ECNL TENNESSEE DAY 1: BACK ON THE BIG STAGE

On Friday night, the exceptional talent of the ECNL Girls was showcased in the Continental Tire ECNL National Selection Game. Friday night’s game featured a collection of players from the U16-U18/19 age groups and took place at Richard Siegel Soccer Complex in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

On the field, the East quickly gained the upper hand on the West.

In the 14th minute, Lauren Kenny (Pleasanton Rage) finished off a shot inside the box to put the East up 1-0. The goals did not stop there for the East though. Before halftime the East tacked on goals from Emeri Adames (Solar SC) and Jordynn Dudley (UFA) to extend their lead to 3-0.

On her goal, Dudley said she found herself in a bit of open space and was fortunate to receive a great pass from one of her teammates.

“I asked for the ball, they played me a good ball and I just went and finished it,” Dudley said. “It was really exciting. I didn’t do the celebration I planned, but it’s all good.”

Just before halftime the West drew one back on a goal by Olivia Silcox (UFA) to send both sides into the break with the East up 3-1.

The East continued to control play as the second half began and it did not take them long to find their fourth of the night. Skye Barnes (Florida Kraze Krush) put one home to extend the lead back up to three goals.

As the second half progressed both sides exchanged goals, but it would not be enough for the West to catch up as the East were able to fend off any second half challenges and hold on to win it 5-2.

For many of the players, the atmosphere and experience of the game stood out as a very memorable moment for them.

“It was an honor to be picked,” Dudley said. “It was even better than I thought it would be. I love all the girls, it was really good competition, and just fun all around.”

Claire Hutton (World Class FC) was making her second appearance in a National Selection Game but was just as excited to get an opportunity to have the experience again.

“It was really exciting to get the email to play,” Hutton said. “I played in Florida last year, so I knew what the experience was, and I was just stoked to get the opportunity again. The atmosphere is just amazing.”

In an event like this where players do not have the same amount of time played together that they would on their regular teams, Hutton believes that ability to adapt to each other’s playing styles is extremely important and attributed that to the East’s success on the night.

“Everyone here is talented enough to adapt to each other and that’s what we did,” Hutton said.

Having already played in a National Selection Game in the past, any nerves that such a big atmosphere sometimes create seemed to have no effect on Hutton. She was only excited to get back out on the big stage.

“I was just super excited. I’m always excited before I play. I don’t really get nervous. It’s more that I’m out here to have fun, work hard, meet new people, and that’s what I did.”