Missouri Girls ECNL program returned from the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) National Playoffs in San Diego, CA June 24th – 28th with two championships and a finalist. The u15’s (00-01), u16’s (99-00) and u17’s (98-99) all qualified for the event via the teams ECNL regional league play this past Fall and Winter.
The ECNL National Playoff event is when each age group will crown a National champion in what is considered the best youth female soccer league in the world. “Playing in the ECNL National Playoffs is the most challenging but exciting event of all. It’s the event that everyone is competing to win no matter the level of competition. It really makes for highly competitive games and an incredible atmosphere for players and spectators,” said Coach and ECNL Director Richards.
All three teams were guaranteed 3 games in their respective competitions, but in order to play on the fourth and final day for the championship, the teams had to win 3 games back to back. A competitive format that allows for no margin of error and that is exactly what happened with all three groups “Having one team advance to the Championship on the last day would have been great for the club, but for all three teams it was simply Brilliant,” said Richards.
Last Season the same three teams all competed in the Champions League division at the playoffs in Seattle. It was the first time the club had not just one team, but three teams competing at that level. However, the teams performances didn’t go as planned, but the coaching staff was hoping for a better response this season “The girls were focused and ready to make amends for last years post season performances in Seattle. I really noticed a difference in the girls mentality and attitude to be ready for this event.”
Everyday at the event the U15 team would get the club up and running with the early 8:30am game. The U15 team certainly set the tone for the rest of the day with victories over Ohio Elite, Pleasanton Rage and Richmond United. The oldest team followed suit with the 17’s beating three California teams; FC Portland, Mustang SC, and Eagles SC. As the wind seemed to always pick up around 1pm, it made for some interesting and dominating halves for the U16’s. Not to be overawed by the occasion, the U16 team had three great wins of their own beating Concorde Fire, Santa Rosa, and capping off the first three days with a 1-0 win over Regional rivals Sporting BV. Setting up three National Finals on Championship Day.
The U15’s started the final very well and leading at half 1-0 vs. Match Fit from New Jersey. However a rough early ten minutes in the second half and not enough luck in the final twenty minutes; the U15’s came up a little short losing 1-2. For the Girls Director of Coaching Scott McDoniel it was a great game, an exciting final and much more than a loss “I sat and watched the 15’s players and parents shed tear after tear in the team’s post game traditional huddle, not really because they lost a game, but because it was the end of an era, the girls and parents who have come to love each other would play at different ages next year.”
After the heartache first game, the club responded with both the U16’s and U17’s playing at the same time. The U16’s got off to a wonderful start and scored within three minutes. It was the only goal of the game vs. Charlotte Soccer Academy. The same team whom previously beat the U16’s at last year’s National Playoffs 3-1. Scott stated there was a similar feel to that of the U15’s with the team playing as one “The team fought with passion as a family and I wondered how the parents and players, who have such extremely different but positive personalities, day in and day out have a positive impact on the game and the club.”
Fifteen minutes later the U17’s won their final in a very different manner. It took the U17’s about seventy-five minutes to get on the board; finally securing the victory with a late goal to complete the 4 in 4 vs. California teams over the weekend. The first SLSG team to hold aloft the North America Cup trophy. Plus it may have been the first for the ECNL, watching the parents hold aloft the trophy too. Scott said, “I have seen the U17 parents holding up the NA Cup as a group, and deservedly so, a united and positive group who as all the ECNL parents have done, supported and sacrificed and taught their daughters the meaning of the word loyalty.” A sentiment that now resonates with this program along with words such as Passion, Tradition, Humility, Unity and Respect.
A final note by the Girls Director of Coaching Scott McDoniel “I have no doubt that our club and ECNL program has become one of the most respected across the country. I believe it is the good people involved that make this so and I can’t wait to begin the new 2016/17 season!”
Comment from Steve Pecher, Director of Missouri Girls. “The success the Missouri Girls program had this year with ECNL, State Cup, Presidents Cup and SLYSA is due to our Parents, Coaches and Staff working together. We are all looking forward to an even better 2016-17 season.”
SLSGMO ECNL National Playoff Results
Friday, June 24th (round of 16)
15’s Won 2-1 v Ohio Elite
16’s Won 2-0 v Concorde Fire
17’s Won 5-0 v FC Portland
Saturday, June 25th (quarterfinal)
15’s Won 2-0 v Pleasanton Rage
16’s Won 2-0 v Santa Rosa
17’s Won 1-0 v. Mustang SC
Monday, June 27th (semi-final)
15’s Won 3-0 v Richmond United
16’s Won 1-0 v Sporting BV
17’s Won 6-1 v Eagles Soccer Club
Tuesday, June 28th (final)
15’s Lost 1-2 v Match Fit Academy
16’s Won 1-0 v Charlotte Academy
17’s Won 2-0 v Real So Cal
Overall club record of 11-0-1 and winning Two Championships