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.
The U15 age group only includes about half as many teams as the older groups, but ESPNHS breaks down the teams to watch, the players to watch, and the matches to watch at U15 this weekend in New Jersey.
Two Teams to Watch
Bethesda: Bethesda needs a strong weekend to get into playoff contention and the team has a chance to really make some waves at the young age group. Bethesda takes on undefeated Gwinnett Soccer Association on Sunday after facing a tough Dallas Texans squad Saturday. The team relies on the footwork of forward Rachel Alexander, who has 10 goals and eight assists in 16 matches this season. A strong weekend could put Bethesda into June’s playoffs.
Carmel United: It’s a similar situation for Carmel United, who needs a solid weekend against tough opponents to keep their playoff hopes alive. Carmel, sitting in 15th place, takes on PDA, FC Virginia and Gwinnett this weekend. That Saturday match with host PDA will likely set the tone, especially considering PDA is also fighting for one of the last playoff spots.
Two Players to Watch
Jennifer Westendorf (GSA): Westendorf has notched 26 goals in 17 matches this season in helping the high-powered Gwinnett offense to an undefeated season so far.
Ella Stevens (GSA): This midfielder can pass and score. She has 19 goals and 19 assists in her 21 games this season, and she is the sparkplug of this offense.
Two Matches to Watch
Ohio Elite vs. PDA (Monday at 2:20 p.m.): Six points separate these two squads, both in the middle of the pack for playoff spots. PDA also occupies the No. 5 spot in the ESPNHS ECNL Under-15 Power Rankings, while Ohio Elite will do their best to earn a ranking next week. This match will be one of the last of the weekend and will likely shake things up in the U15 standings.
Dallas Texans vs. Bethesda (Saturday at 2:40 p.m.): Again playoff spots will be on the line when these two teams meet on Saturday. Texans currently holds the No. 8 playoff spot and is ranking No. 8 in the power rankings. Their offense is driven by forward Emily Bates, who has 16 goals in 16 games this season.