FCNova - Idaho - June 28, 2015: The FCNova U14G ECNL team capped off an amazing 2014-2015 cycle this past weekend with the 2015 US Youth Soccer Regiona IV Championships. On any given year playing in an opening group that housed Arizona, Cal South and Colorado would have been deemed a "froup of death". With experience on their side they handled Day One opponent, San Tan Legacy, out of Arizona and won 3-0. Day Two proved to be a big one with both teams winning on Day One. Beach FC (Cal South) are considered one of the premier clubs in the nation, out of Long Beach, CA. Yet, with discipline and scoring fireworks in the second half, FCNova came out on top winning 3-1. With the group placement heading into the Quarterfinals, Day Three of group play proved to still matter with a Broomfield SC (Colorado) still in the hunt. Some phenominal play and superior defending helped FCNova capitalize with a 4-0 win over the Colorado State Champs, putting FCNova atop the group with 3 wins and 9 points.
Into the knockout rounds, FCNova faced another Cal South juggernaut in Carlsbad Elite SC. Nothing ever comes easy as the group play showed in opponent draw and now facing another perennial power. After taking a 2-0 lead, Carlsbad Elite got a goal back off a set piece, corner kick, with an unmarked Elite player volleying home a knock down in the penalty box. Late in the second half a second goal was scored from distance that caught the entire Nova tea, bench and crowd off guard as Carlsbad pounced on a ball from 50 yards out and lifted the ball over the Nova goal keeper for a tying goal with little time left on the clock. The game then notched at 2-2 went into overtime, where Kayla Soto and her teammates took over. With some great combination play and movement, Soto was taken down in the box for a penalty kick that was converted to make it 3-2 Nova. INto the middle of the 2nd 10 minute overtime, Lily Schlake intercepted a Carlsbad combination, loked up and played a world class service into the run of Soto, who slammed the ball home past the recovering defenders and oncoming goal keeper from 18 yards out with a thundering left footed half volley. The final whistle blows and FCNova make it interesting with a 4-2 win...advancing to the semifinals.
"Great character displayed by the girls in a team effort today!", stated Eric Simmonsen, FCN Director of Coaching and U14G Head Coach.
A first for quite a while, FCNova had a team in the Region IV Championships Semi-Finals. The U14G faced an opponent they played 2 years ago in Park City, UT at the Avalanche Showcase. Though many faces may have changed it proved to be an epic battle for the opponents from California South (3rd Cal South opponent faced in the event for FCNova). Legends FC, one of the top 5 girls programs in the nation, bring in a wealth of experience and talent, showing it from the initial whistle. With a miscue in the penalty area between the FCNova goalkeeper and defender, Legends headed a half chance into the net to take a 1-0 lead at the 3 min mark. Shortly after, with a ball bouncing around the area and no one able to get a foot on it, Legends took advantage of another window. Striking a ball that was challenged by FCNova, deflecting off the defenders foot to redirect up and over the goal keeper's initial reaction to the shot...goal Legends and 2-0 lead. Legends would score another goal off a beautiful strike from disctance that found the net. Showing some grit and determination, FCNova got a goal back with a tremendous combination play that Abby Keeley flicked onto a run by Lilly Gwin, who got to the ball hitting wide, but was taken out by the goalkeeper; resulting in a penalty kick for Nova. Soto converts, 3-1 Legends heading into half time.
Eric Simmonsen mentioned, "Coming into the game we knew we were going to score a goal or two. Even though Legends brought and carried a record of no goals against through the event (and even into the final). The question was how many could we keep out and how many could we score?".
5 minutes into the second half, FCNova came out hot looking to close the gap and gain some momentum. Some superior confidence and build out, had FCNova in Legends half. Grace Pekovich delivered a quality ball into the top of the 18 to Delaney Reed, who held the ball under pressure and looked up to find Olivia Smith for the drop. Smith hit the ball one time, to drive it over the outsretched hands of the Legends FC goalkeeper. 3-2 Legends, Nova closing the gap! Chance after chance, Nova could not put another one away with the game going back and forth. Legends siezed the day with a corner kick goal, that was headed in by the near post runner to the far upper corner off a defending Nova players attempted clear. Truly a day of "whom was going to finish their opportunties" belonged to Legends FC, a very worthy opponent and who eventually went on to claim the 2015 US Youth Region IV U14G Championship. CONGRATULATIONS TO LEGENDS FC!
"We are so proud of these girls! Just a great group of kids for our club, State, age group and community! They represented themselves and soccer for Idaho tremendously playing states like AZ, CO and Cal South (3 times) on a tremedous run of soccer with style. This group also finished 2nd in the NW Conference of the Elite Clubs National League Northwest Division. Missing out on being one of the top 16 - U14G ECNL teams to attend the 2015 ECNL National Championships by 3 points! Overall a truly amazing year for a team from Idaho. To be recognized by TopDrawerSoccer as one of the top 25 teams in the nation is amazing in today's landscape! We'll see where we sit for the June rankings as those were based on May 2015."
WAY TO GO GIRLS! FCNOVA ARE PROUD TO CALL YOU "FACES OF NOVA!"