The U16 and U17 Challenge ECNL teams competed in the Phoenix ECNL National Event, Nov 14-16. Coming home with an overall mark of 5 wins, 1 draw, and 0 losses in six total games, Challenge teams played attractive attacking soccer, scoring 12 goals while conceding only 1. This was also the first weekend for the teams to unveil their new one of a kind Adidas custom navy blue long sleeve kit, unique only to Challenge ECNL teams.
The u16's left Phoenix with a perfect 3 win 0 loss weekend, with no goals against, earning them a 5th place finish out of 44 teams. Results included: 1-0 vs Atlanta Fire, 3-0 vs FC Portland, and 2-0 vs #20 GSA. Goals were scored by: Alyssa Malonson (2), Zionah Browne (2), Riley Kaderli, and Courtney Harris. Goalkeeper, Olivia Ausmus had an unblemished weekend with 3 clean sheets and has now earned a shutout in 8 of her last 9 games, while conceding only 5 goals on the entire season.
ECNL Assistant Director Chris Maravalli on the u16's: 'This was a very positive weekend for the girls and has really put us in a great spot to compete for a Champions League position. We got goals from all over the field and were able to dictate the play in all three games. They have improved technically and are playing with a lot of confidence both going forward and certainly in the back. Hats off to the group as they keep this run of shutouts going. The girls have a lot to look forward to as they have been incredibly positive while earning consistent results (7-1-1 in their last nine games).'
Finishing 9th overall out of 46 participating teams, the U17's finished the event with 2 wins and one draw, defeating SC Del Sol 4-1, FC Nova 2-0, and drawing Arsenal FC 0-0. Amy Nyguen led the Challenge attack with 5 goals on the weekend with Avery Ortmann earning her first of the season after recently returning from injury. Nicole Young earned 2 shutouts while conceding only one late goal in the 3rd game.
ECNL Director Stuart Self had this to say on the u17 weekend: 'The 98s have been a very resilient and much improved team over the past year and a half. Already this year we have 6 wins and have defeated some top teams in the Conference like Lonestar and FC Dallas. Their quality of soccer has improved dramatically and they are now possessing the ball into a consistent attack as well as anyone in the country. They have improved in every facet of the game and we are excited for the rest of season!'
'All of the Challenge family should be proud of how our teams played over the weekend and how they have improved in the first half of the year. Both the 16s and 17s have shown a great spirit, positive mentality, and competitiveness that can rival any opponent and it shows in their recent run of great results over the past month. Our ECNL program has shown a lot of positive momentum this year and I think its safe to say that our players and families are really enjoying themselves. Great job to all the girls!'
-Director of Coaching, Pat O'Toole