ECNL Playoffs: National titles, qualifiers decided in Seattle
The top ECNL teams from the 2014-2015 regular season gathered in Seattle this week for one of the league’s marquee events, which includes the U-14 and U-18 National Finals, the U-15 to U-17 Champions League Playoffs and the U-15 to U-17 North American League Finals.
Slammers FC U-14 and Michigan Hawks U-18 claimed national titles, while Dallas Sting U-15, Minnesota Thunder Academy’s U-16 and U-17 sides won North American League championships, the ECNL’s second tier of postseason competition.
Eight group winners in the U-15, U-16 and U-17 Champions League divisions – the ECNL’s highest level of postseason competition – earned spots in the ECNL Champions League Finals, held July 14-18 in Richmond, Va.
See below for a recap of the ECNL Playoffs in Seattle.
U-14 National Finals
Champion: Slammers FC | Finalist: San Diego Surf
Slammers FC grinded their way to five wins in as many days in Seattle, outscoring opponents 13-3 in the process. After sweeping Group A with 2-0, 3-2 and 2-0 wins over Solar Chelsea SC, Bethesda SC and Sporting Blue Valley, Slammers routed Michigan Hawks 4-1 in the semifinal before blanking San Diego Surf 2-0 in the title match.
U-15 Champions League Playoffs
Group Winners: Crossfire Premier, Solar Chelsea SC, So Cal Blues, Real Colorado, D’Feeters SC, Michigan Hawks, West Coast FC, Colorado Storm
Eight teams prevailed as playoff group champions in Seattle, advancing to the Champions League Finals. Three teams – Crossfire Premier, Solar Chelsea SC and So Cal Blues – went a perfect 3-0-0 in Group A, Group B and Group C, respectively.
Texas side Solar Chelsea not only went unbeaten, but did not allow a single goal, outscoring opponents 10-0. While the back line was nearly flawless throughout the event, Catiana Lychywek led the attack with 3 goals, Courtney Sebazco racked up 3 assists and MacKenzie McFarland added 1 goal and 2 assists.
U.S. Youth National Team forward Sophie Smith paced Group D champion Real Colorado (2-0-1) with 2 goals and 2 assists, while Haley Archuleta netted three.
U-15 North American League
Champion: Dallas Sting | Finalist: Eagles SC
Dallas Sting won four straight matches by multi-goal margins to claim the U-15 North American League title, culminating with a 2-0 shutout of Eagles SC in the final. Sting outscored FSA FC, World Class FC and Arsenal FC by a combined 12-4 scoreline leading up to the championship match.
U-16 Champions League Playoffs
Group Winners: De Anza Force, So Cal Blues SC, Match Fit Academy, FC Stars of Massachusetts, Lonestar SC, West Coast FC, Orlando City SC, Las Vegas Premier SA
De Anza Force, Match Fit Academy and West Coast FC had unblemished 3-0-0 records in Groups A, C and F respectively. De Anza Force dominated Group A, scoring 14 goals and conceding just one.
Boston College commit Olivia Vaughn netted 5 goals in the three wins for Match Fit, including a hat trick in the team’s Group C finale against Colorado Rush, a 5-2 victory.
The back line of West Coast FC earned clean sheets in 3-0 and 1-0 wins over Crossfire United and TSC Hurricane, and allowed just 1 goal on the weekend in a 3-1 win over Charlotte Soccer Academy on Saturday in their playoff opener.
Group G champion Orlando City SC and Group H champion Las Vegas Premier both went unbeaten, earning two wins and one draw. U.S. U-18 Women’s National Team midfielder and 2016 University of Colorado commit Taylor Kornieck was dominant, scoring 3 goals and assisting two others. Forward Calista Reyes matched Kornieck’s 3 goals and added an assist.
U-16 North American League
Champion: Minnesota Thunder Academy | Finalist: FC Wisconsin Eclipse
The U-16 North American League Final came down to penalty kicks between two Midwestern neighbors, Minnesota Thunder Academy and FC Wisconsin Eclipse following a 1-1 draw in regulation and overtime. Minnesota Thunder prevailed, capping off their unbeaten run in Seattle. Minnesota went 3-0-0 in the first rounds of the playoffs, as Adrienne Richardson (2 goals, 1 assist) and Mikayla Hughes (1 goal, 2 assists) ignited the attack.
U-17 Champions League Playoffs
Group Winners: Eclipse Select SC, San Diego Surf, PDA, Slammers FC, Real Colorado, Crossfire Premier, Dallas Sting, Santa Rosa United
Five of the eight group champions and National Finals qualifiers – Eclipse Select SC (Group A), PDA (Group C), Slammers FC (Group D), Real Colorado (Group E) and Dallas Sting (Group G) – had unblemished 3-0-0 records, several in dominating fashion. Dallas Sting and Eclipse Select SC had impressive goal differentials of 11 and 10, making statements as they prepare for Richmond.
U-17 North American League
Champion: Minnesota Thunder Academy | Finalist: SLSG – Missouri
Minnesota Thunder teams claimed ownership of the U-16 and U-17 North American League titles. The U-17 side started off Tuesday morning with a 1-0 win in the final over SLSG – Missouri before the U-16s edged out FC Wisconsin that afternoon. The Minnesota U-17s knocked off Challenge SC 2-0, Strikers FC 2-1 and Lonestar SC 5-2 before completing their perfect 4-0-0 postseason run with stifling defense against SLSG.
U-18 National Finals
Champion: Michigan Hawks | Finalist: West Coast FC
Michigan Hawks won four and tied one match during their run to the ECNL U-18 title, which culminated with a 2-0 blanking of West Coast FC, one of the strongest teams in the country throughout the 2014-2015 season. Michigan opened their playoff run with a 2-1 win over Washington Premier, followed by a 6-1 rout of FC Bucks and a 1-1 draw against a tough Ohio Elite Soccer Academy side in their final group match. Hawks earned a 2-1 win over Crossfire Premier in the semifinals before knocking off West Coast in the final.