Congratulations Solar Chelsea ECNL U14 – NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!!!
This Solar Chelsea group’s title was, obviously, its first on an ECNL stepladder to college that starts with the U14 age. But it wasn’t this group’s first title together. They’d won a US Youth Soccer championship at the U13 age last year, meaning they’ve now won the highest national trophy they possibly could the last two seasons. In a row.
Thanks to a richly deserved 3-1 win over a feisty if somewhat overmatched Eclipse Select side, Solar Chelsea’s U14 team can add another trophy to the mantle.
“It’s the highest level for these kids and for us as a club and for myself as a coach and everybody here,” Solar Chelsea U14 coach Chris Pulpaneck said. “I don’t know if you can get better than that.”
The U14 finale had some early drama Solar Chelsea was sure to extinguish in a hurry.
Raiding right back Macy Blackburn, unarguably one of the tournament’s most dangerous players, got the game off to a rolling start when she unleashed a rasping volley to the opposite post within the opening 10 minutes. When a corner kick rattled around the box and fell to Blackburn about 15 yards off the goal line, her swinging shot left the keeper rooted to the spot.
That goal might’ve set the tone if not for Eclipse Select’s rapid response. Carol Fernanda Soto Diaz, perhaps Eclipse Select’s most dangerous player, connected on a rattling strike that braised the underside of the cross bar and just crossed the line. That goal came shortly after Solar Chelsea’s opener, and it gave the Illinois club some hope. But it was relatively short-lived.
The teams went into half knotted at 1-1, but just minutes into the second half Solar Chelsea tilted the game for good. With the help of dominant midfield trio Olivia Pena, Quinn Cornog and Allison Perry, Solar Chelsea simply took over. Perry, the game’s single most dominant force, scored a looping back-post goal minutes into the second half, and Olivia Ramirez put in the dagger off a rebound less than 10 minutes later.
From then on, it was a fast burn to the moment Solar Chelsea hoisted the trophy.
“We’ve got like 13 bosses on this team,” Pulpaneck said. “Everybody steps up where they have their games where they take charge. That’s one of the things the players have learned. Being a leader doesn’t necessarily mean telling people what to do, but listening. And t
he most important part is making sure players know what to do. Today and probably a couple other games that leader was (Perry), but there’s a bunch of other leaders we had on the field as well.”