There are only six weeks left in the regular season in the ECNL, which means the games remaining on each team’s schedule are starting to shrink to a handful.
Given the promotion (and relegation) system in the ECNL, there is some complication to what it really takes to move up or down. Here is how it works for the U15-U17 age groups:
All teams are placed (based on previous results) into either the A-Flight or B-Flight bracket. The games between similar flight teams only matter for the National Standings, which determines the teams that will make the championship event.
The top 16 teams in the A-Flight compete for the title at the National Championship in June.
The top four teams in B-Flight standings at the end of the regular season are guaranteed promotion. The fifth and sixth place teams play the 25th and 26th place teams from the A-Flight in a playoff for one spot in A-Flight for the following season.
Probably not, but lets just say that there are a lot of teams on the bubble for one reason on another with only a few games left.
In the U14 age, the structure of the postseason is slightly different.
The national champion is crowned from amongst the top two teams in each conference at the end of the regular season. Those 16 teams are seeded for a single elimination tournament at the 2012 ECNL National Championship in June.
In the SoCal Conference, both San Diego Surf U14 and Arsenal FC U14 can clinch spots in the National Championship with wins over the weekend.
Surf, the conference leaders, plays Eagles Soccer Club on Sunday. A victory for the San Diego club would guarantee a final points-per-game average superior to any other team in the conference besides Arsenal.
Forward Camille Bassett leads the Surf in goals with 10 on the season. Midfielder Olivia Erlbeck has been the main contributor for assists with eight helpers on the year.
Arsenal is also looking to book its trip to the National Championship on Sunday with a win against Real So Cal. Marissa Everett, Jonnae Joseph, and Nicole Leggio have been the catalysts of the attack with 23 goals combined between the three.
With eyes on promotion, Washington Premier U15 takes on Pleasanton Rage U15 on Sunday. In the fixture between two Flight B teams, a win for Premier could push the Washington club into a spot among the six in the B-Flight.
Across town on Sunday, Crossfire Premier U15 plays Mustang SC U15 in a contest between A-Flight teams fighting for a spot in the playoffs. Currently, Mustang holds the 13th place, and Crossfire is one spot behind in the 14th spot.
On the other coast, East Meadow U15 hosts World Class FC U15 in another important Flight B fixture. World Class is currently holding onto the third spot in the national standings. The combination play of Kelsey Davis and Julianna Cabrera has helped keep World Class in a promotion spot.
Penn Fusion SA U15, the Midatlantic Conference leader, is hoping that World Class slip up over the weekend. Fusion barely trails the New York club in the Flight B standings. Bryce Watts, Marissa Sheva, and Deirdre Bradley will be leading the Pennsylvania club’s attack this weekend against FC Bucks U15.
In Southern California, West Coast FC meets up with So Cal Blues for the second time this season. Blues won the first meeting in October 1-0 behind a goal from Nicole Faris, who is up to 10 goals in 19 games now.
The second meeting is even more significant for West Coast FC, as it only has five games remaining against the top flight teams and currently sits near the bubble for a playoff spot.
In B-Flight action, Scorpions SC U16 faces a formidable challenge in Connecticut FC U16 on Saturday. Connecticut is currently fifth in the national standings – just outside an automatic promotion spot. Scorpions are in 21st, which means wins are the only results that will help the Massachusetts club get back into the mix.
It has been over a month since the last time Mustang SC U17 took the field in ECNL play. That lengthy break has left plenty of time for Kai Edwards’ team to stew on its second loss of the season, which it suffered in its final game before the break against Bethesda SC U17.
Now, the Northern California club is traveling up to Washington for a pair of games against conference rivals over the weekend. Despite the earlier setback, Mustang still claims the second spot in Flight A standings, and is firmly entrenched in a playoff spot.
In Flight B, Solar-Chelsea Soccer Club U17 is poised to lock up one of the four spots for guaranteed promotion. The Texas club is done with Flight B games, except for the three at the showcase event in New Jersey at the end of the month.
In the meantime, Solar is taking on the top teams in the Texas Conference, Dallas Texans U17 and TSC Hurricane U17, over the weekend. Solar and Hurricane fought to a 2-2 draw in the first meeting this season. Casie Ramsler and Madison Ledet found the back of the net for Solar in the draw.
Since U18 is the last age group for the ECNL, there is no promotion. The playoffs for Flight A work the same way as the U15-U17 age groups.
Dallas Texans U18 currently holds the top spot in Flight A. Sean Bubb’s team is undefeated on the season with only three games remaining. This weekend the Texans face Solar-Chelsea Soccer Club U18 for the first time this season. Solar is third in the conference and 11th in the Flight A standings.
The high-powered attack of Kelsey Shimmick, Mary Lonsberry, and Lindsey Meyer will be looking to lead the Texans past Solar on Saturday, and keep the undefeated season alive.