More than 200 teams from across the country head to Zarephath, N.J., this weekend for the annual PDA Showcase, one of the nation’s most esteemed club soccer events. In recent years, the Showcase has taken on new meaning, serving as the final stop for many ECNL teams before June’s playoffs. Forty-four ECNL clubs will send a total of 110 teams to this year’s PDA Showcase and the results will have major implications on which teams makes the playoffs in their respective age groups.
ESPNHS breaks down the teams to watch, the players to watch, and the matches to watch at U16 this weekend in New Jersey.
Three Teams to Watch
FC Stars of Mass: This will be a fun team to watch this weekend because Stars are in the middle of a dogfight for a playoff spot, and all three teams it plays is also in the playoff running. Stars of Mass currently holds the No. 12 spot and take on Mustang (No. 11), Eclipse (No. 7) and Ohio Elite (No. 13). These teams are separated by less than 0.20 points per game and less than six points total. Keeping an eye on Stars of Mass will tell a lot about the playoff shakedown.
PDA: The host team has no cake walk this time around, as PDA takes on the San Diego Surf and So Cal Blues in a matter of 24 hours. PDA currently holds No. 4 in the standings and No. 5 in the ESPNHS ECNL Under-16 Power Rankings, but this weekend will provide a chance to prove themselves and move up, or lose it all and move way down. The most intriguing thing about this team is that it is undefeated through 19 matches and has not allowed a goal in seven straight games.
Eclipse Select: Eclipse has a chance to silence the competition this week as they play a tough schedule. Two opponents, Dallas Sting and Stars of Masswill look to knock off the Illinois girls and take their spot in the top eight. Monday’s match with Colorado Rush will be no cinch either, as the Colorado club is playing for their playoff lives. Eclipse is a strong club and could solidify their chance to play for the title this weekend.
Three Players to Watch
Jorian Baucom (Sereno): She’s got 16 goals in 12 matches this year and Sereno needs to her find the net this weekend to keep its playoff hopes alive.
Mackenzie Cerda (Slammers): Cerda is a big reason why Slammers occupies the top spot in both the National Flight A standings and the SoCal Conference standings. She’s one of the most difficult strikers to contain at this age level.
Nikki Faris (So Cal Blues): The team leader in goals often plays forward, but she’s got the speed and control to play midfielder. She could see time at both spots this weekend.
Three Matches to Watch
Dallas Sting vs. Ohio Elite (Sunday at 1:40 p.m.): Both teams are strong defensively. It will likely be a question of which defense can silence the opposing team’s top strikers. For Dallas Sting, it’s Emma Heckendorn who does the scoring with help from midfielders Sidney LeRoy and Sarah Summers. For Ohio Elite, Madeline Huster leads the team in scoring and assists, and will look for help from Kelly Williams and Katherine Cheng.
Concorde Fire vs. FC DELCO (Saturday at 11:20 a.m.): In Flight B, just four teams get to play for the championship in June, and this game could decide who gets there. FC DELCO currently holds the top spot in Flight B, and Concorde Fire sits in third place. The winner of this game will likely solidify a chance to play for the Flight B National Championship next month in Waukegan. FC DELCO’s leading scorer is Kayla Smith, while Concorde Fire relies on the foot of Amanda Bartholomew. These are Flight B teams with Flight A talent, and they will make for a great matchup Saturday.
West Coast vs.Freestate (Sunday at 5:00 p.m.): Both of these teams need good weekends to remain in playoff contention, but it is probably doable for either squad. This mach will be the toughest for either team, and it will tell a lot about what these teams have to offer in terms of offensive firepower. For West Coast, their No. 10 power ranking is also at play this weekend, as they hope to stay in the top ten to finish the season.