March 12th, 2018 - Indianapolis, IN: With 5 days to go until Ohio Premier (OP) and Internationals travel in to Indianapolis, fcpride.org takes a look at how the Girls ECNL program has faired so far in year one.
Entering the spring phase of the season, both the U13 and U14 teams sit top of the Ohio Valley Conference after an impressive string of performances from both teams in the fall. The U13s have won 4, tied 2 and lost 1, while the U14s have won 5 and tied 2 so far. The U14 group also went 3-0-0 in the ECNL Arizona showcase in November, beating West Cost FC (CAS), Strikers FC (CAS) and Heat FC (NV).
The U15s went 3-0-0 at ECNL Sanford in January and split the travel weekend in Tennessee last week to give them a record of 2 wins and 3 losses in conference play. In order to qualify for Nationals, this weekend is of major importance for all of the teams. ECNL Director and Head Coach, McKinley Jones said: ‘When OP and Internationals come into town on March 17/18 we know we are going to have seven highly competitive games on both days. The transition to the ECNL has been very exciting and this weekend will add to the learning experience for our ECNL staff and players.’
The U16s, coached by Mike Beckner, currently occupy a Wildcard spot in the chase for a berth at the ECNL National Championships. It has been a solid start to the season with a 3-1-1 record in the Ohio Valley Conference and a 1-1-1 record at both the Florida and Texas showcases.
While our U17 team currently occupies one of those National Championship playoff spots, this weekend could be pivotal in their quest to make it to Seattle. OP is currently above them in the Ohio Valley conference and Saturday’s matchup could have big implications on qualifying come the end of the season. Matt Blackbourne’s U17s have had a great start to life in the ECNL going 1-1-1 in Florida, followed by an impressive 3-0-0 in the Texas showcase.
It has been a difficult season so far in conference play for the U18 group who picked up their first win against Tennessee SC on Sunday. However, they did well in Florida with 1 win and 2 ties from their three games. The Composite group also goes into this weekend looking to improve on their record with one win under their belt so far this season.
Executive Director of Coaching and U14 Head Coach, Jamie Gilbert, has been impressed with the exposure that the ECNL has brought to the club: ‘We all know the level of competition has increased with our move to the ECNL, we are playing against the best clubs in the country every week which is pushing our players and staff. However, the exposure to college programs has been fantastic. The showcases have offered our players the chance to play in front of every top college program in the nation. Transitioning to the ECNL, I think we had underestimated the amount of colleges that travel in to watch the conference games every week. It is nice to know that at the end of the cycle at FC Pride, every player will have been showcased better than if we were in any other platform.’
Gilbert also spoke about the continued support of the college coaching community: ‘If you look at the current College Rankings on Top Drawer Soccer, 21 out of the top 25 schools have been to watch our players play over this season. This just continues to prove that the college programs are invested in the product the ECNL puts on the field and that the ECNL will continue to be the number one platform to offer the exposure that the best players in the country need.’
Jones finished the discussion by adding: ‘In terms of the increased level, it is up to our program to answer the call on a daily basis. If we carry on putting in performances on the field every week, all of the clubs will have to take us seriously even though this is our first year in.’