Wednesday, January 4, 2012
ECNL action heats up at Sanford event
By Chris Ackels
Dallas Sting midfielder Candace Johnson (left) tees up a cross against FC Stars of Massachusetts during their ECNL meeting in Sanford, Fla.
The time between Christmas and New Year’s, for many, includes video games, holiday parties and a week-long overload on calories that serve to motivate many an unfulfilled New Year’s resolution. And with the weather turning colder, high school athletes across the country search for ways to stay active and fight the couch-potato temptation.
For Elite Clubs National League coaches, players, and parents, a trip to balmy Sanford, Fla., was likely a welcome break from the holiday norms. Last week’s three-day event included more than 150 teams from across the country, and organizers said that more than 300 college coaches attended the event for scouting and recruiting.
ESPNHS breaks down the Top Performers at last week’s ECNL National Event in Sanford, Fla.
Having just one ECNL match under their belt coming into Sanford, last week’s games provided a true test of what the season might hold for Albertson Fury. They opened the week with a 1-0 win over a strong CASL Chelsea squad that had just one prior loss on the season. Albertson then handled two other Southeast Conference opponents, beating Carolina Elite 4-1 on Thursday and Charlotte 2-1 on Friday.
It was an equally big weekend for Michigan Hawks, who moved up to third in the national Flight A standings after three victories. Forward Allyson Krause scored five goals in three matches, including the only tallies in a 2-0 victory over Dallas Sting. Defender Eliza Van de Kerkhove notched a hat trick in the Hawks 6-2 win over FC Virginia.
It was just the ending Concorde Fire needed. Moving from middle-of-the-pack to national top 10, this squad’s undefeated weekend may have catapulted them into a playoff position. Concorde Fire closed out their ECNL regular season with three convincing victories in Florida: 4-1 over FC Delco, 5-1 over TSC Hurricane and 3-1 over Carmel United. Allison Wetherington had a solid week, scoring two goals in the opener and another goal with two assists in Thursday’s match. Florida commit Savannah Jordan also had a strong weekend, tallying four goals and an assist.
Unlike Concorde Fire who is ending their regular season, Scorpions are just getting started. Coming in with a 1-0 record, the Massachusetts squad gave up just one goal en route to an undefeated Sanford event. McKenzie Meehan and her twin sister Madison, both Boston College commits, once again proved problematic for defenses. McKenzie logged two goals and an assist, while Madison had one of each. Scorpions beat Challenge 2-0, Lonestar 2-0 and Ohio Premier 2-1.
No game was easy, but Ohio Premier Eagles took down three strong teams last week to put themselves in second place in the national Flight B standings. Wednesday’s 3-2 win over CESA showed the Eagles’ offensive prowess, taking down one of Flight B’s highest-scoring teams. Thursday’s 2-1 win over TSC Hurricane slowed down a hot Hurricane team that had not been beaten since Oct. 29. Friday’s 2-0 victory over Solar-Chelsea was a defensive win, blanking a squad that averaged nearly three goals per game in national event play.
In college sports, we often hear about "strength of schedule." No schedule was stronger this weekend than the slate Lonestar took on, earning them a Top Performer spot after securing two wins and a tie. Lonestar tied a talent-packed FC Stars of Mass team 2-2 on Wednesday, then turned in two exciting 1-0 victories on Thursday and Friday. They beat KCFC, who came into the weekend at 19-1, and then handled Carmel United in a defensive game that put Lonestar in the national Flight A top 10.
With Illinois high school play right around the corner, it was important for Eclipse Select to perform well in Florida before taking a five-month hiatus from ECNL training. No better way to head into that break than a perfect weekend, going 3-0 in Sanford with wins over FC Virginia, Charlotte, and CASL Chelsea. Eclipse now sits in third place in national Flight A standings, and will watch other teams compete before returning to ECNL play in June.
Like their older sisters (in some cases, actual older sisters) on the U17 squad, Concorde Fire needed a strong finish to their regular season if they wanted any hope at ECNL playoffs in July. Cecily Hartman (whose older sister Hannah plays on the U17 squad) scored two goals in the opener against Richmond en route to a 3-0 victory. Four different goal-scorers found the net in a 4-0 win over Solar-Chelsea on Thursday. And the defense completed an event-long shutout by tying Vardar 0-0 on Friday.