ECNL National Champions Crowned For ‘18-’19 Season
RICHMOND, VA (July 17, 2019) – The ECNL Champions League is the most demanding youth soccer competition in the United States, requiring consistent top-level performance through a 9-month regular season to even qualify, before facing the best of the best from across the country in the postseason.
Congratulations to all of the 2018-19 ECNL Champions League National Champions.
U13: Player Development Academy (PDA) Blue
In the first-ever ECNL U13 National Championship game, Player Development Academy (Blue) took home the trophy after a thrilling 5-0 victory over Virginia Development Academy (VDA). Both teams did not disappoint in their debut on youth soccer’s biggest stage. Featuring a stout defensive answer at every turn, PDA Blue contained VDA’s attackers and had a solution for almost counter. Each club should be immensely proud of themselves for getting to the National Championship game at this age group and for having the opportunity to let their young stars shine.
Larry Hart — head coach of the U13 National Champions and PDA Assistant Director — said, “The amount of hard work the players put in is so impressive. It takes a lot of separate parts that need to come together for success to happen. But, without the willingness from the players and families, we wouldn’t be able to achieve much. We are so appreciative of their trust in us as a club to help their kids achieve their goals. The process is a beautiful and special thing.”
The U13 semifinal that led PDA into the National Championship was nothing short of stellar as they took on World Class FC, a performance that was the talk of the tournament once all was said and done. From start to finish, this matchup was full of both clubs exhibiting what made them forces to be reckoned with. When the final regulation whistle blew, this matchup went into extra time and ultimately PDA was the victor after finding the net in the first half of extras. World Class FC put forth an amazing effort and came so close to willing themselves into the U13 National Championship game.
U14: Player Development Academy (PDA) Blue
Capturing the organization’s third National Championship of the 2018-2019 ECNL Season, member club Player Development Academy (PDA) Blue finished their U14 season in epic fashion by not only securing a National Championship but also an undefeated season at 32-0. PDA Blue capped off their memorable run with a 3-2 title game victory over LAFC Slammers, one that could be described as an instant classic. PDA Blue scored the go-ahead goal off an acrobatic volley with barely any time left in the game to raise the cup in Richmond.
Nick Heinaman — head coach of the U14 National Champions and U8-U14 Technical Director — said, “We are so fortunate to have so many committed players, families, and coaches! We put in so many hours planning and training as one team/one club, that the family atmosphere and support makes PDA a truly special place. I’ve known and coached my team since they were U8’s and now this fall my daughter begins her PDA on the new U8 team.”
Only Concorde Fire Platinum stood in their way to reach the Championship game and to get a shot at history by completed an undefeated season. In the semifinals, PDA Blue struck early and often against Concorde Fire Platinum, taking a 2-0 lead into the halftime whistle. Concorde came out of the second half gets with intensity and determination, but ultimately PDA Blue struck a third time and changed the flow of the game with a 5-0 victory at the sound of the final whistle.
U15: Gwinnett Soccer Academy (GSA)
Gwinnett Soccer Academy (GSA) capped off a Cinderella run by taking down Player Development Academy (PDA) Blue to capture their first-ever National Championship in the ECNL. GSA’s incredible defensive effort kept PDA at bay much of the match, although PDA Blue was knocking on GSA’s door time and time again trying to get on the board. Ultimately, a stellar goal and a converted PK were the difference-makers in this matchup, as Gwinnett managed to shutout PDA 2-0 to raise the cup in true champion form.
Judson Hamby — head coach of GSA U15’s — said, “We are super excited for GSA to be taking home this honor. The players have done an amazing job of representing GSA and building on the continued success of such a tremendous soccer program. It is a hard road to get here, and we are blessed to have this great opportunity to be named ECNL National Champions. This is what players grow up dreaming about and these players worked extremely hard work to have made it a reality.”
Reigning National Champion MVLA stood in GSA’s way if they had any hope of arriving at their much-anticipated destination of a championship game. Gwinnett answered the call and took down MVLA 2-1 after a match that went back and forth, and kept spectators on the edge of their seats. MVLA was playing catch up in the final 10 minutes of the game and nearly equalized on a couple of close opportunities, but ultimately that GSA defense was ready and willing to do whatever it took to secure a spot with destiny.
