Players showcase themselves in front of college coaches lining the sidelines
FC Wisconsin teams see continued Success at Disney National College Showcase
Team Chemistry, Attitude and Energy prove successful
The FC Wisconsin U17 and U18 NPL teams accepted the invitation to the Disney National College Showcase over the Christmas break. The event had players arriving the day after Christmas in preparation for games from December 27-30th.
The events central location was held at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports and was host to the top College Coaches from all Divisions looking to recruit some of the best players from across the country.
FC Wisconsin U17 NPL Disney Recap:
The FC Wisconsin U17 NPL team would open the event playing West Florida Flames. Both teams came out with excitement and energy and Zander Hartberg would give FC Wisconsin a 1-0 lead, finishing well from inside the 6-yard box off of a good cross from Griffin Pecore. Unfortunately, two mistakes from set-pieces saw the Flames take a 2-1 lead into the interval. The team would come out and play some good soccer in the 2nd half connecting far more passes than their opponents, creating numerous chances. However; two more set-piece goals from the Flames saw them eventually win the game 5-1 in a game that was far more even than the scoreline suggested.
Although disappointed with the previous days result (and defending on set pieces) the coaches and players went into the second game confident with many aspects of their play. Maryland United represented tough opponents ranked in the top 60 in the Nation. In a hard fought game against two very good teams trying to play an attractive brand of soccer the game would be in the balance until the last 10 minutes of play. After some excellent combination play Zander Hartberg was dragged down in the box and FC Wisconsin were awarded a penalty that Gregg Pauly duly dispatched to secure a 1-0 win. This was an excellent hard earned team performance, which showed excellent character to bounce back from the previous days disappointment.
The third game saw the team take on Houston Express where a win and favorable other results could still see the team advance to the finals. FC would start the game well, dominating possession and creating numerous chances before Ethan Hannisko would break the deadlock with a bullet header from a Gregg Pauly corner. FC would continue to dominate the play, but a lapse in concentration at the back would see Houston tie the game before half-time. The 2nd half saw some excellent play from FC with Maddie Conduah putting the team back in front at 2-1, with further goals from Gregg Pauly and Zander Hartberg sealing a 4-1 win and excellent overall performance.
The team would finish in a 3-way tie at the top of the group but unfortunately did not progress to the final losing out on goal differential. The way this team came together and the development and improvement that took place over the course of the week was great to see and exciting for the future.
“The Disney showcase was a tremendous experience for all the players when it came to exposure in front of college coaches. As a staff numerous coaches approached us from all collegiate levels. The positive comments and praise we received for how the teams played was extremely pleasing. I believe we are seeing how our methods at FC Wisconsin are appreciated by college coaches and this will continue to lead to long-term success for all our players”, Said Coach Marty Lataille.
FC Wisconsin U18 NPL Disney Recap:
The U18 NPL Team returned to Disney for the 2nd straight year looking to emulate last year’s U18’s feat of winning the Championship.
FC Wisconsin would start the event with a tough game against FC Virginia ranked in the top 80 in the Nation. The team started well and took an early lead through Ryan Callen’s accomplished finish coming in at the back post after good work from Payton Aranda. In a physical game FC would double their advantage on the stroke of half-time when Ben Leas fed a pass into Zak Wegner’s feet at the top of the box who flicked the ball up before volleying home left footed with an exquisite finish. The 2nd half would see more pressure from FC with plenty of chances created, and when Payton Aranda was upended in the box after a great run, Wegner would double his tally from the penalty spot and give the team a 3-0 lead. A late consolation from FC Virginia saw the game finish 3-1 and marked a solid start for the team.
The 2nd game saw the team take on a very good FC Blazers team from Massachusetts. The game was a physical contest in the first half but midway through the half an excellent through ball by Zak Wegner saw Tode Atlija volley home from just outside the box with a quality finish. FC would come out and dominate the early exchanges in the 2nd half and a fine team move involving Will Hamilton and Payton Aranda saw Tode Atlija side foot home with a cool finish to take a two goal lead. The team would see out the rest of the game for a thoroughly deserved and professional 2-0 win.
SMYRNA FC ranked 4th in Georgia were the teams next opponents. A thoroughly dominating and clinical display saw the team record a 6-0 win. Payton Aranda led the way with a devastating performance notching a hat-trick, and further goals from Tode Atlija, Zak Wegner and Dom DeMaria sealed the win. With the result the team would now advance to the finals and an opportunity to play for the Championship.
The Championship would kick off at 1.00pm and saw the team face SAC Premier from Maryland. From the onset the team took the game to their opponents and it was no surprise when FC took the lead with a glancing header from Antonio DeCastro. The team would continue to dominate all facets of the game and good work by Renzo Albertoni saw a pinpoint cross swept home by Tode Atlija for his 4th of the week to put FC into a commanding 2-0 lead. The rest of the game would see FC continue to take the initiative and play some excellent controlled soccer seeing the game out 2-0 and for the 2nd straight year claiming a U18 Disney Championship for the Club.
“The overall experience for both our teams was tremendous. This was a great opportunity to showcase our teams and players in front of the best college coaches and programs in the country and we are extremely proud of how they all performed over the course of the week. Playing against top opponents from across the country only helps to aid our player’s individual and the teams overall development. Both teams took big steps forward this week and grew together on and off the field as teammates and will learn from the overall experience” said Co-DOC Ben Shepherd.
Congrats to both the U17 and U18 NPL Teams on their achievements.