THE ROAD TO RICHMOND: ECNL GIRLS NATIONAL FINALS U13 PREVIEW
For the first time in league history, the U13s will be heading to Richmond.
Due to Hurricane Elsa, the U13s were not able to finish their championship bracket at the National Playoffs in Lakewood Ranch, FL. And with a trophy still needing to be handed out, the remaining four teams will battle it out for a national championship.
Eclipse Select, LAFC Slammers, San Juan and Solar SC all won their Round of 16 and quarterfinal matches, reaching the Final Four and Richmond in the process.
Below is a breakdown of how each team reached Richmond and looking ahead at what’s in store at the ECNL Girls National Finals.
Regular Season: 11-1-2, 2.50 ppg, +47 goal differential
Eclipse Select finished the regular season in first place in the North Division of the Midwest Conference, securing its spot as one of the best 16 teams in the U13 age group. In the U13 Champions League Draw, Eclipse Select was given the No. 8 seed, setting up a first-round match against FC Stars Blue.
In a thrilling opener, FC Stars Blue and Eclipse Select played to a 1-1 draw in regulation, going straight to penalties to decide the winner. In penalty kicks, Eclipse nudged past FC Stars Blue with a 6-5 edge, booking a date with the top-ranked Crossfire United in the process.
Eclipse Select once again rose to the occasion, dispatching Crossfire United in its quarterfinal matchup, pulling off the 2-1 upset.
Next up will be Solar SC, another top team in the country, but given its track record, Eclipse Select will surely be a handful.
Regular Season: 11-0-2, 2.69 ppg, +38 goal differential
LAFC Slammers headed to the National Playoffs as the No. 11 seed after finishing second in the Southwest Conference and without a loss. As the No. 11 seed, LAFC Slammers was ready to be the underdog and play spoiler to a few team’s title hopes.
The team came out against SUSA FC in the Round of 16 game and played the No. 6 seed very closely, with just one goal being the difference as LAFC Slammers was able to advance with a 1-0 win.
Defense continued to lead the way for LAFC Slammers after allowing just three goals during the entire regular season. LAFC Slammers faced off against Tennessee SC and were forced to go to penalty kicks after a 0-0 draw in regulation. In penalty kicks, LAFC Slammers converted on three while allowing just one Tennessee SC tally, clinching the victory and a spot in Richmond.
Regular Season: 7-0-0, 3.00 ppg, +39 goal differential
San Juan SC, one of the few undefeated teams at the U13 age level, finished atop the Bay Area Division of the Northwest Conference and received the No. 15 seed in the 16-team Champions League bracket, opening up against the No. 2 PDA Blue.
In one of the best games of the age group, PDA took a 1-0 lead at the half, but San Juan pulled even midway through the second. Then, in the dying minutes of the game, San Juan converted on a free-kick from long range to take a 2-1 lead and the eventual win.
Using the momentum from an emotional win in the Round of 16, San Juan continued its title run with a 5-3 win against Concorde Fire Platinum, setting up a semifinal matchup against in-state rival LAFC Slammers.
Regular Season: 18-2-2, 2.55 ppg, +51 goal differential
As one of the highest-scoring teams in the country, Solar SC brought that same intensity to the National Playoffs as a No. 13 seed after a second-place finish in the Texas Conference.
Opening its Champions League slate, Solar SC played a back-and-forth affair against So Cal Blues, taking a 4-3 win into the quarterfinals. There, Solar SC continued to find the back of the net, recording a 4-2 win over fellow Texas club Sting Dallas Black.
Now in the Final Four in Richmond, Solar SC will take on the highest remaining seed in Eclipse Select with a spot in the National Championship game on the line.
To learn more about the ECNL Girls National Finals, click here.