ECNL SOUTH CAROLINA DAY 2: PREPPING FOR THE NEXT LEVEL
The second day of ECNL South Carolina featured some tightly contested battles all over MeSA Soccer Complex. With hundreds of scouts on hand, multiple coaches expressed how pleased they were to put their players into such competitive games.
One of those games had St. Croix taking on Florida Kraze in the U18/19 age group.
St. Croix opened up controlling possession throughout much of the opening ten minutes of the game. Florida Kraze quickly turned the tide though when Nkosilathi Mafela put one home in the 10th minute to open up the scoring.
St. Croix responded by cranking up the pressure on Florida Kraze. Midway through the first half they had a great opportunity from a free kick that was cleared off the line by the Florida Kraze defense. Right before halftime, St. Croix had another outstanding chance from inside the box that was turned away, preserving the 1-0 Florida Kraze lead into halftime.
Midway through the second half, St. Croix found the equalizer. After absorbing pressure from the Florida Kraze attack, St. Croix broke out on the counter attack and played a ball over the top of the defense that fell to Liam Moreira. Moreira calmly slotted the ball past the keeper to level things up at 1-1 in the 60th minute.
In the 72nd minute, Florida Kraze found their winning goal. After two outstanding saves on shots that came from corner kicks, Mason Dowdy was able to get to a loose ball in the box and bury it in the back of the net to put Florida Kraze up for good.
After the game, Florida Kraze Head Coach Joe Avallone spoke to the high-level intensity, competitiveness, and professionalism of the game from both sides.
“Very competitive game, both teams came out to play,” Avallone said. “With the college coaches watching, they saw an intensity that you need to see at the next level.”
“I was very proud of the way both teams played. They carried themselves with a lot of discipline. There were some good, fair tackles on the pitch that you see at the next level, and everyone I thought was very professional.”
In terms of his team’s performance, Avallone cited the maturity and experience his team has together as the reason why they were able to battle back for the win after conceding the game tying goal.
“They’re a mature group. They’ve been together for a number of years and there are qualities on this team,” Avallone said.
Another match in the U18/19 age group that was also intense and highly competitive was between Tampa Bay United and UFA.
Tampa Bay United Head Coach Eddie Ababio noted how both sides each came out looking to control the possession in the game.
“I thought both teams came out to play possession-oriented soccer,” Ababio said. “We wanted to have the ball so the college scouts can see we’re good players on the ball.”
Both teams used that possession to create a number of scoring chances for themselves throughout the first half, but the game remained deadlocked through the first 45.
“We know that our best defense is our attack, so we kept looking to create two-on-ones out wide and get services into the box,” Ababio said.
In the 70th minute, that attacking mentality paid off as Chance Campbell put home the opening goal of the game to put Tampa Bay United up 1-0. That score would hold up the rest of the way thanks to some strong Tampa Bay United defending throughout the final 20 minutes of the game.
Ababio was pleased with the performance and happy to see his team put a complete game together, something he thought they could have done a better job of in their first game in South Carolina and hopes they can put together another solid two halves in their final game on Sunday.
“It was a well-played game from both teams. UFA is a great club, so I’m really happy with the performance.”