ECNL Phoenix National Event features appetizing matchups
By Jimmy LaRoue
The Elite Clubs National League kicks off its first National Event of the 2012-13 season in Phoenix this weekend with about 140 teams taking part.
“The Phoenix region played host to a fantastic National Event a year ago. We can’t wait to kick off another great weekend of quality soccer,” said ECNL Commissioner Sarah Kate Noftsinger in a statement. “Our league continues improve and evolve, I have no doubt that this season will be our best yet.”
Games will take place at the Reach 11 Sports Complex and the Scottsdale Sports Complex from Saturday through Monday.
Though this weekend’s National Event features many strong Under-14 through U-18 teams, Bethesda SC’s U-14s (3-0-0) will be among the few clubs in action outside of the Phoenix, as it will play a pair of games in Ohio this weekend against Internationals and Ohio Premier Eagles–each 0-0-1. Bethesda has given up just one goal in three matches while scoring 13, which includes an 8-0 win last weekend against Virginia Rush.
Jamie Fink and Olivia Kane lead Bethesda with three goals and two assists, each, while Natalie Gately has two goals and three assists of her own.
Bethesda SC and Freestate Soccer Alliance’s ECNL teams are both making the Ohio roadie this weekend to face Internationals and Ohio Premier Eagles. The respective U-15 through U-18 teams are all opening their seasons this weekend.
In U-15s this weekend, how will Real Colorado fare? It is off to a 5-0-0 start and has scored 25 goals while giving up just two. It has three shutouts in five games, and has given up single goals in the other two. It faces Arsenal FC–last season’s U-14 champions–and Slammers FC from the SoCal Conference, and Eclipse Select Soccer Club in the Midwest Conference.
Dallas Texans’ U-15s are also off to a 5-0-0 start and has also given up just two goals. The Texans are led by Madison Haley with half of the team’s 12 goals, while Haley Berg has added four more.
Look for a strong U-16 matchup Sunday in Phoenix between 3-0-0 Eclipse Select Soccer Club and 3-1-1 Real Colorado, and with undefeated and unscored upon So Cal Blues (3-0-0) facing Dallas Sting (3-0-1) on Saturday. Sting has scored 19 goals and has three shutouts in their wins.
For the U-17s, defending ECNL champions Slammers FC are off to a 2-1-0 start, defeating Arsenal FC and West Coast FC, while sandwiching a loss in between to So Cal Blues in a strong So Cal Conference.
CASL Chelsea Ladies U-18s, coming off a 2011-12 ECNL championship over Michigan Hawks, will make an appearance in Phoenix this weekend and face San Diego Surf, Slammers FC and Dallas Texans without midfielder Joanna Boyles, as well as defenders Claire Wagner and Morgan Reid, who are in Azerbajian with the U.S. Under-17 women’s national team. Slammers, meanwhile, are without Maddie BAuer to the U.S. U-17s.
This is the first of five national events for the ECNL’s U-15 through U-18 teams throughout its eight-month regular season, culminating with the ECNL Finals next summer. The U-14s will have their own series of events this year, some in joint appearances with the upper ages, as it will this weekend, and then other events on their own. Those U-14 events besides this weekend include events in Seattle, Wash., Rockford, Ill., Richmond, Va., Frisco, Texas, San Diego, Calif., Greer, S.C. and Aurora, Colo.
The 2012-13 National Event Series kicks off in Phoenix, continues in Sanford, Fla. in December, resumes in Frisco, Tx. in February, moves on to San Diego in April and concludes at the Players Development Academy’s showcase tournament in Zarephath, N.J. in May. The ECNL postseason begins with the National Playoff in Aurora, Colo. in June.
Look for live soccerwire.com coverage throughout the weekend live from Phoenix.