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ECNL Jun 29, 2023

ECNL Boys 2023 National Playoffs: Knockout Stages Progress on Day 4

On day four of the ECNL Boys National Playoffs from Greensboro, the U18/19 teams were back in action for quarterfinals in the Champions League and North American Cup, while the U15-U17s concluded group stage play and determined who advanced into the round of 16.

U18/19 Champions League

The U18/19 teams were back in action on Wednesday with eight teams looking to earn their spot in the final four, and the games were full of fireworks.

Dallas Texans Academy and Match Fit Academy was a tight battle throughout. The Dallas Texans opened the scoring in the second half after Match Fit had just narrowly missed opening the scoring themselves on a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar.

With things getting late, Match Fit found the equalizer from a set piece that was flicked onto goal and bounced in to level things up at 1-1.

Both teams pushed hard for a game winner, but it looked like the game was destined to be decided by penalties, until the Texans found the game winning goal in the final minutes of the game to advance to the semifinals.

After the game, Dallas Texans Assistant Coach Arturo Rosales talked about what a great performance it was from both sides, and how his team was able to fight for the final goal in the closing minutes.

“They were very organized,” Rosales said. “It was tied, but they fought the last five minutes and that’s all we can ask for.”

With his team needing to turn right around and go again in the semifinals, Rosales believes regrouping and resting will be key for his side’s next game.

“Right now we’re going to regroup and rest, maybe not think about soccer tonight, and come ready for tomorrow.”

In another of the Champions League quarterfinals, it took penalties for San Diego Surf to see their way into the semifinals over Pateadores.

San Diego Surf opened the scoring in the first half on a wonderful free kick from the top of the box that was bent around the Pateadores wall to make it 1-0.

That 1-0 score held for a while despite numerous opportunities from both sides throughout the game. The Pateadores pressure eventually resulted in a penalty kick opportunity in the second half that they converted to knot things up at 1-1.

The penalty kicks came down to sudden death, and in the end it was San Diego Surf moving on to the semifinals to take on the Dallas Texans.

“These games are just so edgy that it’s always on a knife edge,” San Diego Surf Head Coach Danny Tonks said following the game. “We talk about personality, charisma, and culture, and these are the moments when we have to suffer and dig for each other.”

Much like Texans, Tonks also discussed the need to be able to quickly turn the page and be ready to go again tomorrow in a tough semifinal matchup.

“Penalties can go either way. Luckily we were on the good side of it today, but nothing but proud of the boys,” Tonks said. “Now it’s time to bottle this emotion, chill it, and go again tomorrow.”

In the other two quarterfinal games, Gretna Elite found a late equalizer to dramatically send their game to penalties against NEFC, before NEFC was able to advance into the semifinals on the kicks. In the semifinals they’ll face off against KC Scott Gallagher who advanced by way of a narrow 1-0 over Beach FC in the other quarterfinal game.

U18/19 North American Cup

In the North American Cup quarterfinals, Concorde Fire Platinum, Louisville City Academy, SDSC Surf, and NTH-NASA all punched their semifinal tickets following quarterfinal victories on Wednesday.

Louisville City advanced into the semifinals following a 1-0 over Houston Dynamo Youth and will square off with Concorde Fire in the semifinals after they advanced past Davis Legacy 4-1.

In the other semifinal, SDSC Surf will take on NTH-NASA after Surf picked up a 3-1 win over La Roca FC and NTH-NASA got past San Juan SC 2-1 in their quarterfinal matchup.

U17 Champions League

The U17 Champions League group stage concluded Wednesday, with the 16 group winners moving into the knockout stage of the competition.

Pipeline SC, Eclipse Select SC, Seattle United, NEFC, and Richmond United enter into the round of 16 after posting perfect 3-0 records through the group stage.

Marin FC, Ohio Premier, El Camino FC Salinas, Legends FC, Houston Dynamo Youth, Cleveland Force, CESA Triumph, and Dallas Texans Academy all moved into the round of 16 after picking up much needed wins on the final day of group play to win their groups.

Heat FC, LAFC So Cal, and Legends FC comprise the remainder of the round of 16, with all three picking up draws on Wednesday to get the final point they needed to see themselves into the knockout stage.

All 16 teams will be in action on Friday as they now stand one win away from advancing to the ECNL Boys National Finals in Norco, California.

U16 Champions League

The round of 16 in the U16 Champions League was also finalized on Wednesday as group play concluded and the 16 group winners were determined.

Pipeline SC, LA Breakers FC, Legends FC, NTH-NASA, and South Carolina Surf finished off perfect group stage performances picking up all nine points through their three group stage games.

San Diego Surf, Florida Premier FC, FC Bucks Dominion, Parkland SC, Crossfire Premier, Richmond United, and San Antonio City advanced through the group stage going unbeaten through their three games, with San Antonio City narrowly advancing as group winners by one goal in goal differential.

CESA Triumph, World Class FC, Manhattan SC, and Eclipse Select SC round out the last 16 teams who will advance into Friday’s games, one win away from booking their place in the ECNL Boys National Finals in July.

U15 Champions League

The last age group to decide their round of 16 on Wednesday were the U15s. The 16 groups of teams finished out their final group stage game, with the 16 champions advancing to Friday’s round of 16.

MVLA, NEFC, Slammers FC, Florida Premier FC, Seattle United, World Class FC, and DKSC picked up all their points from the group stage and moved into the round of 16 with three wins so far in Greensboro.

Crossfire Premier, VDA, Oklahoma Energy FC, Chicago Magic, Dallas Texans Academy and Utah Avalanche all moved into the round of 16 after going unbeaten and picking up seven points across their three group stage games.

Lehigh Valley United, Sporting Nebraska FC, and Albion Hurricanes all went 2-1 in the group stage to pick up six points and make up the rest of the group stage winners.

All 16 teams now move to within one win of qualifying for the ECNL Boys National Finals.

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