ECLIPSE SELECT TEAMS EXCEL AT ECNL PLAYOFFS, U18/19 GIRLS CROWNED NATIONAL CHAMPIONS
Eclipse Select sent six Girls teams and four Boys teams to the ECNL Playoffs.
OAK BROOK, ILL. (July 13, 2021) – The Eclipse Select Soccer Club capped off the 2021 season with the U-18/19 Girls being crowned Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) National Champions, the U-13 Girls advanced to the National Championship Semi-Finals, and the U-17 and U-15 Boys advanced to the ECNL Finals.
The U-18/19 girls defeated International SC 3-2 in the Champions League Final to claim the club’s fourth ECNL National Championship and the first since 2014. Both teams were destined to meet in the final as the ECNL featured both teams in a preview prior to the start of the event as national title favorites. Both groups went undefeated in the regular season and deservingly played their way into the final. The title match lived up to the hype. Eclipse took a 2-0 lead by the 51st minute. International made a valiant comeback towards the end but Eclipse kept them at an arm’s length for the rest of the match without relinquishing the lead.
— ECNL Girls (@theECNL) July 5, 2021
“The ECNL National Championship is truly the deserved culmination for this group of players,” said ECNL Girls Director of Coaching, Mike Nesci. “It is a group of players that has had tremendous quality, sophistication, and style over the years, along with a perseverance and dedication to finish their last game ever for the club as champions.”
After claiming the conference title in the spring, The 2003/2002 birth year group were seeded third overall in a single-elimination knock-out bracket featuring the top 16 ECNL teams in the country. This was familiar territory for them as they reached the U-14 ECNL Champions League final four years ago in an identical format but were unable to seal the deal. With 2017 on their minds and the 2020 season taken away due to the pandemic, the U-18/19 Girls closed their final season claiming the highest award in female youth soccer.
The U-13 girls’ magical run included a penalty shootout victory over FC Stars of Mass. Followed by a 2-1 upset victory over the number one overall seed Crossfire Premier. The 2008’s dramatic run in the Champions League came to a pause after the quarterfinals when Hurricane Elsa halted proceedings long enough to make postponing the semi-finals and finals unavoidable. This made a loud statement to the rest of the competition for the years to come in the group’s first year competing in the ECNL. They are looking to resume the U-13 Champions League bracket during the ECNL Finals later this month.
The U-17 and U-15 boys will continue their quest to a National Championship as the ECNL National Finals will take place in St. Louis, Mo. from July 22-26. Both groups played in the ECNL playoffs’ Champions League Group Stages. Both sides finished undefeated and top of their respective groups. The job was not done as the final advancement games needed determining before the winners could punch their ticket to the Finals. The 2004’s played a tough Houston Dynamo side where Roman Hernandez’s 22-yard freekick and the backline’s shutout was enough to progress 1-0. The 2006’s blitzed Match Fit Academy in their advancement game putting four goals past the squad from New Jersey. The final match of the ECNL playoffs ended 4-1 and now both groups will prepare for the final stage later this month.
“The ECNL playoffs is a tough event to play in.” said ECNL Boys Director of Coaching, Cleo Huitron.” There are so many well-coached teams with a ton of quality. I am so proud of all our teams that came here to play. We did not earn all the results we aimed for, but we played hard till the end. Our boys will take the opportunity to get better and put in the work to come back. It was a tremendous showing of soccer all around.”
Eclipse sent a total of ten teams to the ECNL’s postseason. Six girls and four boys teams progressed from the Midwest Conference. On the female side, the U-18/19, U-14, and U-13’s all secured spots in the Champions League by winning the Midwest Conference on route to compete for an ECNL Girls National Championship. Two U-15 teams, including one from the North Location, competed in the North American Cup while the U-17’s participated in the Showcase Cup. For the males, the U-17, U-15, U-14, and U-13’s all earned the right for Champions League places by winning the Midwest Conference Championship to play towards an ECNL Boys National Championship.