U16: So Cal Blues SC
The So Cal Blues SC organization captured their second National Championship of the year in Richmond, as their U16 squad took down an absolute giant in Michigan Hawks. Coming into this matchup, Michigan Hawks were scoring at will and were looking like one of the teams to beat. The Hawks’ showing in San Diego was impressive, to say the least, but So Cal Blues used their substitutions wisely and timely to edge out a narrow 1-0 victory to raise the cup. Doing what they do best, So Cal played like a well-oiled machine and used their technical ability to control the game when it mattered most, ultimately sealing the deal and controlling their destiny as well. They join their U18/U19 sisters as ECNL National Champions.
Abner Rogers — head coach of the U16’s — said, “The team was ready and focused to perform on the biggest stage. Leading up to the championship game, our girls played two very great games, showcasing their willingness and determination to overcome adversity against excellent opponents. We are honored to be crowned ECNL National Champions!”
So Cal Blues faced a scrappy and determined SLSG-MO team in the semifinals, a matchup that was sure-fire entertainment. For a decent amount of the first half, both clubs battled it out by exchanging possessions and creating opportunities. So Cal Blues would strike first and swing the momentum in their favor, forcing SLSG-MO to play catchup and get on the board. Despite a solid effort on both sides of the ball, SLSG-MO fell to So Cal by a score of 3-0 and the Blue’s path was paved to the championship game.
U17: Player Development Academy (PDA) Blue
Capturing their second National Championship as an organization this season, Player Development Academy (PDA) Blue took on a stacked LAFC Slammers team that was ready for their taste of glory in their first season of league play. PDA struck early with a missile from the top of the box but LAFC nearly equalized on a free-kick straight out of a video game that just rattles off the crossbar. Although LAFC Slammers would find the net and put the pressure on PDA Blue, ultimately PDA floored their intensity and wound up with a 4-1 victory to clinch the cup.
Mike O’Neill — head coach of the U17 National Champions and Girls PDA Director of Coaching — said, “The successes of the U17 team was based on their commitment to getting better every day and their desire to be a great team both on and off the field. They created a bond that was inspiring to see each and every day. The success of PDA as a club is due to the players, coaches, and families working together with a shared vision. PDA is a family and a family that is always trying to improve the day-to-day environment for people and player development. It is truly amazing to be part of the PDA.”
In their semifinal matchup, PDA Blue faced off against World Class FC and this was about as entertaining as soccer could get. The first half of play between the two clubs was a display of just how great each club’s defense could possibly be, as neither allowed any quality looks or opportunities until a PDA PK finally put someone on the board. The second half of play was just as defensively stout as the first until PDA struck again at the second water break in front of a crowded net. Up until that point, World Class FC’s keeper was making a series of courageous saves to keep them in the game but ultimately it was not enough.
U18/U19: So Cal Blues SC
In their first of two National Championships for the organization, So Cal Blues faced their toughest test to date going up against a McLean YSA team in San Diego that was destined for greatness. McLean had posed a real threat to So Cal Blues but if there were two things that So Cal does best, it’s their ability to control the ball and make the most of their opportunities. So Cal battled this game out but remain composed and didn’t let any lapses determine their destiny. Concluding with a final score of 3-1, and one epic karate kick of a goal, So Cal Blues SC was crowned the U18/U19 ECNL National Champion.
Greg Baker — head coach of the U18/U19 So Cal Blues — said, “I’m as proud of a group of players that any coach could be. The efforts given on and off the field are second to none, and these girls give it all for each other. I’m glad they’ve been rewarded for their excellence.”
In their semifinal matchup against Sting Dallas, So Cal managed to survive a close with a 1-0 victory against a Sting Dallas team that was determined to reach the championship. Throughout the entire game Sting Dallas’ keeper was playing at a level that showcased the best of her abilities, truly putting in an effort for the ages. So Cal Blues could not manage to take advantage of any Dallas mistakes, mainly because there weren’t many to take advantage of! This was truly an epic game from both clubs.
Congratulations to these teams on their outstanding achievement in being crowned an ECNL National Champion and exemplifying what it means to have #NoCeiling.
About Girls Elite Clubs National League: The Girls Elite Clubs National League (Girls ECNL) was founded in 2009 to enhance the developmental experience of female youth soccer players in the United States through: (i) improving the competitive environment through the creation of a true national competitive league; (ii) improving the process for identifying elite female soccer players through a systematic scouting and identification program based on national competitions; and (iii) improving the daily training environment at top female youth soccer clubs through developing best practices and training and organizational guidelines for its member clubs. The ECNL is sanctioned by US Club Soccer and is sponsored by Nike Soccer.