ECNL PHOENIX DAY 2 RECAP: TIGHTLY CONTESTED BATTLES
The second day at ECNL Phoenix saw some tight competition throughout the day.
At the U15 age group, Seattle United took on El Camino FC Salinas in a match that provided a lot of goals, but also some very physical play.
The first half proved to be a very back and forth contest between the two sides. Seattle United got on the board first on a goal from Magnus Hauge in the 25th minute. Both teams then quickly exchanged goals as El Camino’s Fernando Matias-Chavez scored in the 31st minute, followed up quickly by Seattle United answering on a goal in the 32nd minute from Lucas Mooring. El Camino then leveled the score before halftime on a header by Luis Macias-Martinez in the 38th minute.
In the second half, El Camino initially came out and controlled the possession and some of the early chances. They were rewarded in the 54th minute on a goal by Walter Bonilla Jr to give them a 3-2 lead in the game.
Seattle United answered back with some good chances of their own though. Multiple times throughout the second half Seattle looked dangerous in the attacking third, including a shot that hit off the post that would have tied the game.
The equalizer finally came in the 75th minute though, when Maxwell Cook was able to slot one home to tie the game up at 3-3, a score that would hold until the final whistle.
While both sides provided some good attacking play, one of the things that definitely stood out throughout the match was the physicality.
“I think it was a physical game with two teams matching up and wanting to attack quickly,” Seattle United Head Coach Alex Chursky said. “It was a well fought game by both teams with some good moments, but it was definitely a physical game.”
While Seattle trailed throughout a good portion of the second half, Chursky was pleased with the way his team did not drop their effort, but instead raised it to help them find the equalizing goal.
“I think if you’re down by a goal you can never give up and sometimes it’s just a little second effort that you need on a play,” Chursky said. “You just have to keep following up every rebound and be opportunistic and optimistic that a ball might drop your way, and that’s what we were looking to capitalize on if that happened.”
One of the best things about ECNL National Events is getting to see the different styles of play from other clubs around the country. Seattle United took on Santa Rosa on Friday and Chursky noted how fantastic it was for his side to get to face two teams with different playing styles and approaches to the game.
“From yesterday to today, we’ve had two completely different styles of play in terms of the opponent, and that’s fantastic,” Chursky said. “I think that the ECNL Boys is one of the most diverse leagues in this country in terms of the club’s philosophy and how the teams approach the game.”
Another game that featured a tightly contested battle on the second day of ECNL Phoenix was United PDX taking on Arizona Arsenal at the U18/19 level.
The first half was a defensive struggle between the two sides, but still featured some high-quality play. United PDX controlled most of the possession in the first 20 minutes of the game as Arizona Arsenal opted to sit in with a more defensive approach to open the game.
As the half progressed, Arizona Arsenal began to find more of the possession, and the game opened up with a few more scoring opportunities from both sides, including some really good chances from set pieces.
In the second half, the deadlock was finally broken in the 54th minute as Solomon Barnett put one home to give United PDX a 1-0 lead.
As the game progressed into the final 15 minutes, Arizona Arsenal decided to make a formation change and go with two up top and only three at the back as they pushed for the equalizing goal.
With that formation change the pressure really increased on the United PDX defense. Arizona Arsenal began getting more crosses into the box and were firing any shot they could to try to get the tying goal.
Eventually the pressure paid off as Jose Carrillo found himself open on the back post in the 85th minute and was able to slide in the game tying goal in the final minutes of the game to earn his side a 1-1 draw.
Not only did the formation change help his team get the tying goal, but Head Coach Jacob Zimmerman credited the drive of his players going forward to help get that equalizing goal.
“More so it was the players getting after it and pushing for a goal to equalize,” Zimmerman said. “It was a really good performance from our boys in regard to their character and pushing towards the end of it.”
Zimmerman thinks that those moments where his team has to dig in and really work hard to get a goal are where they see some of their best moments.
“This group is special,” Zimmerman said. “I think a lot of the character of these boys is blue-collar, hardworking, enjoying the competitive moments. We always say with this group their best moments are when they’re a little bit chippy, on the edge. I think it comes from that DNA of love to win and hate to lose.”
With the 1-1 draw, Arizona Arsenal remains unbeaten on the season, and as they go into the last day in Phoenix, Zimmerman’s message to the team is to try to finish the first half of their year with that unbeaten record still intact.
“My message to the boys at the end of this was let’s end the first half of the ECNL season being undefeated. There were smiles on the boys’ faces, so I know they’re up for it tomorrow.”