ECNL San Diego Rocks On Day Two
With the second day of tough competition completed in the 2014 ECNL San Diego, it is clear this is another major success for girls’ soccer and America’s Finest City. What do the coaches think of this event? Check out what the college and club coaches – Phil Pincince, Chris Lemay, Colin Chesters, Jason Goodman, Scott Kelsey, Mark Heimenz, Lorne Donaldson, Ryan Carruth, Gus Castaneda, and Randy Dodge – say about ECNL.
ECNL San Diego Day Two Report: The youth soccer games have been exciting, ranging from nail-biting last-minute victories to high-scoring blowouts for dominant teams. And all these games have been watched by an estimated 500+ college coaches who have sat along the sidelines carefully watching prospective recruits and comparing impressions of the event with colleagues. Unlike many other youth soccer showcases, it is impossible to walk between the fields without passing many coaches scouting and taking notes, many of whom are the top D1 college coaches.
Brown’s women’s head soccer coach Phil Pincince, the 13th-winningest coach in NCAA Division I history, agreed that the ECNL San Diego event was a success and a great place to evaluate players. After 38 years at Brown, Pincince watches players carefully on and off the field to determine how they handle failure and success during tough competitions, and ENCL San Diego provides a great opportunity to scout. Chris Lemay, assistant women’s soccer coach at CAL echoed the sentiment and said, “ECNL’s competition has some of the best players playing against the top teams and all the games are in one location; the Polo Fields. You can’t beat it.”
ECNL is a chance for top girls’ teams around the country to compete against each other. It is also an opportunity to showcase their skills in front of college coaches and recruiters from every level.
“It’s the best level of competition by far throughout the country,” said Colin Chesters, Girls Director of Coaching for host club San Diego Surf SC. It’s important to be a part of it as a youth club.”
Day Two was highly successful for Surf SC; their U14s won 2-0 vs Mustang SC, the U15s won 6-2 vs defending National Champs De Anza Force, the U16s won 2-0 vs 1st place Real Colorado, the U17s won 2-0 vs Utah Avalanche and the U18s lost a close one to De Anza Force 2-1.
How many college coaches watch these game? At the Surf SC U16’s game, over 45 college coaches checked in along with several U.S. National Team scouts to see the action and scout players.
“It’s a fantastic event,” said Ohio State University Women’s Soccer Recruiting Coordinator Jason Goodman. “You’ve got some of the best programs not only here on the West Coast, but also some of the best teams across the country come in for this event. It’s always been a staple for a lot of programs, as you can tell from the number of Division I programs that are represented here this weekend. It’s one of the last opportunities outside of PDA for us to get a look at some of the kids in these programs.
For America’s elite girls team ranging in age from U14 to U18, ECNL San Diego is an opportunity to build dreams. For some teams, Day Two was an opportunity to build on the success of Day One while other teams had to try to rise from the ashes of defeat to bask in the sunshine of victory.
SoCal teams continue to dominate in ECNL San Diego as Cal South teams traditional face the toughest competition within their own state – click here to view all ECNL Results Day Two
U15 Match Results Highlight: Slammers beat Santa Rosa United 4-1 and Las Vegas Premier SA shut out Richmond Strikers 3-0
U16 Match Results Highlight: Eclipse Select SC beat FC Stars of Massachusetts 2-1 and Sereno SoC shut out Bethesda SC 1-0
U17 Match Results Highlight: Scorpions SC shut out Arsenal FC 4-0 and Ohio Elite Soccer Academy shut out PDA 1-0.
U18 Match Results Highlight: Dallas Sting shut out Challenge SC 1-0 and Mustang SC shut out So Cal Blues SC 1-0.
“It’s a good opportunity to see some of the top talent in the country,” agreed Mark Hiemenz from the University of Wyoming. “Obviously the weather has been fantastic, so you can’t complain there. It’s a good setting that centralizes everything so you can get a lot of viewing time for a lot of talent, not just from California but across the nation.”
Club coaches and directors were also overwhelmingly supportive of the event. Lorne Donaldson, Director of Coaching for visiting Real Colorado, gave ECNL overall high marks for what it does.
“ECNL is very important to our club,” Donaldson said. “It’s the highest level for the youth game. It’s important that all the best clubs all over the country get together and play in tournaments like this. It brings the best out of the players.”
Since ECNL began in 2009, thousands of girls have had participated in the various showcase events, designed to both test and display their skills. As Hiemenz explained, the competition becomes a litmus test for teams and girls alike to measure their current level and plan and prepare to improve. By taking what they learn from ECNL events and applying that to their training, players can take their game to the next level.
“ECNL is very important,” said Slammers SC’s Scott Kelsey. “It exposes the girls to a higher level of play against the best talent in the United States. It’s great exposure.”
That exposure is essential for girls hoping to continue their soccer careers into the college level. With thousands of players and a limited number of openings, the competition is fierce. An event like ECNL San Diego not only showcases the girls, it provides the girls with that higher level of play they need to be prepared for the college game.
“ECNL is the elite level of girls’ soccer in our country,” said Surf SC College Office Director Ryan Carruth. It provides an opportunity for clubs to be playing matches of consequence across the entire calendar year, whereas before ECNL top clubs in the country were forced to play matches that didn’t really matter – matches against opponents who were not the same caliber. It’s helped to raise the level overall.”
“For our girls’ program, ECNL is essential because the direction of the girls’ game for colleges is centered around showcasing the players,” said West Coast FC Director of Girls Program Gus Castaneda.
“I think ECNL has made it very easy for the elite player to play in a circuit with the top colleges watching,” Castaneda continued, “and to be honest the full range of colleges are out here. There’s a place for everybody and it helps our girls’ program stay strong. It’s a great league.”
“It’s great to be able to watch so many great players from across the country compete,” said Randy Dodge of Vanguard University. “The majority of the top players are playing in ECNL for these clubs that are involved. To be able to put them all in one venue and have so many games – it’s a little overwhelming at times, but it’s a good chance to evaluate them because they’re playing the best.”
ECNL’s events are not all about competition; there is a sense of belonging to something important and there is also a break in the focus to win. In between matches, the girls have had the chance to have fun and test their skills at the Army National Guard (ARNG) booth, a national sponsor of ECNL. Players come into the National Guard corral and see how many times they can juggle the soccer ball. Often packed with players testing their abilities, the top performer lost the ball after nearly 6000 consecutive juggles.
“This has been an exciting weekend for us in the National Guard,” said ARNG Coordinator Earl Richburg, during a break in the activities. “The partnership we have with the ECNL is second to none. The ECNL is a great organization, and it’s a good branding opportunity for the National Guard. The ECNL gives us access to their players – we want these talented girls to know how we can help them reach their goals with college scholarships from the National Guard.”
ECNL San Diego concludes on Monday, April 14, with a full slate of games. The season will continue with ECNL New Jersey in Zarephath, NJ, in late may, followed by the ECNL National Playoffs for U15-U17 and ECNL National Finals for U14 and U18 in Seattle, WA, in June and the ECNL National Finals for U15-U17 in Richmond, VA, in July.