Nation’s best girls’ soccer teams flock to New Jersey for ECNL’s Zarephath showcase
The Elite Clubs National League resumes its National Showcase Event Series in Zarephath, N.J. this weekend, as the country’s top girls’ club teams convene at the Players Development Academy for the penultimate event of the 2011-12 ECNL season, where many teams will be battling to lock down one of the coveted spots in next month’s ECNL National Championships in Waukegan, Ill.
The ECNL National Showcase Event: Zarephath features Under-15, U-16 and U-17 action in a showcase format with each team playing one match per day from Saturday through Monday. A founding ECNL member club, PDA will host matches at their own fields complex as well as the nearby Morningside Farms facility. Both are located in central New Jersey, about an hour west of New York City.
As with most ECNL events, on Friday the league will open the weekend with one of its Coaching Development Initiatives, featuring the legendary April Heinrichs, Technical Director for the U.S. Women’s National Teams. U.S. Women’s National Team star Ali Krieger will also be on site on Saturday, as part of ECNL’s partnership with Nike’s “The Chance,” a groundbreaking, worldwide talent-identification program.
“For top coaches as well as players, the learning process never stops,” said ECNL Commissioner Sarah Kate Noftsinger in a press release. “And we are committed to helping our coaches develop their training methods and continue their education in the game.”
As part of its mission to enhance the developmental experience of female youth soccer players in the United States, ECNL stages five National Showcase Events per season. Each one brings upwards of 3,000 hotel room nights and an estimated $3-4 million in direct economic impact to its host community.
A very high standard of play is the norm at ECNL National Showcase Events, and the action in Zarephath will include teams from national contenders like Eclipse Select Soccer Club (Ill.) and Arsenal FC (Calif.), along with top Mid-Atlantic clubs like PDA, Albertson SC (N.Y.) FC Delco (Pa.) and FC Virginia.
This week’s tournament, along with the league’s four other National Showcase Events in Phoenix, Sanford, Fla., San Antonio and San Diego, collectively dubbed “The Road to Waukegan,” will help determine ECNL’s national champions while also providing players with unmatched exposure to representatives from the nation’s top collegiate programs as well as the United States Soccer Federation.
ECNL typically welcomes upwards of 300 college recruiters at each event, and scouts from U.S. Soccer are also in attendance, to identify and evaluate players for possible inclusion in United States Youth National Teams.
Each ECNL team at the U-15 and U-18 age groups participates in two national events, while each team at the U-16 and U-17 age groups participates in three of these events.