ECNL Preview: Diminished Slate
The battle of Michigan is on.
This coming weekend, Vardar and Michigan Hawks face off against each other in the ECNL, with not just bragging rights at stake at the U18 through U15 age levels.
Of course, different age groups will offer different challenges for both teams. For example, the U18 Hawks currently sit in second place in the Midwest Conference standings, while Vardar has yet to win a single game in the conference – so it could be a rather one-sided affair.
In fact, at every age group, the Hawks currently sit ahead of Vardar in the standings, given much more weight to these games for the latter – although it’s not like the former will want to lose to an in-state rival.
The matchup between the two U17 teams is intriguing, as the Hawks have players on that team like Megan Buckingham and Rilka Noel, both destined for big colleges. But it’s not as though Vardar lacks talent with a team that includes Taylor Timko to name just a single player.
This weekend, most, if not all of the action in this age group takes place at the U14 Interregional Showcase in Richmond, Va.
Of course, most teams descending on Virginia are from the East Coast, with some of the clubs there like Internationals SC, SoccerPlus Connecticut, Virginia Rush, Orlando City Youth Soccer, Ohio Elite Soccer Academy, San Juan SC, MVLA, De Anza Force, Bethesda SC, FC Stars of Massachusetts, Scorpions SC to name a handful of clubs that will be there.
The Colorado Storm face the daunting challenge of trying to become the first Mountain West conference team to beat Real Colorado this season when they meet this weekend. Real has lots of offensive weapons they can throw at you, in Jayne Lydlatt, Mallory Pugh, Cydney Billups and Tatum Barton.
Morgan Hensley has been a goal-scoring dynamo for Sporting Blue Valley thus far in the season, scoring 10 goals from the first 8 games. She’ll be out to punish St. Louis Scott Gallagher’s Metro club this coming Saturday in Sporting’s only match of the month.
First place in the Texas Conference Standings, the Dallas Texans hit the road this weekend with games against Challenge SC and Albion Hurricanes in an effort to pad their lead at the top. Midfielder Emily Bates (12 goals, 5 assists) continues to pace the Texans attack with help from Brooke Hartsock and Ashley Smith.
It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine the Midatlantic Conference race to be a tight one this season, and McLean Youth Soccer will look to consolidate a lead at the top of the standings when they host the Virginia Rush on Saturday. It’s still early in the season for McLean, but Mia Hhoen-Beck and Kaitlyn Forsht have been among the players who have started well.
A pair of Southeast clubs are hitting the road to Florida this weekend, as Atlanta Fire and Carolina Elite Soccer Academy will be in the Sunshine state for a pair of games against VSI West Flames and Orlando City YS. The latter two in this age group sit third and fourth respectively in the standings, and won’t want to let CASL or Charlotte get too far out of reach.
Eclipse SC faces a pair of tough games this weekend, with a game against St. Louis Scott Gallagher on Saturday, before making up a rescheduled match against FC Wisconsin Eclipse on Sunday.
The start to the season has been quite good for FC Virginia, and they’ll look to continue that with Richmond Strikers making the trip north to try and end Virginia’s winning streak.
Another in state battle in the middle of the country is on the slate, as Colorado Storm takes on Real Colorado. Both clubs are behind the Utah Avalanche and the Rush in the conference standings, and will look to close the gap. Shelby Raper and Maddie Smith are two players likely to give Real Colorado problem.
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