It might be the third weekend of the complete ECNL slate, but for many clubs across the country, this is the first time heading back into action.
Among those teams jumping into action for the first time this season are the Michigan Hawks, who won the ECNL national title at the U18 level last fall and came in as runners up with the U17 age group.
While most – if not all – of the U18 team graduated and moved on to college, the U17 team from a year ago is now looking to compete nationally at the oldest age group.
The team begins its ECNL campaign hosting a pair of St. Louis Scott Gallagher teams at home, as the St. Louis powerhouse sends both of its ECNL clubs to Michigan.
Michigan’s holdovers from last year are very strong. While Summer Green – the U.S. U17 WNT forward – enrolled in college and is already excelling at the college level with North Carolina, returning players include Madisson Lewis and Caitlyn Clem, to name just a few.
And the Hawks won’t have just the U18s looking dangerous, as this year’s registered U17 team includes talented players like Megan Buckingham, Rilka Noel and Ashton Miller. That group also starts this weekend against St. Louis Scott Gallagher’s clubs.
The early days of the season have been kind to the Concorde Fire’s youngest ECNL team, winning its first three games of the season. A pair of North Carolina teams pay a visit this coming weekend, as Charlotte Soccer Academy and CASL Chelsea Ladies take the trip to Georgia.
Another Georgia club is at home this weekend, as Gwinnett Soccer Association hosts VSI West FL Flames and Orlando City Youth Soccer. Brittany Colangelo has a goal and two assists in two games so far this season for GSA.
It’s been a strong start for Real Colorado, and the club will look to make it five wins in a row when they welcome Sereno SC and SC Del Sol. Haley Schueppert, Teaggan Ilela, Cameron Bell and Sarah Bevington have all been dangerous so far for Real, who have scored 15 goals in the first three games of the season so far.
After opening the ECNL schedule with a pair of impressive wins (2-0 and 3-0 over TSC Hurricane and Albion Hurricanes FC respectively), the Dallas Texans head back out against a pair of Texas teams, facing Texas Rush and Lonestar SC. Madison Haley and Haley Berg were both instrumental last week and their importance to the team is likely to be just as profound.
Real So Cal gets its first taste of the 2012-13 season with a pair of games out west against West Coast FC and San Diego Surf.
Expansion isn’t uncommon in the ECNL, and this weekend another new member officially begins competing as Northern California club Mountain View Los Altos SC jumps into action with a game against San Juan SC.
Eclipse Select SC, led by attacker extraordinaire Kayla McCoy, heads back into action after winning in its opening weekend, hosting Sockers FC and Sporting Blue Valley in a pair of games. It marks the opening weekend for both of those teams, far from the easiest opening opponent. Sporting will also visit FC Wisconsin Eclipse.
A new club to ECNL – albeit in name only – is Orlando City Youth Soccer. They face a tricky trip to Georgia, taking on Gwinnett Soccer Association and Atlanta Fire. Orlando has already faced the former, losing 6-0 at home and will look for a better result this time around. Ruvimbo Mucherera and Evelyn Neidert have enjoyed strong starts to the season so far.
One of the most prolific scorers of her age group is Richmond Strikers forward Elizabeth Ball. The forward found the back of the net twice last weekend as the season began, and she’ll look to punish McLean Youth Soccer on Saturday as the Strikers head on the road to Northern Virginia for its second game of the year.
Hugh Bradford saw his D’Feeters U17s get off to a good start in their first weekend of action, winning a pair of games and outscoring the opposition 8-0. Another Texas clash awaits this weekend against Solar Chelsea. Madison Hall and Hanna Barker both started off well, accounting for seven of the team’s eight goals last week.
With the U.S. U17 WNT traveling this week to Cyprus ahead of the 2012 U17 World Cup, the ECNL feels the brunt of the talent drain at this age group (and a couple at the U17 level) as talented players like Brittany Basinger, Morgan Andrews, Toni Payne, Lauren Kaskie and Gabrielle Miranda prepare for the World Cup.
The Colorado Rush will feel the absence of national team players the most this weekend, as Miranda and Darian Jenkins represent the Colorado team. However, the ECNL schedule makers have been kind, as the team doesn’t play again after this weekend’s matchups against Sereno SC and SC Del Sol until October 20, cushioning their loss.