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ECNL May 18, 2023

ECNL Girls U12-U14 teams test themselves at South Carolina National Event

This past weekend, ECNL South Carolina was an opportunity for many clubs and younger age groups from around the country to experience an ECNL National Event for the first time.

FC Pride Head Coach Matt Blackbourne, emphasized the importance of building a strong team dynamic, and how going on the road to these events and spending more time together as a team helps develop that.

“The more time that they spend with each other on the road helps to create a closer team dynamic,” Blackbourne said.

For FC Pride, the opportunity to play against other teams from around the country was an invaluable experience. Blackbourne emphasized how good these other teams are and that competing against them shows his players that they belong with these types of other high caliber teams.

[Players That Impressed: ECNL Girls 2023 South Carolina National Event]

“I think coming to an event like this, they only know who they are within their conference, so for them they can draw on the confidence of being competitive and winning games against these teams,” Blackbourne said. “I think that in itself is bigger going into these national events, that they belong with this type of caliber of teams.”

With FC Pride’s 2010s side getting prepared to go to the ECNL National Playoffs in June, Blackbourne believes it was a big opportunity for them to not only build confidence against other strong sides, but maybe even see some teams they will match up with down the road.

“For our 2010s who are going off to the National Playoffs in San Diego it was their first look and their first chance to see teams that they might play later on down the road,” Blackbourne said. “Obviously, the talent level of those teams are outstanding so just being able to match up with those teams and use that as preparation for training going into the playoffs is key.”

“We’re blessed to be in the ECNL and what we feel is the best platform,” Blackbourne said.

For Scorpions Soccer ECNL Director Nick Rugnetta, he believed the opportunity this weekend was a great chance to expose many of the players and families to an ECNL National Event for the first time.

“For their first ECNL tournament experience it was a lot of positives and good to expose the players and the families to the experience of a showcase and the overall level of competition that they’ll see in the future,” Rugnetta said.

Rugnetta believes the excitement the players get from the events helps motivate them to continue to work hard so they can continue to experience such high quality national events as they progress into the older age groups.

“It gives them something to look forward to down the line because they come to these types of events and they see and hear about the older teams going to two or three events a year, so they definitely look forward to it. Once they get here and see all the signs, banners, all the other teams, the music, the Shoebox, the energy of the events, I think it really motivates them to remain a part of the league, a part of our club, and certainly really start to kick into gear what does it take to achieve their goals of being an ECNL player at the higher age groups.”

As they move forward in their season and into next year, Rugnetta expressed how excited he and his players are to get back to events like this in the future.

“It was a great experience for all of our teams and all of our families,” Rugnetta said. “We’re really looking forward to these teams being able to get back to more showcases in the future.”