June 29-July 2nd, 2012
The U13 Girls Pool Group (Coached by Andy Kaasa, Emily Fischer, and Mark Abboud) took home the Midwest Regional Championship from Libertyville, IL to advance to the National Cup XI Finals.
The first game of the event was versus the Chicago Sockers ECNL team. "We knew going into the event that the Sockers were probably the best team in the entire tournament. They were one of the top teams in the Region last year and they just merged with the Chicago Fire Jrs so they have added even more talent to their group for the upcoming year. It was great to start off the event versus them so we could see where we stood right away" said Coach Kaasa.
MTA started the game very well and controlled the ball and they were rewarded 15 minutes into the game when Haak beat her defender and played Squirrel through on a breakaway and she beat the keeper to give MTA the 1-0 lead. After the goal the game began to even out and by the end of the first half the Sockers had equalized and taken control of the game.
The second half saw the Sockers controlling the game and had a shot hit off the post. MTA was able to break the Sockers pressure a couple times down the right wing but were unable to convert any of their chances and the game ended 1-1.
MTA’s second game was versus FCX North Black. Coach Kaasa’s pre game thoughts were that "FCX is a big and athletic team that play pretty direct to their fast forwards. Up until 3 weeks ago we have struggled to deal with these types of teams, but the girls have started to figure out how to keep the ball versus high pressure and we have learned that the direct teams will give us the ball back if we lose it so we can play with more confidence."
FCX started on the front foot with their three forwards pressuring MTA’s back line into giving away the ball but MTA kept passing and making their forwards work very hard defensively. About 25 minutes into the game FCX was unable to continue their high pressure and MTA took control of the game. The second half was dominated by MTA and with 20 minutes left Z played Britt down the right wing. Britt beat her defender and sent a perfect cross to AT at the back post and she headed the ball back where it came from into the lower right corner for the game winning goal.
MTA created a handful more chances and never gave the ball back to FCX and the game finished 1-0.
MTA’s final group game was versus NSA. Coach Kaasa’s pre game thoughts were that "NSA is coached by Rade Martinovic who coaches their current U18’s. Their 18’s have been one of the top teams in the country throughout their youth careers winning USYS National Titles, USYS National League Titles, and numerous Regional Championships. His teams are always very athletic and play high pressure man marking defense that is very difficult to beat while at the same time scoring a lot of goals. They have scored 3 goals in each of their first two games so we know they will create chances if we give them the ball. We talked with the team about our center mids being the key to the game and their ability to outplay NSA’s center mids would determine who would advance to the final."
Four minutes into the game MTA scored their goal of the tournament. The play started with a short goal kick and saw 6 different players touch the ball before Ari (CM) slotted Squirrel (CM) through on another break away that she converted to take the lead. The rest of the game saw MTA control the tempo and make NSA work very hard defensively which meant that NSA was unable to create anything offensively and the MTA won 1-0 to advance to the Regional Final.
Their was a shock upset in the final round robin games that saw the Sockers lose so MTA played FCX in the Region Final as they held the tie breakers over the other teams. Pre game thoughts "While we would have liked to play the Sockers again we know that upsets happen and we would have to work very hard to beat FCX’s pressure in the final. We talked about really controlling the first 25 minutes of the game and the rest of the game would take care of itself."
FCX’s high pressure resulted in two great chances in the opening 25 minutes including and open header on top of the six yard box that just went over the bar. Once again the 25 minute mark proved to be the tipping point as MTA was able to complete more passes and forced FCX to drop a forward into the midfield to deal with their movement. Half time saw the score level at 0-0 but momentum was with the Thunder.
"At half time we talked about the space that was opening up to our forwards feet because of the amount of pressure FCX was putting on our defenders and midfielders to stop our build up. We told our defenders to look to skip the midfield and play the forwards early as often as possible until they dropped off of us."
The adjustment worked well and 4 minutes into the second half Emmers (Left Back) played the ball over the top to Britt (Left Wing) who was able to flick it onto Squirrel (Center Forward) who beat her girl and scored her third goal of the tournament. The rest of the game saw MTA’s defense once again work to possess the ball and deal with mounting pressure which they did very well and did not allow a single scoring chance. The final whistle blew with MTA winning 1-0 to win the Region Title.
"It is fantastic to win an event like this because of how much the entire pool group of 32 players this year has believed in what we are doing. We train everyone together and they all push each other to get to the next level while remaining a very close knit group. We are very excited to see where this age group can go in the future." said Coach Kaasa
The victory means that MTA will play in the upcoming National Cup XI Finals.
That event will be held July 27-30 in Waukegan, Ill., and will feature winners from each Regional in the U-13 through U-17 age groups.
U13 Pool Group Finishes Second In The Premier Group
The MTA U13’s did well in the Premier Group finishing in second place. The girls won their first game versus Windy City Pride 3-0 to start the event off very well. Their second game versus ELA saw the girls dominate possession but gave up a counter attack goal in the first half and were unable to pull a goal back and lost 0-1. Their final game versus the Sockers White saw MTA jump out to a 1-0 lead but saw the Sockers tie the game up. Despite two late break aways for MTA they were unable to get the game winning goal.
U11 Girls Show Well At US Club Regionals
The U11 East Girls also showed well at US Club Regionals over the weekend. The group defeated Eclipse Select 6-4 in their first game coming back from a 0-2 whole in stoppage time in the first half. They also defeated the Chicago Sockers 4-0 and lost to the Michigan Rush 0-3. The Rush, Eclipse and MTA each finised with two wins and one loss and the Rush went through on tie breakers. Congrats to the girls on a great event.
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