Hawks 02 are in the Final Four
The top U15 to U17 ECNL teams from across the nation will descend upon San Diego over July 7-8 to compete for the ECNL National Championship. And Coach Michele Krzisnik’s U15 Hawks find themselves in a good position to make a run for the crown.
After a successful regular season that saw them unbeaten, the U15 team finished as the Midwest Conference Champions and gained a 3rd seed national ranking in qualification for the ECNL Champions League Playoffs. The latter concluded recently in Rockford, IL and after a draw that placed them in a very competitive group, the Hawks again came out on top.
Lead by Michelle Cooper’s powerful hat trick and an all-around dominating team performance, the Hawks disposed of their first opponent CASL by a score of 3-0. The second half shut out was preserved by Hawks net minder Hayley Lindow.
Next up was a determined Connecticut FC team that had only lost 1 game all year. A tough, spirted encounter produced an energetic game ending in a scoreless draw at the break. The Hawks finally broke through in the second half after nice build-up play by Grace Phillpotts and an expert finish off the boot of Joyelle Washington. Commanding midfield play by Jenna Faybrick and Maia Richters, and a gritty performance by defenders Mia Wolfbauer, Olivia Depauli, Abi Finn and keeper Riley Moore nearly saw the Hawks finish out the win. However, a late Connecticut FC corner proved their downfall as the Hawks were unable to clear the ball and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.
With both teams needing a victory for a chance at advancement, game 3 pitted the Hawks against a familiar foe in highly-ranked Jacksonville FC. In a game that lived up to expectations, an epic battle ensued. The Hawks opened first as a streaking Josie Aulicino collected a well-timed ball from Sydney Noon and with a deft cut, beat her defender and bent a left footed strike into the back of the net. Jacksonville however answered minutes later and the title fight was on. It was the celebrated return from injury of Eva Gaetino that tipped the balance. It was her expert pass splitting defenders that led to the Hawks third goal and a hard fought 3-2 victory.
With the determined group play performance complete, next came an elimination Quarterfinal game matching two ECNL giants: Hawks vs TopHat. The latter, out of Atlanta, Georgia and sporting a roster sprinkled with National Team players, had not conceded a goal during group play. In the showdown however, it was the Hawks clinical possession and build-up play that proved too much for TopHat and they were unlocked for a 3-1 victory. Emily Eitzman, Dalaney Millis and Danae Moriarty provided crucial minutes over the course of the ECNL Playoffs and helped secure a berth into the ECNL Finals.
With a collective 22-0-4 record, the Midwest powerhouse U15 Hawks hope to continue their success in the ECNL Finals July 7 and 8 against California clubs So Cal Blues and Slammers FC, and the Texans Solar Chelsea. Look for further announcements about game times and live streaming of the event.
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