SLAMMERS FC ARE 2021 ECNL OVERALL CLUB NATIONAL CHAMPIONS
With all of Sunday’s [July 18, 2021] drama, it also wasn’t until the final contest ended did a team clinch the ECNL Girls’ overall club championship. Heading into Sunday, Solar SC held a 15 point lead on LAFC Slammers and it was anybody’s title to win.
As the day progressed, LAFC lost the U17 National Championship, but won the U16. Meanwhile, Solar SC won the U14 National Championship. However, with the U13 National Championship win in penalty kicks, LAFC Slammers locked in the overall club championship, becoming the first back-to-back champions in ECNL history.
“An overall club championship, that is the standard,” [U13 Coach Pete] Aguirre said. “To be able to accomplish it again, it’s a reflection of what this club is all about and what the girls bring to the table every game.”
Read more about the final matches:
The U17s featured two California clubs competing for the National Championship, and what resulted was a game that required both teams to grind, fight, and claw for every inch.
LAFC Slammers started the game with their foot on the gas, generating scoring chance after scoring chance, racking up three corners and multiple one-on-one battles before the first 10 minutes were up. However, MVLA weathered the storm and as they settled into the game, started to flip the game into their favor.
Both sides traded chances throughout the first half, attacking and counterattacking, but neither side could gain an upper hand. That continued into the second half, until finally, MVLA broke through. MVLA’s Jasmine Aikey received the ball inside the box and slipped a shot under the diving LAFC Slammers goalkeeper for the game’s first tally.
Now playing with a deficit, LAFC Slammers doubled its effort to find the back of the net. The squad routinely pressed and sent numbers forward, but much like in the early part of the game, MVLA blocked every attempt from entering the cage.
Getting more desperate, LAFC Slammers put everything forward, but as they had all game, MVLA stood tall and at the final whistle, they were National Champions. It was the club’s fourth ECNL National Championship and the second national title for the U17 squad.
“This is an amazing group,” said Erin Montoya, MVLA U17 Coach. “This is the third time in a row we’ve been back here. So to come to face this quality of competition every single game, and to win, it’s an incredible feeling. I’m kind of in shock still. I can’t believe it.”
In a matchup between two powerhouse clubs, this contest lived up to the hype, with fireworks throughout regulation and even in extra time.
LAFC Slammers tested the PDA Blue backline early and often, creating dangerous chances but each time, the PDA Blue backline diffused it before it reached the goal line. Their backline play eventually fueled the offense, as PDA scored the first goal of the contest just following the first-half water break. PDA Blue carried that 1-0 lead into the half, hoping to add to it in the second 45.
Coming out of the halftime break, LAFC evened the score at 1-1. Both teams came out swinging from the half, but off a counter, LAFC Slammers earned a free-kick outside the box. The shot dropped right in front of the keeper just out of her reach and bounced into the open net to tie the game up.
Wasting no time, PDA Blue immediately regained the lead, marching down the field before burying a shot into the net to make it a 2-1 game. PDA Blue held that lead as the match wound down, with tensions rising higher and higher as LAFC Slammers tried to once again find an equalizer.
With just minutes remaining in regulation, LAFC Slammers did just that. A battle for a loose ball in the six-yard box, LAFC Slammers was able to poke the ball across the line to bring the game to 2-2 and force extra time.
In the extra 20 minutes, LAFC took their momentum and used it to their advantage, adding two more goals, including a beautiful strike from the right side of the 18-yard box, clinching the trophy in the process.
“We feel amazing, we were down twice and whenever you come back, it speaks to the character of the individuals, the collective effort of the group,” said Cheyne Gordon, LAFC Slammers Coach. “We sacrificed a lot to come here and try to win a national championship, so the fact they dug deep and stayed true to that character is pretty special.”
In the youngest age group at the National Finals, these two teams showed the future was very bright in an incredibly hard-fought National Championship match.
Both teams prided themselves on defensive play, and the National Championship match was no different. LAFC and Eclipse Select raced up and down the field, searching for a goal. Free-kicks, corner kicks, run of play, it didn’t matter. Each time one team got close to the goal, the other would shut the door and immediately counter, looking for their own scoring chance.
Eventually 80 minutes wasn’t enough, forcing both sides to head to extra time. And even an additional 10 minutes couldn’t put one team over the other, sending the contest to penalty kicks.
In the shootout, LAFC Slammers eventually recorded one more goal than Eclipse Select, securing the team’s first National Championship.
“It feels fantastic to win this game,” said Pete Aguirre, LAFC Slammers Coach. “These girls have had a long journey. To finish the season undefeated is a special feat, but to finish it in this fashion makes it that much more special.”