U13G FCNova - Hanging at the Santa Cruz, CA Boardwalk and Ocean
After an immensely successful month of May for FCNova with State titles, finalists, having our 1st team to qualify for ECNL National Playoffs amongst some to mention, half of the U13G PreECNL age group kept playing this summer. With one half of the age group winning State and heading to Far West Regionals, another group headed to San Jose and Morgan Hills, CA. To say that ending the season was a success, would be coming up a bit short on all the accomplishments of this age group during the 2013-14 cycle.
The opening of group play, field conditions and wind combined for an "anything can happen" atmosphere. The group included teams from California North, Washington and Oregon along with the FCNova girls. The Group draw pitted a tough FC Alliance (WA) team versus the FCN squad on day one. On a first half counter attack, FC Alliance scored from a ball that was initially saved twice by FCN goalkeeper Hannah McFadden but the scramble for the 3rd ball proved to go FC Alliance's way as they placed it in the back of the net. After a first half of missed chances and a physical match, Juliet Grech opened up the first half with a tremendous finish on a service from Lilly Gwin, slamming the ball home near post with her first touch. Tied up 1-1 at half FCNova was getting the opening day nerves and travel legs out. The final ended up 3-1 FCNova and gaining a valuable opening day 3 points in group play.
Day 2 Game 2, placed Capitol City Timbers (OR) versus FCNova on a very windy afternoon, where the field and "breeze" proved to dominate the game. Timbers lost a tough battle with California North on Day 1 and needed a win to stay in, so Nova knew they were coming out to play. With their legs and more discipline to their game, FCNova came out from final whistle to the end with a dominating performance. Proving too much for the team from Oregon with a 3-0 win and now claimng 6 points from their first two games.
Day 3 Game 3 had the two group leaders facing each other with both going through based on the first two days results. Petaluma proved to be a tough contest and conditions kept the game close. With a 1-1 draw, FCNova advanced as the group winner with a +5 goal differential over the Northern Californians.
Quarterfinals and Semifinals for this age group took place on the same day in the ever warming region. The quarterfinal match based on results combined FCNova versus the Murietta Surf out of Southern California. In group play Surf came out with a 1-0 loss to the Eagles SC, also out of Cal South. With the opponent playing very direct, FCNova controlled much of the posession. Early in the first half one goal proved to be the game winner. Off of an attacking throw-in FCNova restarted the play, which was collected by Lilly Gwin who controlled the ball out of the air, dropping to Lily Schlake who hit the ball one time from 25 yards out to the far upper corner over the retreating Surf goalkeeper. 1-0 win and moving on to the semi-finals.
Later that evening, FCNova faced a Colorado Storm group whom won their quarterfinal match in a penalty shootout. A physical game with some tired legs and some overall great possession play via FCNova as the match kept going proved for an "entertaining match". After too many missed opportunities, FCNova pinned the Storm in their half for the majority of the second half. The Storm goalkeeper made a phenonemal save late, but also went down with an injury late in the game. After about 10 minutes of stoppage for the injury, the ball was restarted. 3 minutes from time, FCNova were awarded a penalty kick for a foul in the area on Abby Keeley, whom had broke free down the wing and into the box toward goal. Lilly Gwin calmy stepped up and buried the penalty kick. But wait, a whistle and FCNova player encroaching the box on the kick from the spot...still 0-0, Nova had to retake the kick. Lilly Gwin again stepped up, calmly and accurately slotting the ball to the left of the keeper and in for the game winner.
Onto the Championship Match, final day, riding a whirlwind of emotion and belief. Facing one of our ECNL sister clubs in the Eagles SC was not going to be an easy battle. True to a champioship game, much of the match was battling, tackles and chaotic soccer at its best. Both groups having some opportunities neither could break the other down, so the game was decided on two set pieces. First half a foul occured from about 35 yards out and the Eagles player used the wind to hang the ball up in the air and drop a well placed finish over the FCNova keeper into the far upper corner. 1-0 Eagles SC. The second half started as the first half had ended and with about 12 minutes to play, Eagles were awarded anther freekick from just ahead of the half line, wind at their backs. Some suspicious marking/tracking on the weakside and the service bypassed the initial challenges, sailing to the far post where the Eagles player finished the ball for the 2-0 lead and win.
We are very proud of our entire program along with these girls journey and eventual Finalists at the 2014 US Youth Presidents Cup Regional in Morgan Hills, CA. Excitement is an understatement for this age group as the move to U14 for the 2014-2015 cycle.
Congratulations all the way around and also a shout out to Juliet Grech and Olivia (Lilly) Gwin for finishing in the top 3 of the golden boot (most goals scored) with 3 goals a piece over the week of play.
U13G Regional Finalists - Skit Night Photo