The Michigan Hawks U14, U15 and U18's all made the National ECNL Finals in 2015. The U18 Hawks won the U18 ECNL National Championship and the U15's are in the Finals regardless of Friday's results.
RICHMOND, Va. — Day one of the ECNL National Finals kicked off on Tuesday as 24 teams in the U15 through U17 age groups eyed up a run at a national championship.
U15 First Match: Michigan Hawks 2, Solar Chelsea 1
After playing a scoreless first half that turned into a quagmire when a rain shower rolled through Tuesday morning, the Michigan Hawks broke through against Solar Chelsea and capture their tournament opener, 2-1. Forward Alexa Spaanstra and defender Samantha Kleedtke scored to stake a 2-0 second half lead, and the Hawks defense held off a Solar Chelsea charge that featured a goal from Mackenzie McFarland.
Spaanstra’s goal came early in the second half when midfielder Emaly Vatne launched a cross to the right post and Spaanstra redirected it slightly on a header. Kleedtke doubled the Hawks’s lead by knocking in the ball during a scrum in front of the net after a free kick.
Hawks goalkeeper Alexandra DeRuvo was strong and stopped a few breakaways and forced Solar Chelsea into a number of bad shots. She also got some help when McFarland hit the crossbar early in the game.
The Hawks take on D’Feeters Soccer Club, which played a scoreless draw against Colorado Storm, on Wednesday.
Teams took another step closer to clinching spots in the championship game on Day Two of the ECNL National Finals.
U15 Second Match: Michigan Hawks 2, D’Feeters 1
The Hawks took a step closer to a first place group finish, holding on to a narrow 2-1 victory against a tough and tenacious D’Feeters side.
Midfielder Emaly Vatne’s brave, sliding finish from an Alexa Spaanstra cross nudged the Hawks out in front during a strong first half display. The D’Feeters defense worked well to disrupt the Hawks attackers aside from that moment, and the Texas side looked to midfielder Taylor Moon and forward Elena Reyna to tie the game.
But Spaanstra struck again early in the second half, this time scoring a goal of her own. A clearance fell to Madison McBurnett who popped the ball up into the box to Spaanstra, who struck a half-volley into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
Reyna pulled a goal back for the D’Feeters to setup a frentic finish, as a direct ball into the box was redirected over Hawks goalkeeper Alexandra DeRuvo into Reyna's path for a simple tap in. It was a just reward for the hard-working forward who troubled the Hawks all game long.
D’Feeters kept the pressure on in search of an equalizer, but the Hawks defense held firm, as center backs Samantha Kleedtke and Diane Senkowski held firm to the final whistle. The Hawks face Colorado Storm in Friday’s action at 12:30PM.
Below is a look at some of the players who turned in notable performances from the second day of play.
GK Alexandra DeRuvo , Michigan Hawks U15: Showed well in a 2-1 victory against D’Feeters. Never had to make a spectacular save, but DeRuvo read the game well, knowing when to come off her line and intervene at the top of the box. Her distribution was excellent too, whether passing it out of the back of finding players further up field.
M Emaly Vatne , Michigan Hawks U15: A relentless flank player for the Hawks’ quality U15 side, Vatne opened the scoring in Wednesday’s action with a brave sliding finish, and was a thorn in the side for the D’Feeters defense all day long.
Many of the ECNL National games can be viewed on the ECNL Youtube Channel, www.youtube.com/theECNL.