ECNL Boys National Playoffs, the starkest example is the ECNL National Championship, which every team is chasing. However, if you end up being one of the 43 or 63 teams that do not end up heading up trophy in hand, there are still many different ways a season can be successful.
FC Pride’s U14 squad had a historic 2021-22 season heading into the ECNL Playoffs. The team went 9-2-1 in conference play, which was strong enough to be named the Midwest Conference Champions. Through the first two days of the tournament, FC Pride went 0-1-1; the team wasn’t completed out of a Champions League spot, but it would take a lot of hard work and some luck to advance to the Round of 16.
On the final day of group play, FC Pride faced off against Santa Rosa United, who was in first place in the group with a 2-0-0 record. A formidable opponent when you’re desperate for a win, but FC Pride was up to the task.
Just 10 minutes into the contest, Santa Rosa took a 1-0 lead, setting the tone of the match. The two sides played a back and forth match, trading chances and making saves, but the ball stayed primarily in the middle of the pitch until the 70th minute, when the game exploded with chances.
Santa Rosa started off a scoring frenzy in the 70th minute, making it a 2-0 game and giving what many thought would be a victory for the California club. But FC Pride was not done.
With seven minutes remaining in the game, FC Pride slipped a shot underneath the Santa Rosa keeper, bringing the game to 2-1. Santa Rosa came right back, immediately marching down the pitch and potting the team’s third goal of the game to make it a 3-1 contest.
Still not determined to roll over, FC Pride once again scored, slicing through the defense before knocking the ball across the goalline with less than three minutes remaining, putting the score at 3-2. In stoppage time, FC Pride continued to press forward and in the dying minutes, added another goal to make it 3-3.
FC Pride came back from two multiple-goal deficits; the latter of which came in stoppage time. They did so against the top team in their group. They had one more chance to get one more goal to potentially move them through to the next round.
Despite their best efforts, Santa Rosa closed out the game without any more goals, and at the final whistle, the two teams drew 3-3.
At the end of group play, FC Pride was heading home with a 0-1-2 record. But their season was much more than coming home empty-handed.
The team had one of the best regular seasons in club history. They won the Midwest Conference Championship and showed up to the ECNL Boys National Playoffs ready to go. While they might not have won a game, the team played to the level of everyone else in their group, and if one or two more bounces would have gone their way, they very easily could have been in the Round of 16.
FC Pride will not be the ECNL Boys National Champions, but they still had an incredibly successful season, one the club and its players are surely proud of.