ECNL Preview: All wheels up for Florida
The second ECNL National Event of the season kicks off on Saturday from Sanford, Fla. The three-day event will showcase some of the best teams in the country in front of a bevy of scouts.
Below is a breakdown of a handful of the games to watch at the event. TopDrawerSoccer.com will have exclusive coverage from the games so check back throughout the weekend.
One of the marquee matchups in the youngest age group in Sanford will be on Sunday afternoon when FC Virginia takes on Michigan Hawks. FC Virginia is 8-0-1 on the season, and has enjoyed a balanced scoring attack along with a dominant defense. Michigan Hawks are 10-2-1 on the season thanks to the offensive explosion from Madeleine Lucas who has 14 goals and five assists this season. Isabel Rodriguez is second on the team in scoring with eight goals to her name.
Another highly anticipated fixture from Sanford is NC Fusion against Concorde Fire on Saturday. Both teams are jockeying for playoff position heading into 2014 with Fire holding the 12th spot in the Champions League standings. The Georgia club is 11-2-1 on the season and has been counting on forward Mollie Belisle who has nine goals and seven assists in 12 games this season. Mollie Williams is second on the team in terms of points with five goals and five assists in 10 games. Brooke Bingham leads Fusion’s attack. The Ashe County High School freshman has seven goals in 13 ECNL games.
FC Stars of Massachusetts is another squad to keep an eye on the event. The team just began its season, but it kicked off with a bang - 13 goals scored and only one conceded in two games. Stars face Dallas Texans, CASL, and FC Virginia in Sanford; a tricky trio of games to navigate over three days.
FC Dallas drew a tough slate of games in Sanford. The top team in the Texas Conference standings opens Saturday against FC Stars of Massachusetts, faces Santa Rosa United on Saturday, and then ends with Maryland United on Sunday. All three of those teams are undefeated on the season. Granted, those three teams have combined to only play six games this season, but still a thorny set of games. Natalie Heiser has been the main weapon in the attack for FC Dallas. She has nine goals in 14 games. Addison McCain paces the midfield with 13 assists.
Carolina Elite Soccer Academy is trying to make up some ground on the field this weekend with games against Challenge SC, D’Feeters Soccer Club, and Internationals SC. CESA is 7-2-5 on the campaign and sits in 22nd in the Champions League standings. Elizabeth Stahlman, Sarah Duckworth, and Meredith Bailey lead the attack with 14 goals between the three of them.
Atlanta Fire is also hoping for some positive results over the weekend after a 7-4-6 start to the season. Fire faces McLean Youth Soccer, Match Fit Academy, and NC Fusion in Sanford. Alyssa Beck and Ambria Shutts lead the Fire attack with seven goals and six assists between the two of them.
McLean Youth Soccer is hoping to keep its perfect season alive in Sanford. The Virginia club is 9-0-0 on the year with 26 goals scored and only three conceded. U.S. U17 Women’s National Team pool member Mia Hoen-Beck leads the McLean attack with six goals and four assists in eight games. McLean faces Dallas Texans, Concorde Fire, and Charlotte Soccer Academy this weekend. Texans have one of the best forwards in ECNL in Brittany Crabtree who has 10 goals in 12 games this season, which should set up for a exciting tilt on Saturday.
GSA (16-1) is praying for a slip up from McLean while also taking care of work in Florida. GSA takes on Dallas Sting, Washington Premier, and FC Stars of Massachusetts over the weekend. Sting will be a big challenge, as the Texas club is a perennial force in the elite girl’s club soccer league. This season, Sting leads the Texas Conference and has only conceded five goals in ten games. Goalkeepers Alyssa Palacios and Katherine Lund have been the main force for the defense.
CASL is entering the twilight of the season with only five games left on the docket before playoffs. Following this weekend, CASL will have two games in March before the chase for the title begins. That is a rather lengthy layoff for the North Carolina squad, and it would be splendid to go into that absence with some wins. CASL takes on Continental FC Delco, Carolina Elite Soccer Academy, and Connecticut FC at the Sylvan Lake complex. Mary Gracin Palmer has been the main threat for CASL with 10 goals and four assists this season. Bayley Rigsbee has been the provider in the midfielder with nine assists in 12 games.
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