The Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) regular season is a gauntlet of top individual and team talent. Without the highest level of commitment, focus, and skill, the goal of making it to the postseason can be a most daunting task.
Ohio Elite proved to be up to the challenge, qualifying 3 teams to the ECNL playoffs that were held in Seattle,Washington during the week of July 21-26. The u17 and u16 teams qualified for the Champions League, putting them in a position to vie for an elusive national championship. The u15s qualified for the North American Cup with the hopes of bringing home a championship of their own. Each of these teams represented a different fundamental value of what Ohio Elite brings to the ECNL.
The u17s (coached by Doug Bracken) started the season with a perfect record, winning the first 6 games. After a draw and a loss in games seven and eight, the team rebounded to finish with an impressive 11-2-1 conference record and a ticket to the Champions League. Heading into Seattle, the team was ready to take their +19 goal differential and once again attempt to impose their will on the opponents, something they had been doing all season long. “This group is relentless in the attack. We have extremely dangerous front runners to complement an attack minded midfield and backline,” said Doug Bracken. Although the team was not able to advance beyond Seattle, they showed their resiliency and finished the week with a 3-2 win over Florida Elite. “A win against a quality side like Florida Elite on the last day of the week is nothing to take for granted. It is extremely difficult to do what our girls have done this season and getting a win in the Champions league will give us the added confidence that it takes to advance to the National Finals in the future,” said Bracken.
The u16s (coached by Tim Lesiak) took a bit of different route to the Champions League. After starting the season 0-2-1, they finished with a conference record of 11-2-1, good enough for the chance to play in Seattle. “To win as many consecutive games as this group did is very impressive in and of itself, but to do it under the pressure of playing in must-win situations is an entirely different level of impressive,” said Tim Lesiak. This is a team that consistently out-possessed opponents and committed to team defending on the rare occasions that the other team was able to win possession. Combine this with the abundance of personality and you get a competitive edge that led to an 18 game overall win streak and advanced the team to the National Finals in Richmond, Virginia! The u16s swept through the competition in Seattle, culminating in an exciting 3-1 win over PDA.
As a result, they finished as the fourth ranked team in the country and as the only team in Ohio Elite history to make it to the national finals!
The u15s (coached by Doug Bracken) were not to be outdone. At the midpoint of the season, it was unclear as to whether or not this group was going to make it to Seattle. Not only did they make it, they qualified for the North American Finals. “In sports, luck is not always on your side, but when you work hard on the things that are within your control, you will always have a chance,” said Doug Bracken. The u15s had some heartbreaking late game losses and/or draws that would have been crushing to a lot of teams, but this group proved to be different from a lot of teams and the result was an impressive record of 2 wins and 1 loss in the North American Finals.