Saturday was a big day in the ECNL-Regional League calendar in the state of Texas with a critical double-header involving Houston rivals Albion Hurricanes FC and Challenge SC at Burroughs Park.Prep Soccer was on-site on a day with very typical…
Saturday was a big day in the ECNL-Regional League calendar in the state of Texas with a critical double-header involving Houston rivals Albion Hurricanes FC and Challenge SC at Burroughs Park.
Prep Soccer was on-site on a day with very typical Texas weather and followed the duels between the club’s G06s and G07s teams in the Regional League. We’re dropping all the information about both matches on our website this week and this time we’ll present the top performers of the match between Albion Hurricanes FC ECNL-RL G06 and Challenge SC ECNL-RL G06 – click here to check the best photos of the match.
Albion Hurricanes FC ECNL-RL G06 1 x 1 Challenge SC ECNL-RL G06
The duel was very competitive from start to finish, with the teams alternating the control of the match and creating good chances. Albion scored the first goal of the match with Mary Paul getting the ball inside the penalty box, dribbling the goalkeeper and finishing to an open net. Challenge made some pressure to get the equalizer and managed to even the score in the second half, when a long pass found Emily Sydnor, who beat the defenders to the ball and finished with power to send the ball to the back of the net.
Albion’s diminutive midfielder played a big match for them, dictating the team’s rhythm from her central position. She knew exactly when to accelerate the game and when to circulate the ball and made good decisions when in possession very often. Paul would frequently get the ball with her back to the ball in crowded areas of the field and still manage to create space and find teammates in good spots. She was very dangerous with her passing, connecting well with the forwards and getting the ball to them in good spots. A lefty, Paul started the match in more of a central position, but fluctuated on both flanks looking for space. She was very calm in the play in which she scored the team’s goal, dribbling the goalkeeper and sending the ball into an open net.
Sydnor played a pivotal role in the final score because she scored Challenge’s equalizer, but she was very dangerous well before that. She spent most of the match on the right and was always very direct and aggressive in possession, using her pace and dribbling ability to beat defenders. The winger also made some good diagonal runs to get the ball behind Albion’s backline, but couldn’t capitalize on them. In the play that ended with her goal, Sydnor was very intelligent to avoid getting into an offside position, beat Albion’s defenders with her pace and finished with power, giving no chance to the goalkeeper.
Goalkeepers have good matches when they’re there when their teams need them and that’s exactly what Smith did for Albion on Saturday. She was very reliable during the entire match and transmitted a great deal of confidence to her teammates with her solid play between the posts. As Challenge were trailing for part of the match, they had to push forward and fire shots on target, but Smith was always there. She dealt with long or short-distance shots very well, rarely allowing for a second-chance finish. There was really nothing she could have done to avoid Challenge’s goal as Sydnor’s finish was from very close range and had a lot of power on it.
Challenge’s captain was very solid with her defensive duties, using her size and strength in 1v1 duels to keep Albion’s forwards under control for most of the match. She won basically every aerial battle she was involved with, keeping the ball away from her team’s penalty box. Tomlinson also had a significant offensive role with the team, being in charge of set pieces and corner kicks. She displayed great confidence in her ability to shoot from distance, taking some long free kicks directly to the goal and creating good chances. She was also very clean and efficient with her passing, often finding teammates in good spots from her position in the back.
Lazenby also had a lot of work to contain Challenge’s offensive actions and did a very good job operating in the center of Albion’s backline. She used her physical tools to dominate the penalty box, especially in the air, and also did well when the she had to engage on 1v1 duels with opponents. The center back also did a good job of communicating with her teammates and helping the team make adjustments as the match progressed. Lazenby impacted the game with her set pieces too, sending long balls into Challenge’s penalty box. She was moved to right back during the second half and displayed some quality there, making intelligent runs into open spaces and finding good passes and crosses.
Cantu played with a lot of energy at Challenge’s midfield and set the tone for the team’s intensity level in the match and working as its engine room. She was everywhere on the field and battled for every ball, using her body to gain possession and get opponents out of the way. The midfielder never stopped running and was also very strong when she had the ball, making good runs forward to push the team upfield. Cantu also showed to be a very skilled and intelligent player, making good passes and attempting finishes with both feet.