FRISCO - In order to win a national championship, a team must show determination and grit. The FC Dallas ECNL U-16 team did just that, and then some, this weekend in San Diego, California, on the way to claiming the ECNL U-16 National Championship.
After coming from 2-0 down in the ECNL U-16 Champions League National Playoffs in Illinois just to qualify for the ECNL National Finals, Dallas once again displayed resiliency in the semifinal and final.
Friday's semifinal match between Dallas and Tophat SC (Georgia) remained scoreless after 80 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of extra time, meaning penalty kicks were needed to determine which team would advance to play FC Stars (Massachusetts) in Saturday's final.
The lengthy shootout lasted eight rounds, with Dallas and Tophat combining to successfully convert the first 14 penalty kicks. However, the eighth round saw Tophat miss from 12 yards out, while Dallas scored, to settle the match and send Dallas into the final.
Saturday's final wouldn't need extra time, but it required Dallas to pull off another come-from-behind victory. FC Stars took a 1-0 lead after 23 minutes of play. However, Dallas quickly responded and the game was tied within minutes thanks to forward Sydney Richards, who slotted a low shot past the goalkeeper.
The game's deciding moment came just minutes into the second half when Dallas took a 2-1 lead off the foot of Reyna Reyes that it wouldn't surrender. The Dallas defense held firm while playing the final 37 minutes of the match with the lead, withstanding a barrage of late corner kicks by FC Stars.
The National Championship puts a cap on a wildly successful season for the U-16 team. The team went 15-1-2 during the regular season and finished in first place in the Texas Conference, before winning four consecutive games at the National Playoffs to earn the trip to California.