HAWKS FINISH AS RUNNERS UP IN EMERALD CUP!
Apr. 2, 2012
March 31 - April 1 - This past weekend, the Freebird Hawks traveled to Overland Park to compete for the first time in the Emerald Cup Tournament. Facing some of the top U9 talent in the area, the Hawks were able to advance to the championship game of the U9 Gold division. In a rematch of an earlier encounter that ended in a draw, the Hawks fell behind early and could never find the equalizer in a 1-0 loss. Still, it was an impressive and exciting weekend for the Hawks, who represented the Northland well down south.
Hawks 5, KC Fusion Academy - Wilson 1
Saturday morning - As is their custom, the Hawks came out firing in the tournament's opener, putting away a difficult opponent with relative ease. The Hawks jumped to a 2-0 halftime lead, as Olivia opened the scoring with lovely left-footed shot over the keeper's head. The assist on the goal was made by Alivia, who then followed that up with a rocket shot into the goal off a direct free kick to make it 2-0.
In the second half, Mikayla took a long cross from Maya and knocked one past the keeper to make it 3-0. Maya then took the ball, pulled a nice 'V' move on a defender, and finished with a shot off the far post to make it 4-0 Hawks. Though they gave up a goal to KC Fusion, the Hawks responded in strong fashion as McKenzie dribbled through traffic and snuck it past the keeper to finish off the scoring.
Hawks 0, Lou Fusz - Zakaria Red 2
Saturday afternoon - As is their custom, the Hawks followed up a tournament opening win with a lackluster afternoon game, as they ran into a fired up squad from St. Louis and were shut out 2-0. The Hawks gave up a bad goal early on, but after that, controlled play all game long. Problem is, they couldn't find the back of the net. For example, Maya had two excellent drives into the Lou Fusz goalbox, but one shot bounced off the post, and the other zipped about 6 inches wide of the far post. Several times, the Hawks made runs up the field, while the defense shut down a dangerous attack. Eventually, with a couple of minutes left, Lou Fusz counter-attacked and hit an open forward on the backside for an easy goal...essentially ending the game.
Hawks 2, KCFC Robins 2
Sunday morning - In a virtual must-win against the U9 Gold division's undefeated top seed, the Hawks rebounded in excellent fashion from their disappointing loss the night before. In their first 7:00 AM game, the Hawks looked wide awake as they jumped to an early 2-0 lead over the Robins. On a gorgeous corner kick from Alivia, McKenzie was able to beat the keeper to the near post and slam it home for a 1-0 lead. Minutes later, a Robins handball in the box set up the Hawks for a penalty kick. Coach Duke called on Maya to take the kick, and she didn't disappoint by blasting a shot off the diving keeper's hands and into the left corner of the goal. Unfortunately, the 2-0 lead only lasted about 10 seconds, as the Robins took the kickoff down the middle of the field and sent a shot into the Hawks goal to make it 2-1.
In the second half, it was an even back-and-forth affair. Despite having several opportunities to extend their lead, the Hawks just couldn't manage to find the back of the net. The Robins, however, were able to slide one by Hawks goalkeeper Kirsten to tie it up at 2-2. To the chagrin of both teams, particularly the Hawks, that's how the game ended. To advance, the Hawks would need the other two teams in their division to tie in their head-to-head matchup. Miraculously, Lou Fusz and KC Fusion Academy - Wilson would do just that, tying 1-1. With goal differential being the tiebreaker, the Hawks advanced to the championship final, thanks in large part to their 5-1 opening win.
Hawks 0, KCFC Robins 1
Sunday afternoon (Championship game) - The Hawks got just what they wanted - a championship game rematch against the KCFC Robins, who they had tied earlier in the day. Unfortunately, the Hawks gave up a first half goal to the Robins, who basically held on for dear life the rest of the game. Despite having several opportunities to tie up the game, outshooting the Robins by a large margin, the Hawks could never find the equalizer. Coach Duke didn't help things as he missed much of the first half, participating in the U8 Ravens championship ceremony. Because a few of his pregame plans were thrown a bit awry, he struggled himself to get into the rhythm of the game. Though not happy with the situation, he felt he let the team down a bit. But the Hawks played well in the final game, and the Robins coach said as much, as he admitted later that the better team did not win the game.
Overall, Coach Duke was extremely proud of the Hawks for their play and effort all tournament long. They were given the toughest road in their division, but they responded like champs and deserved their title game appearance. Up front, the team was led by McKenzie, who has never played better. Her hustle and skill, both offensively and defensively, was a sight to behold. Maya also played very well, and Coach Duke saw definite improvement in her ability to drive to the goal. Olivia has always been strong offensively, but she showed growth defensively all weekend long. Giving her usual great effort, Mikayla played very well all weekend long. Though she didn't see as many minutes as she usually does (due to McKenzie's outstanding play), Dylan was terrific off the bench. Her ability to cut on a dime made several of her opponents look silly. Malia also contributed good minutes off the bench, making several nice runs up both the right and left sidelines. In the back, Alivia and Delaney proved to be a brick wall to most opponents, while Arlee and Lauren H were both solid off the bench. Kirsten had several excellent saves throughout, none more amazing than a leaping deflection of a Lou Fusz rocket shot that skimmed just over the crossbar. Coach Duke told the Hawks after the championship loss that he was very proud of them. They played very well and gave him 100%, which is all he could ask of them. Coach Duke and the Hawks look to learn from the loss and keep improving as the spring season rolls along.
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