With so many clubs descending on Sanford Florida over the weekend for the ECNL Event, it is no surprise that some of the best girls club soccer players in the country was in attendance. TopDrawerSoccer.com was on hand and tried to catch as many games as possible over the three-day showcase.
Below is a rundown of the best eleven (plus a special mention to others) from the games that TopDrawerSoccer.com was able to watch at the event.
GK: Scout Watson (Sporting Blue Valley U17)
Watson was there when she needed to be and provided a steady performance against a talented Freestate Soccer Alliance squad on Saturday. She also benefits from a strong defense and midfield ahead of her, which should split this honor between the ranks. Sporting Blue Valley finished the competition with only one goal conceded from the three games.
D: Courtney Petersen (Michigan Hawks U16)
The Hawks did not earn a single point from Florida, but one would be hard pressed to find a left back who did more for her team than Peterson. She had a highlight-reel worthy performance against Gwinnett Soccer Association on the opening day with a goal and a pseudo-assist (her shot led to a goal).
D: Arianna Spelios Hudson (Crossfire U17/Florida State)
Hudson’s best contribution came when she moved to midfield where she provided two assists in a matter of minutes, but she did lineup at outside back too. Hudson’s ability to pick out her teammates in dangerous spots helped Crossfire to a 3-0-0 record at the event.
D: Anna Lee (Concorde Fire U17)
The goal against Richmond Strikers on Friday may have been the pinnacle of the weekend for the center back, but Lee and Concorde Fire U17’s defense went on to win three games with three shutouts. Her smart positioning and ability to anticipate the pass stopped a number of talented attackers in Florida.
M: Ella Stevens (Gwinnett Soccer Association U16)
The U.S. U15 Girls National Team standout is a tremendous talent who continues to improve under the teaching of Campbell Chapman. She has a knack for reading the game and breaking down defenses that collapse on her in the middle of the field. Playing alongside Jennifer Westendorf certainly helps as well.
M: Riley Sykes (Eclipse Select Soccer Club U16)
There were a number of worthy candidates from Eclipse that put in performances deserving of this spot, but Sykes steals the show with her tremendous two-goal performance against Ohio Elite Soccer Academy on Friday. The thrashing of one of the better teams in this age group set the tone of the event, where the Chicago club went 3-0-0.
M: Joanna Boyles (CASL Chelsea Ladies U18/North Carolina)
As the defending National Champions, CASL has to deal with always having a target on its back in any game and especially at the National Events. Behind the leadership of Boyles (and a couple of others), the Ladies of CASL seem to be up for anything the opposition can (and will) throw at them. Boyles’ long-range effort against FC Delco was one of the best goals of the weekend.
M: Caylon McMillian (FC Dallas U15)
It did not take long for McMillian to jump off the field for any observer of the FC Dallas U15 side. She moves into passing lanes unlike any player her age. The youngster also demands the ball so she can control the game, which is perhaps her best attribute. McMillian is surrounded by talented players on her club side, which certainly helps, but she is the one that pulls the strings to make the team churn.
M: Christyna Pitre (Lonestar SC U17/LSU)
At times, it seems like there are multiple versions of Pitre on the field for Lonestar. The Texas club’s defensive midfielder is all over the place, and always trying to win the ball back for her squad. She was, by far, the best player at anticipating when to challenge for a ball in the air. Her athleticism and soccer smarts jump off the field from the opening minute.
F: Elizabeth Kinkler (PDA U16)
Kinkler makes her mark on the wing with charging runs forward that makes life miserable for outside backs. She hit an absolute screamer in the driving rain and harsh wind on Saturday morning in a 2-0 win over D’Feeters Soccer Club, which made the short list of the top goals from the event. Her skill and pace made quite a few college coaches take notice.
F: Mimi Asom (Dallas Sting U16)
There are teams that have stopped Asom on this season, but it is hard to imagine how they did it. She is powerful, quick, and skillful. She is a hawk looking to prey on the goal, and constantly eyeing another tally to lead her squad to victory. Despite playing up an age group, Asom still showed she was one of the best strikers in the ECNL this weekend.
Honorable mention: Haley Pounds (Challenge SC U18), Emily Bates (Dallas Texans U16/ Texas A&M), Keagan Bolibol (Crossfire U16), Dorian Bailey (Sporting Blue Valley U17), Taylor Sancegraw (SLSG/Arkansas), Sarah Le Beau (Eclipse Select U17), Mary Vignola (Ohio Elite Soccer Academy U16)