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Season recap from ECNL’s Mountain West U16/U17

Published: January 25, 2012

Colorado Rush and Real Colorado are close neighbors . . . and fiercely competitive rivals. This is especially true for the U17 ECNL teams, where the two clubs are first and second in the Mountain West standings, respectively.

“They have a very good team and a really good coach,” said Real Colorado head coach Jared Spires about Rush. “Both teams are nationally competitive and really compete against each other hard – probably hate each other at times, but probably will make good teammates down the road.”

Spires’ Real Colorado U17 ECNL team is in second in the standings with an 11-0-3 record, but he says it should definitely be better.

“I wouldn’t say we are off to a good start,” said Spires. “In our conference we have done okay, but the team has had a rash of injuries.”

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The coach said that five of his starters have been hit with long-term injuries and he attributes the copious amount of bodies in the training room to the amount of games the young ladies played last year.

“This team played so much soccer last year – ECNL national championship, Far West Regionals, etc. - it was non-stop highly competitive soccer. And their bodies needed a break, and unfortunately, not having a break and playing all those games contributed to it. As a club, it is something we are looking to eliminate in the future.”

Even though the highly talented Real Colorado side has been hit by the injury-bug, they have fought through and remain in contention for bragging rights in the state of Colorado.

“As a collective group, the players were able to rise up and give us a fighting chance,” said Spires. The coach went on to highlight Candace Cephers, who is the only healthy defender on the roster from last year’s championship team.

“She is the type of kid that sees a void of leadership and plays like one of the best players,” said Spires about Cephers. He also described her as “outstanding in the air” and very strong.

Real Colorado’s top scorer from last year, Alex Anthony, has yet to make much of an impact due to injury, but Spires is hopeful in the return of Anthony and others in the coming month.

Spires’ team has a trio of games in February before the club goes on break for high school soccer. The coach said that he anticipates a few of his stars will return for those games, but worries about what condition they will return in after the scholastic season.

While Real Colorado only trails Rush by a point in the conference standings, its rivals have done much better on the national stage in limited games. Rush is currently holding onto a spot in the top 11 in the National Flight A standings. Real Colorado is toward the bottom of the table with only one win in five games.

Rush’s good national standing is thanks to the play of U17 national team members Elizabeth Raben, Gabrielle Miranda, and Morgan Stanton. Also, last year’s leading scorer, Danica Evans, is back for another turn at tormenting defenses in the Mountain West.

GSA and Dallas Sting meet again | Concorde Fire, Scorpions perfect

Mountain West ECNL U16

For the U16 age group, the story is much the same with Colorado Rush leading the conference standings behind the stellar play of Brittney Stark, Taylor Terrell, and Lauren Conley.
Chasing the Rush is Arizona’s Sereno Soccer Club U16. Jorian Baucom, who has eight goals in seven games this season, leads head coach Paul Taylor’s squad.

Taylor’s team started the season well with a win over Real Colorado and a draw against Colorado Rush.

{mosimage:300}“I think we had a good training camp, and the girls set some realistic goals for themselves,” said Taylor. “We came in quite fit and sharp, which was very helpful to get us off to a great start against some very good competition. We played a couple of friendlies against some boys’ teams to prepare us for the competition.”

Unsurprisingly, Taylor also pointed to the Rush as his team’s main opposition inside the region.

“I would say the Colorado Rush is a very good team. We’ve tied and lost to them in two very good soccer games. It could have gone either way on both games. They are our main competitors in our conference.”

The coach is dealing with a bigger difficulty besides Rush, high school soccer. His team’s last ECNL game was in October, and they will not return to the field until March.

“Fingers crossed they come back somewhat healthy,” said Taylor. “We start gearing up for a very hectic March period, which could make or break this season.”

Sereno is comfortably sitting near the top of the table in the conference, but Taylor’s side is lacking in the national standings.

"San Diego is a big deal for us,” said Taylor referring to the ECNL National Showcase event. “The long-term goal is to get into the top 16 and get into the National Championship in Chicago at the end of the season.”

Elsewhere in the U16 Mountain West, Real Colorado is making a push up the standings. Spires, who is also the assistant coach with the Real Colorado U16 team, said that head coach Lorne Donaldson has done a great job with that team.

“Lorne just took them over a year ago and when you go from one coach to another, it changes personalities,” said Spires.  “I really like the changes they’ve made. They are working hard and playing hard. I think they are a team that will really peak at the U17 age.”

Real Colorado U16 is looking to make the promotion to Flight A this season, as the club is currently in the top 16 in the standings for Flight B. Joining Donaldson’s side in the lower flight is the Nevada club Heat FC, which sits four spots above Real Colorado in the national table.

Heat FC is third in both the U16 and U17 ECNL age groups for the region, and also firmly in the conversation for promotion in the older bracket.

 GSA and Dallas Sting meet again | Concorde Fire, Scorpions perfect

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