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ECNL action heats up in San Antonio

Today’s high in San Antonio is 87 degrees.

It won’t be quite that warm this weekend when 36 Elite Clubs National League programs head to the Lone Star State for the league’s third national event for the 2011-12 season. But forecasts call for 60s and 70s this weekend, a welcome break for most soccer players nationwide.

This weekend’s ECNL National Event has too many good games to count. Clubs from all eight conferences will participate in 189 matches, and ESPNHS has done its best to highlight five from each age group to keep an eye on.

Under-18

Carmel United vs. Crossfire Premier (Friday): Carmel United has recorded five shutouts and has given up more than one goal only once all year. But Crossfire midfielders Isabelle Farrell and Laura Rayfield might have something to say about that offensively.

Real Colorado vs. PDA (Friday): Real Colorado comes in riding an eight-game win streak, and it has given up just three goals in its last nine games. For PDA (1-0), this is the first game of an extremely tough weekend, as it faces three first-place teams (Real Colorado, Dallas Texans, Michigan Hawks).

Michigan Hawks vs. SC del Sol (Saturday): Both of these teams average better than three goals per game offensively. The greatest contributor for Michigan Hawks (14-1-3) is Ally Krause, a Michigan State signee with 16 goals. For SC del Sol (10-0-2), it’s Cali Farquharson, an Arizona State commit, with 18.

CASL Chelsea vs. Dallas Texans (Sunday): The undefeated Dallas Texans (11-0-1) look to make a move in the national Flight A standings this week, where they sit in second. The Texans will need the help of Texas-bound Kelsey Shimmick and SMU signee Mary Lonsberry on offense if they want to overcome CASL Chelsea’s stingy defense, which has recorded 12 shutouts this season.

Albertson Fury vs. Solar-Chelsea (Sunday): This match will close out a big weekend for Albertson Fury, who enters the weekend undefeated at 4-0-0. But Solar-Chelsea’s Taylor Smith, who is headed to UCLA next year, has 12 goals in 13 matches, and will be tough to handle for any defense.

Under-17

Colorado Rush vs. Dallas Sting (Friday): Both of these teams had rocky starts and have both rebounded. After starting 0-2, the Sting won nine of their next 10, including seven shutouts. After starting 0-1, Colorado Rush won the next 12 in a row, including eight shutouts. They’ve worked their way back into contention and open the weekend against each other.

PDA vs. TSC Hurricane (Friday): TSC Hurricane looks to rebound after going 2-2-1 in their last five games and dropping to third in the Texas Conference. TSC will look for the duo of Elizabeth Keester and Kristen Killion to heat back up this weekend. PDA (1-0) is just getting started, but always causes a stir at this age level.

KCFC vs. Bethesda (Saturday): Bethesda lost a heartbreaker to first place FC Virginia last weekend, and it doesn’t get any easier this weekend, with matches against KCFC, Michigan Hawks and TSC Hurricane. In KCFC they’ll have to deal with the duo of Joelle Johnson and Addison Steiner, who are together responsible for 38 goals this season.

Dallas Texans vs. FC Virginia (Saturday): After starting the season 9-0-1, Dallas Texans lost their last two games at the Sanford event in December. FC Virginia also has two losses and also sits in first in their conference, but will have to try to find a way to stop Texans forward Jasmine Heart, who has 13 goals in 11 games.

East Meadow vs. St. Louis Scott Gallagher (Sunday): This should be a fun one to watch between two middle-of-the-pack clubs. For East Meadow, watch forward Amanda Barroca, and for Scott Gallagher, keep an eye on Memphis-bound midfielder Danielle Tolmais.

Under-16

Atlanta Fire vs. Colorado Rush (Friday): This battle of first place teams could have major playoff implications. Atlanta Fire is 1-2-1 in their last four matches and their lead is slipping in the Southeastern Conference. Watch for forward Grace Damaska to pick up Atlanta Fire’s offense. Her counterpart Brittney Stark (12 goals in 10 games) could make noise for Colorado Rush.

Vardar vs. Washington Premier (Friday): Vardar has shown to be a streaky team this year, and hit a hot streak in Sanford by scoring 10 goals in three games. It faces a 2-2-0 Washington Premier squad that just suffered a loss to rival Crossfire Premier. Led by forward Mariah Lee, don’t count out Washington Premier.

Carolina Elite vs. Eagles (Friday): Carolina Elite has had strong showings at national events so far, especially from forward Chandler Arrowood, who recorded two goals and an assist in Sanford. It opens this event with an Eagles squad that has proven it can run with the big guns. Eagles have scored nine goals so far this season, coming from eight different players.

Charlotte vs. Lonestar (Saturday): The defending national champs take on a hot Charlotte team in a game that is as unpredictable as any. Both teams have at least six different players who have scored in multiple games, led by Lonestar’s Mikaela Harvey and Charlotte’s Anna Estep.

Richmond Strikers vs. San Juan (Saturday): Elizabeth Ball is a fun one to watch. The Richmond forward scored three goals at the Sanford event and has accounted for 18 goals in 18 games this year. She faces a San Juan team that has won just one of its last six games, yet still has a winning record and sits in third place in the Northwest Conference.