ECNL Preview: Southeast Clash By Travis Clark, ESNN*
*Courtesy of www.topdrawersoccer.com
RICHMOND, VA (October 12, 2012): Can ECNL games this early in the season be that important?
While most clubs play enough games that mid-October matchups won’t make or break a team’s postseason chances, this point of the season is an opportunity to lay down a marker.
And that’s more or less what’s at stake for the two U18 teams set to go up against each other, as CASLChelsea Ladies host Georgia side Gwinnett Soccer Association this coming on Saturday.
Right now, Gwinnett sits in first place in the Southeast Conference, although they’ve played two more games than CASL on the season, winning both of them. Neither team has lost either, as CASL carries a 3-0-1 conference record, while Gwinnett holds a 5-0-1 mark.
Few club matchups across the country will feature the same level of talent either, as both clubs are stacked with top players. CASL brings Morgan Reid (committed to Duke), Claire Wagner (Clemson), Christina Gibbons(Duke) and Joanna Boyles (North Carolina) to the meeting, to name a few. Alexis Thomas (UNC Greensboro),Lauren Tanner (Georgia), Jill Maloney (Georgia) and McKenzie Bricker (Memphis) are all enjoying strong starts to the season.
By no means does the winner of this game have the upper hand in the conference race, but it’s certainly going to be a good pick me up to whoever wins.
Of course, the matchup also trickles down to each and every age group, meaning the two sides will play a game at the U14-U18 levels this coming weekend.
A number of West Coast teams have started the season very well, and several will put an unbeaten record to the test with another busy weekend. West Coast FC has been very impressive in their five games so far, with forward Sophia Serafin in particular standing out with 10 goals in that stretch so far. West Coast plays Strikers FC on Saturday.
San Diego Surf is also in that category of the unbeaten, with Slammers FC on the docket for this weekend, while Arsenal FC is at home against Eagles Soccer Club.
Starting well is going to provide confidence for any and every team, and FC Dallas has managed to maintain an unbeaten mark through four games in the Texas Conference (2-0-2). Ariel Diaz, with seven goals so far on the year has provided the offensive punch, and will look to continue that against Texas Rush.
The weekend is busy for Concorde Fire (5-0-1 in conference play) as they take on Orlando City Youth Soccer and VSI West Flames (Florida) in a pair of games. Mikayla Krzeczowski, Brook Colangelo, Lily Ammon and Katie MacGinnitie have played a significant role in the team’s positive start.
Texas games are always going to carry high stakes, with ten teams stacked in the conference. And Dallas Texans have leapt out in front of the rest of the competition with six straight conference victories. Madison Haley and her 10 goals will be back in action on Saturday against the Dallas Sting.
Leading the pack right now in the Southeast Conference is Charlotte Soccer Academy, with a perfect four wins from the first four games thus far. A challenging game lies ahead on Sunday against Gwinnett, and forwardsCaylin Prillaman and Lauren Lucas looking to continue help the team keep winning games.
St. Louis Scott Gallagher is looking to climb the ladder in the Midwest Conference, with Eclipse Select and the Michigan Hawks currently top two right now, St. Louis needs to pick up a win against this weekend’s opponents Sockers FC.
A pair of clubs from Virginia – the Rush and McLean Youth Soccer – is set to take each other on this weekend. Neither has played an ECNL game since mid-September, meaning that it’s still too early to know how things may shake out in the Midatlantic Conference. McLean’s Kaila Williams and Thyla Peterson performed well in their first two games of the season.
One of the newest teams in the ECNL, MVLA has thrived so far at this age group. While standout midfielderSarah Robinson has been limited in action so far, Zoe Pacalin has been one of the offensive producers with four goals in five games. MVLA takes on the Pleasanton Rage aiming to extend a winning streak.
U17 WNT defender Brittany Basinger will likely be back in action in the ECNL as her FC Virginia side faces their first game since the unlucky World Cup exit. Her side takes the trip south to Richmond, Va., for a meeting with the Strikers.
During the early stretch of the season, TSC Hurricane has been a genuine offensive force that few teams have been able to slow down. This weekend’s opponents, Challenge SC and Albion Hurricanees FC, will look to slow down the likes of Elizabeth Keester, Anna Beffer and Kristen Killion in a pair of matches.