ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The SLSG MO ECNL Girls program recently concluded “Phase 1” of their 2018-2019 season with all teams poised to qualify for the ECNL Championships as they transition to the ECNL Showcase event portion of their schedule.
The season began with a pre-season camp at Principia College in Alton, IL before all six teams in the program participated in the Eclipse Select Challenge Showcase and Gallagher Friendlies during the month of September. “Having the camp offsite at Principia and immediately going to the Eclipse Challenge Showcase was perfect for getting the girls acclimated to one another,” said SLSG MO ECNL Director Ralph Richards. “It was great experience for new and returning players to embrace our culture and settle in before the first weekend on September 8-9th.”
The first weekend of fixtures was on the road against Michigan Hawks and Vardar with each of the age groups playing two games over the weekend. The U13s & U14s went 2-0-0, the U15s went 0-1-1, the U16s and U17s went 2-0-0, and the U19s went 1-1-0. The highlight game of the weekend was the 0-0 draw for the U19s against Vardar which was played at a frenetic pace like a college game and was a good result against one of the best teams of the conference.
The second weekend saw the four-oldest age groups travel to Eclipse Select Lunar returning back to the ECNL after a year in the Girls Development Academy program which saw them return their best players to the ECNL. The U15s drew 1-1, the U16s lost 0-2 against one of the best teams in the country, and the U17s and U19s won 2-1 and 3-0, respectively. The highlight game of the weekend was the comeback 2-1 win for the U17s with goals from Ava Tankersley and Sophia Cross.
The following weekend was the ECNL Midwest Showcase Friendlies hosted at the WWT Soccer Park which marked the first occasion the event was hosted here. Only the U15-U19 teams participated and the games did not affect the standings but were played in front of 30+ college coaches and scouts which was good exposure for the girls.
The program was back on road to Nebraska with oldest groups for the next weekend as the teams faced Elite Girls Academy (EGA) which is an up-and-coming program with a lot of talent. The U15s tied 0-0, the U16s and U17s won 7-0 and 3-1 respectively, and the U19s lost 1-2 against the top team in the conference at that age group.
The final home weekend of “Phase 1” saw games played at WWT Soccer Park as the program hosted FC Wisconsin and Eclipse Select Solar. In total, the SLSG MO ECNL Girls won 11 of the 12 games they played in over the weekend with the high school-aged girls winning 7 of 8 games. The oldest four age groups are in good position to enter “Phase 2” with four ECNL conference games to play before taking a break for the girls high school season. The U19s are in the top 2 and need to finish there to qualify for ECNL Nationals, the U17s have a perfect 6-0-0 season as they sit in first place, the U16s are in third and the U15s are in fourth place. The U15-U17 teams need to finish in the top-4 of the conference to qualify for the ECNL Nationals and are poised to finish in those spots.
This past weekend, the U13 & U14 girls traveled to Eclipse Select SC Lunar to conclude the youngest age groups “Phase 1” league games. The U13s went 2-0-0 while the U14s drew both games 1-1 against one of the best clubs in the country to see both teams remain undefeated this season.
"I have really enjoyed the younger ECNL groups this fall and they continue to teach me so much about teaching the game at different ages,” said MO Girls Director of Coaching Scottie McDoniel. “I feel really lucky to be able to work with these teams, the U13 and U14's teams bring a fun energy to the program, the girls always work hard, and each family continues to show awesome commitment to the program. I am really excited to see how much the girls can develop over the next six months having seen them already come a long way this Fall with regards to their overall progress on and off the field."
“Phase 2” will see the program compete in four ECNL conference games while also playing in three ECNL National Showcase events. The first one is in Phoenix in November and the SLSG MO ECNL U19s final home game is against Michigan Hawks December 9th at the WWT Soccer Park before they finish their season away to Minnesota Thunder on December 15th.
“The purpose of Phase 2 is simply two-fold,” said Richards. “For the team, the emphasis is on our game model in preparation for the remaining conference games. For the players, there is a greater focus on both the college recruiting process and exposure, and for continued development both on and off the field through our #MTAG motto.”