2012 ECNL National Finals blowing into Chicago
By Jimmy LaRoue and Charles Boehm
An exciting Elite Clubs National League regular season has come to a close and now teams are converging in the Chicago suburbs for the 2012 ECNL National Championship event, taking place June 24-30 at the Waukegan Sports Park.
A weeklong event, the National Finals bring together the nation’s top teams in the Under-14, U-15, U-15, U-16, U-17 and U-18 age groups to crown the ECNL national champions, determine which teams will be promoted and relegated between the league’s A and B Flights and give players unparalleled exposure to hundreds of college coaches from across the nation. All matches will be played at the Waukegan Sports Park.
“The Road to Waukegan” began with the outset of the ECNL regular season in September, and crisscrossed the United States for five ECNL Showcase Events, which are a central part of the league’s mission to enhance the developmental experience of female youth soccer players in the United States.
The series kicked off in Phoenix in October, then moved to the southeast in Sanford, Fla. to close out 2011. In February, teams gathered in San Antonio and about a month later, another set of clubs took a trip west to San Diego. Last month the final showcase of the regular season took place in Zarephath, N.J. as clubs worked to secure playoff berths.
Each team at the U-15 and U-18 age groups participated in two national events, while each team at the U-16 and U-17 age groups participated in three of these events.
A very high standard of play is the norm at ECNL National Showcases, and the 2012 ECNL National Championships will be no exception.
While every ECNL club will be playing in Waukegan, the top 16 Under-15 through U-17 teams in Flight A, as well as the top 16 U-14 and U-18 teams, and the top eight teams in U-15 through U-17 Flight B, will be competing for a national championship.
But even for the teams outside the top of their respective flights, there will still be plenty to play for, as hundreds of college scouts are expected to turn out to scout the nation’s most talented girls’ soccer players.
ECNL typically welcomes upwards of 300 college recruiters at each event, and scouts from U.S. Soccer are also in attendance, to identify and evaluate players for possible inclusion in United States Youth National Teams.