THE ROAD TO RICHMOND: ECNL GIRLS NATIONAL FINALS U17 PREVIEW
The best of the best are heading to Richmond, Virginia for the ECNL Girls National Finals, where four teams will battle it out for a national championship.
LAFC Slammers, MVLA, Solar SC and United Futbol Academy all finished at the top of their group at the ECNL Girls National Playoffs in Lakewood Ranch, FL, advancing to the knockout out round quarterfinal where each team earned one more victory to head to the National Finals.
Below is a breakdown of each team’s path to the Finals and what can be expected when they get to Richmond.
Regular Season: 12-0-1, 2.85 ppg, +8 goal differential
LAFC Slammers entered the ECNL Girls National Playoffs in first place in the Southwest Conference and was seeded at the top of Group C with Crossfire Premier, Charlotte SA and Tennessee SC.
LAFC Slammers opened group play, defeating Tennessee SC by a score of 4-0. In the second game, LAFC Slammers narrowly eked out a win against Charlotte SA 1-0 and then closed out group play with a 3-2 victory against Crossfire Premier, booking its spot in the knockout round in the process.
In the quarterfinals, LAFC Slammers matched up against Ohio Elite and fought its way to a 3-1 win, securing a spot at Richmond for the ECNL Girls National Finals.
Regular Season: 6-1-0, 2.57 ppg, +12 goal differential
MVLA headed into the ECNL Girls National Playoffs in second place in the Bay Area Division of the Northwest Conference. The team was ranked second in its group, paired up with Michigan Hawks, McLean YS and Match Fit Academy.
MVLA began group play with a 4-0 victory against McLean YSA, then followed it up with a 2-0 win versus Match Fit Academy. With both teams at six points, the final group play game against Michigan Hawks would see the winner advance and the loser go home. MVLA stepped up and capped off group play with a 2-0 win, being the only team in the age group to not allow a single goal during the group stage.
Advancing from the group stage, MVLA had a date with Concorde Fire Platinum with a spot at the National Finals on the line. The team answered the bell, beating Concorde Fire Platinum 3-1, punching its ticket to Richmond.
Regular Season: 19-1-1, 2.76 ppg, +76 goal differential
Solar SC entered the ECNL Girls National Playoffs as one of the best teams in the country and sporting one of the highest goal differentials of any team. It was seeded first in Group D, competing with Eastside FC, NC Courage and East Meadow.
Solar SC started its group play schedule with a 4-0 win against East Meadow and then earned a 5-1 win against NC Courage in game two. Firmly in the lead and needing just one point to secure its spot in the quarterfinals, Solar SC cruised to a 3-0 win, solidifying a perfect group round.
In the knockout round, Solar SC was paired up against fellow Texas club FC Dallas, and in a highly-contested affair, Solar pulled out a 1-0 victory, locking up a spot in Richmond.
Regular Season: 11-3-2, 2.19 ppg, +36 goal differential
United Futbol Academy finished the regular season third in the Southwest Conference and was placed second in Group H, along with PDA Blue, DKSC and Crossfire United.
Opening up its group play with a match against DKSC, UFA drew 3-3, earning a point but creating an uphill battle to get out of the group. UFA then defeated Crossfire United 5-2, moving into a tie for the top of the group with DKSC with one game to go. In the group play finale, UFA recorded a 3-1 win versus PDA Blue, while DKSC also won its match, still keeping them tied at the top of the group. Due to a better goal differential, UFA advanced to the knockout round.
UFA drew Real Colorado National for its quarterfinal matchup and defeated the Northwest Conference foe by a score of 3-2, earning its place in Richmond.
“When we met for our first training session this season, we talked about being consistent, competitive and how we all had to believe in each other in order to reach our goal of winning a national championship,” said Iggy Moleka, Executive Director of Soccer for UFA. “As a coach, I am not surprised to be here. We have worked hard and the hard work has paid off. There are a lot of great clubs with very strong players and coaches. To be here as a club is a testament to the work these girls have put in and risen to the challenge. It is an honor to represent UFA as one of the four remaining teams competing for the championship.”
To learn more about the ECNL Girls National Finals, click here.