WC Eagles sweep National Club Championship age groups

By Sam Stewart

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he WC Eagles, who train at The Training Center in Spring City, Pa., retained the Under-14, Under-16, and Under-19 USA Field Hockey National Club Titles for the third consecutive year, winning all 18 games over nine days in Lancaster.

The WC Eagles U-14 set the tone, romping through their pool-play games, 9-0 over Freedom (MD), 7-0 over Saints (VA), and 9-0 over the Striker Stars. In the quarterfinals they overcame Windy City (Ill.), 4-0, to move into the semifinals where they beat their perennial rivals Spirit of USA (NJ), 6-0. The final saw a rematch against the Saints. Two quick goals put the Virginia team on its heals and allowed the WC Eagles to run out to a 6-1 victory and claim the U14 National Club Championship for the fourth straight year.

In the U-16 Division, WC Eagles opened with a solid 6-1 win over IFHCK (KY). In the next game, Northeast Elite (NH) found the WC Eagles ball speed and high pressing forwards difficult to handle after holding them to one goal in the opening 15 minutes, allowing WC to pull away with a 15-2 win. The talented and skillful TCOYO (VA) club moved the ball around with good movement and accurate passes and soon had WC Eagles under pressure. Finding themselves down 1-0, WC Eagles pulled themselves back into the game with crisp passing and a staunch defense and managed to tie the score just before halftime. Both teams went close on several occasions before WC Eagles pulled away with two well-executed penalty corners to win, 3-1. An outstanding performance by the Jersey Intensity (NJ) goalkeeper thwarted numerous scoring opportunities but two goals in each half paved the way for W C Eagles to roll into the semifinals against Princeton (NJ). With their goalkeeper also pulling off a number of fine saves, the Princeton offense took advantage of two penalty corners to go into halftime with a 2-1 lead. WC Eagles coach, Jun Kentwell, made some adjustments at halftime which quickly paid dividends. With WC Eagles tightening their defensive shape, and with Unionville’s Erin Matson taking control of the midfield with her deft stick work, pinpoint passing and probing runs, WC Eagles created avenues through the Princeton defense to score six unanswered goals and run out 7-2 winners.

PA Mavericks had only conceded one goal on their way to the U16 Final but two opportunistic goals gave WC Eagles the early lead. A workmanlike performance kept the play in the PA Mavericks half throughout the game and WC Eagles secured a 4-0 win and their third consecutive Under 16 National Club Championship title.

In U-19 play, Three solid wins in their pool (7-0 vs. Focus (VA); 6-0 vs. FH Life (OH); and 15-0 over Howard Stampede (MD) paved the way for the WC Eagles to the quarterfinals where they overpowered Princeton, 7-1. With both teams having Junior National Team players in their starting lineups, the semifinal against the Nook (PA) was an exciting battle of fast, skillful, forwards against tight, resolute defenses. The game swung from end to end, with each team surviving near misses. Both teams had two goals called back in the second half. With seconds remaining, and the game heading to a shoot-out, Episcopal Academy’s Corinne Zanolli threaded the ball through the Nook defense from the 25 to the far post where the diving Sophia Tornetta (Agnes Irwin) deflected it into the net to give WC Eagles a 1-0 victory and a place in the final. The Saints (Va) were waiting to offer another stern test in the final but WC attacked and pressed with speed and capitalized on two early chances and added a third midway through the half to take a 3-0 lead. The Saints pulled one back from a penalty corner on the stroke of halftime to get back in the game, but WC Eagles ran out winners by the score of 5-1 and captured their fourth straight Under 19 National Club Championship title.

NOTES >> Only the top sixteen U-14, U-16 and U-19 teams from the Regional Club Championships earned a ticket to the National Club Championship presented by Harrow Sports. The winner received the gold Harrow Sports field hockey stick. … Local club X-Calibur also qualified.

WC Eagles Under 14 National Club Championship Results

Pool – 9-0 vs Freedom Hockey

Pool – 7-0 vs Saints

Pool – 9-0 vs Striker Stars

Quarter Final – 4-0 vs Windy City

Semi-Final – 6-0 vs Spirit of USA

Final – W C Eagles 6 – 1 Saints

WC Eagles Under 16 National Club Championship Results

Pool – 6-1 vs IFHCK

Pool – 15-2 vs Northeast Elite

Pool – 3-1 vs TCOYO

Quarter Final – 4-0 vs Jersey Intensity

Semi-Final – 7-2 vs Princeton

Final – W C Eagles 4 – 0 PA Mavericks

WC Eagles Under 19 National Club Championship Results

Pool – 7-0 vs Focus FH

Pool – 6-0 vs FH Life

Pool – 15-0 vs Howard Stampede

Quarter Final – 7-1 vs Princeton

Semi-Final – 1-0 vs Nook Hockey

Final – W C Eagles 5 – 1 Saints

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