By Marc Serber
Published in partnership with SoccerWire.com
The PDA ECNL 06 Blue Wolves ran rampant in the girls U-13 Championship Division of the Jefferson Cup, capping off the weekend with a 5-0 win over a quality Cincinnati United Cup 06 North I team in the final.
The New Jersey side went 3-0-1 on the weekend, conceding just one goal while smashing in 13 at the other end.
“This team is the ultimate team in terms of they all attack, they all defend,” PDA Head coach Larry Hart said after the trophy presentation, “but they all pull the rope in the same direction for each other. They’re a really, really strong team.”
PDA opened the final with a furious high press. Cincinnati United, meanwhile, did well to pass their way out of trouble and bring the ball into the midfield.
It was there, however, that PDA’s rotating midfield always had a player in the destroyer spot who bossed the game. Sitting in front of the back three, the rotating holding-mid broke up the play and PDA set off with quick, incisive passing to build the attacks in just three to four passes before the ball was at the top of the box.
“[It’s all about] Understanding the rotation in the midfield.” Hart said of his team’s modus operandi. “You keep playing like that in the midfield, you can go left and right very easily. We don’t get stuck with the ball very often because we play two-touches and we keep that rotation going. So, it’s left and right without the other team having a chance to defend very well.
Early pressure paid off as a lose clearance fell to Mikayla Mandleurabout 25-yards from goal. The PDA midfielder returned it with considerable interest, slamming the ball first-time, into the upper right-corner.
When United was able to get its defensive shape, the Wolves rapidly moved the ball from side to side, opening up space to attack down the flanks and put in dangerous crosses.
“We dominated the game by moving the ball quickly,” co-captain Jyvanna Harris said after hoisting the Jefferson Cup. “We were able to switch it through the backs and make good runs through.”
It was via this method that PDA fashioned its second goal. Wolves won the ball along the right touch-line and a few slick passes put the ball on the foot of Ainsley Moy at the top of the box. Moy turned her defender with class and applied a clinical finish.
Just before the interval, Wolves put the match completely out of reach. Moy grabbed her brace following another fine flowing move that originated from the right touchline and was completed within four passes.
PDA had its grasp firmly on the Jefferson Cup title just before the half-time whistle. Emma Harmon essentially sealed the deal with a phenomenal solo effort. Harmon played a quick combination at the top of the box before slithering through a mass of defenders with some exquisite dribbling before smashing her shot right through the hands of the keeper.
Cincinnati United battled with the heart of a champion and came out flying in the second half, attacking for much of the tournament’s final frame.
PDA’s defense held firm, however, and the New Jersey side put the exclamation point on the championship with a stellar counter-attacking move on the game’s final play. Wolves won the ball at the top of their own box and it took just a few passes to put Vanessa Sarf through on goal.
Although the United goalkeeper made an excellent save on the initial shot, Sarf pounced on the rebound with the final kick of the game to cap off a dominant weekend.
“I like the teams we play against,” co-captain Abigail Gemma remarked on the Jefferson Cup, “because we always know we’re coming into this tournament after being indoors and knowing that we’re going to play against [good] competition.”
“It helps us get back into the swing of things,” Gemma continued, and we learn how to work together and build up chemistry again.”
PDA is entering the spring portion of its 2018-2019 ECNL regular season, with the bulk of their Northeast Conference competition coming up. The team has scored a ridiculous 45 goals and allowed only one during their first nine league games this season. They enter the spring portion of their ECNL schedule with a perfect 9-0-0 record, with eight of their nine victories coming in shutout fashion.
If Wolves are, in fact, just starting to rebuild their chemistry after winter’s long hibernation, then it’s going to be frightening spring for its prey.