ECNL Boys National Finals Preview: U14 semifinalists head to St. Louis
And then there were four.
After an extremely competitive regular season and ECNL Boys National Playoffs, the first-ever postseason for ECNL Boys, four teams have advanced to the National Finals to compete for a national championship.
Arlington Soccer, Crossfire Premier, Florida Premier and San Diego SC all advanced out of their groups in Greensboro at the National Playoffs and made it through the Round of 16 to advance to St. Louis.
Below is a breakdown of how each team reached the National Finals and looking ahead at what’s in store in St. Louis.
Regular Season: 12-0-3, 2.60 ppg, +39 goal differential
Arlington Soccer finished at the top of the Mid-Atlantic Conference, being the only team that finished the regular season without a loss. In fact, Arlington waited until the seventh game of the season to see its first draw.
Arlington prided itself on a potent attack this season, registering 58 goals for in just 15 games, for an average of 3.87 goals per contest. The result of that offense was eight of its 12 wins came by two or more goals.
At the National Playoffs, Arlington was placed in Group H with GSA, Louisville City and MVLA, where the team went 2-0-1, and then added a win in the knockout round to advance to the National Finals in St. Louis.
Regular Season: 13-0-1, 2.86 ppg, +45 goal differential
Another undefeated club heading into the postseason, Crossfire Premier finished first in the Northwest Conference, recording five more wins than any other rival club. Crossfire’s season began with two wins, but then the team faced Washington Premier, which gave them their only draw of the season, a 3-3 tie. Following that match, Crossfire Premier rattled off 11 straight victories. And excluding that 3-3 draw, Crossfire Premier allowed just six other goals in its 13 games this season, specializing in stifling defense.
Crossfire Premier headed to the National Playoffs as a member of Group D, along with Pipeline SC, Pateadores and SLSG, where the club went 4-0-0 combined in group play and the knockout round.
Regular Season: 14-1-1, 2.69 ppg, +52 goal differential
Florida Premier came out of the gates firing on all cylinders to begin the season, scoring a ridiculous 21 goals in its first three contests, all of which were understandably wins. In fact, Florida Premier kicked off the season with a nine game unbeaten streak before suffering a 4-2 loss to Florida Elite in its 10th game of the year, its only loss of the year. Florida Premier responded with six more wins to close out the season, once again relying on a high-powered offense, scoring a total of 23 goals during that stretch. Florida Premier’s play resulted in a first-place finish in the Florida Conference and one of the best goal totals in the country.
In North Carolina, Florida Premier was grouped together with VDA, Houston Dynamo Youth and Penn Fusion, where the team went a combined 3-0-1 in group play and in the knockout round.
San Diego SC
Regular Season: 15-0-1, 2.88 ppg, +55 goal differential
San Diego SC marks the fourth of the four Finals-bound teams to finish first in their respective divisions, carried by a 16-game unbeaten streak. After playing one game in October and one in November, San Diego SC completed 14 games in a four-month span. The first game in that stretch was a 0-0 draw to Slammers FC, and then San Diego SC closed out the season on a 10-game winning streak. Along the way, the team shut out its opponent 10 times and only allowed four goals all year. Coupled with a 59 goal total, and San Diego headed into the National Playoffs as a favorite.
San Diego SC joined Tulsa SC, Florida Elite and United Futbol Academy in Group C, going 3-0-0 and adding another win in the knockout stage to advance to St. Louis.