ECNL San Diego: U17 event outlook

The ECNL National Event this weekend in San Diego features 38 clubs from across the country competing in southern California over three days. In total, 231 matches from across all five age groups make up the fourth national event of the 2011-2012 season.

At U17, we’ll see an early test for a strong squad, a chance to keep an undefeated season alive and a team looking to earn the final ECNL playoff spot. ESPNHS breaks down the featured storylines from this weekend’s games in San Diego.

Earning Their Rankings

In the latest ESPNHS ECNL U17 Power Rankings, Slammers occupies the No. 4 spot and Colorado Rush has earned No. 5. In reality, there are four teams fighting for those last two spots, including Mustang and Scorpions, who dropped out of the rankings this week after losing to PDA. Well, all four of those teams are in action this weekend, and the two that perform the best are likely to be ranked next week. A quick glance at who they play: Slammers takes on McLean, TSC Hurricane and Freestate Alliance; Colorado Rush faces PDA, Freestate Alliance and Ohio Premier; Mustang will play Freestate Alliance, PDA and Bethesda; and Scorpions meet San Juan, Crossfire Premier and Real So Cal.

Early Test for PDA

Notice how many times “PDA” appears in the above paragraph? The squad faces a handful of top quality teams this weekend in San Diego, just about as far away from home as these northeasterners will play all year. The season is still young for PDA, who sits at 4-2 but has played one of the toughest schedules around. PDA's losses have come to Dallas Sting and TSC Hurricane (both Flight A top 10 squads), and it has beaten teams like Scorpions and Stars of Mass. And the team's tough schedule continues this weekend with games against Colorado Rush, Mustang, and San Juan. After its Saturday game, PDA will have played six straight matches against teams in the top 10 of their national standings.

McLean Looks to Make a Move

McLean currently sits tied for first in the National Flight B standings (though after the goal differential tie-breaker, the team is listed as second place). First place Solar Chelsea is not competing in the San Diego event, meaning this would be the perfect opportunity for McLean to make a move and earn sole possession of the top spot. Two of its three games this weekend will count toward its Flight B record: a Saturday match with Pleasanton Rage and a Sunday meeting with West Coast. McLean will look to the duo of Morgan Reuther and Nicole Johnson to generate points as they’ve done all season.

Connecticut FC Still Undefeated

Watch out or they’ll sneak up on you. In a Northeast Conference usually dominated by PDA, Stars of Mass and Scorpions, the U17 squad from Connecticut FC is making a name for itself. The team is 4-0-2 on the season and has a chance to continue its undefeated streak this weekend in San Diego. Matches against Pleasanton Rage, West Coast and Las Vegas Premier could push the streak to nine before Connecticut FC goes up against those northeast big guns in mid-April. On the weekend of the NCAA Final Four, this could be the ECNL’s Cinderella.

Big Weekend for TSC Hurricane

If you’re still getting used to the name, this could be the weekend that TSC Hurricane can finally prove it is more than just the new kid on the block. Coming into its final national event of the season, the Hurricane sit in ninth place in Flight A standings. Remember, the top eight get a chance to play for the national championship in June. So this weekend is crucial for the Oklahoma squad, who needs to put as many points under its belt as possible to not only get them in the top eight, but also to provide enough cushion to put them in the championship tournament. TSC Hurricane, with Elizabeth Keester and Kristen Killion, has matches with Real So Cal, Slammers and Arsenal that decide the team's fate.