As we enter the winter months and begin the wind down on our High School Girls ECNL season, we wish to reflect on the Fall Season – all the great moments, memories, and progress made, as well looking forward to the months to come.
The fall season starts with a bang for our high school aged teams as they begin with preseason camp at Principia College. The annual kick off camp consists of 3 days of team activities, team building, and training sessions, and signals the beginning of a 6-week preseason before heading into ECNL Midwest Conference games in September. As a member of the ECNL Midwest Conference, we are exposed to the top competition around the country in teams like the Michigan Hawks (Detroit, MI), Eclipse Select (Oak Brook, IL), SLSG MO (Fenton, MO), KC Athletics (Kansas City, MO), Minnesota Thunder Academy (Richfield, MN), Vardar (Detroit, MI), FC Wisconsin (Germantown, WI), and Elite Girls Academy (Omaha, NE). In addition to playing 15 conference games, each team participates in ECNL Showcases. Thus, far, we have attended the ECNL Phoenix Showcase in November with our U19s, U17s, U16s, and U15s. Next up will be ECNL Florida Showcase in January with the U17s and U16s. We wrap up the season with the ECNL Houston Event with the U17s, U16s, and U15s, before the girl’s head into their high school seasons.
Following the Christmas Holiday, the U16s and U17s began training again to prepare for the ECNL Florida Showcase. The Florida Event is an important event for the players for a multitude of reasons. 1- it can be the push needed to solidify spots in ECNL playoffs, and 2- it has been the event with the highest college coach attendance, with games having upwards of 60 coaches last year. As in the past, Florida did not disappoint this year. Hundreds of coaches came out to watch the U16s and U17s play, with day one seeing 60 and 70+ coaches at each team’s game. From a performance standpoint, it was a great weekend for the girls. The U16s went 2-1 on the weekend, and the U17s went 3-0 on the weekend. Both groups getting some well-earned points heading into the Houston Showcase in February. The next month will consist of training and PTC for our U17s, U16s, and U15s as they prepare for their final event before High School Soccer kicks off in March. Good luck to all players!
Finally, big congratulations to our seniors who completed their final games of their ECNL careers in December. We are so proud of you all for the commitment and work you have put in to your time with the club, and are excited to see where your futures take you. Thank you, players and parents, for the endless number of hours spent driving to and from training and games, weekends on the road, missed school dances and activities, and the endless support.
This December, a current SLSG IL ECNL player, Jordan Gary, and former SLSG IL ECNL player, Ella Sanchez (relocated to Louisville with her family), were invited in to compete in the International Champions Cup Futures tournament (ICC). This event has been running for 7 years, but this was the first year it expanded to include a youth futures category. The youth category is composed of 12 - U15 girl’s teams - 4 UEFA teams, the final 4 ECNL teams, and 4 Regional All Star Teams. The Midwest Team was composed of players from different teams across the Midwest, based on tryouts that were held in August. The event spanned 5 days and was held in Florida at IMG Academy.
When asked about their experience, Ella and Jordan both had positive things to say – a top-notch facility and top-notch players with 5 days to compete at the top level. Both players described what an incredible opportunity it was for them to not only play against the best in the world, but also just the overall experience and professionalism of the event. When asked about their favorite part of the week, the girls noted:
Jordan - “My favorite part was the overall environment of the tournament. Every night we watched the featured game at the stadium, and the hype there was unreal. Even at the games, you had random teams watching and cheering. The support and sportsmanship for everyone in the tournament was incomparable.”
Ella - “My favorite part was playing against girls from all different areas, and from some of the best clubs in the world.”
Congratulations to both players on a successful weekend and outstanding representation of yourselves, your teammates, and the club. We are proud of you!
Class of 2020 College Commitments
Zoe Ahlers- University of Evansville
Hannah Bielicke- Jacksonville University
Ally Cheeley- Lewis & Clark
Sidney Christopher- Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville
Courtney Feltz- TBD
Elena Fridley- McKendree University
Peyton Ganz- University of Southern Indiana
Casey Hansen- Truman State University
Gabby Holtrop- Jacksonville University
Ainsley Hurford- TBD
Rileigh Kuhns- University of Missouri Kansas City
Anna Stearns- Lewis University
Sydni Stevens- University of Massachusetts
Liesl Whitener- Augustana College