Challenge 96 ECNL placed 5th nationally in the ECNL National Final North American League this past week in Richmond, Virginia. After winning their group at the ECNL National Playoffs (Denver, CO) with three decisive victories, Challenge qualified for the National Finals and were drawn into Group A with McLean SC (VA), Pleasanton Rage (NoCal), and Albertson Fury (NY). Group B consisted of St Louis-Scott Gallagher (MO), Solar Chelsea (TX), Colorado Rush, and Atlanta Fire. Finishing with a record of 1-1-2, Challenge played four tightly contested matches that could have gone either way while earning a win against Colorado Rush, a draw against Pleasanton Rage, and dropping two heart breaking losses to McLean and Albertson Fury.
'Advancing to the ECNL Finals and finishing 5th in the country is a great achievement for the team and club' said Director of Coaching Pat O'Toole. 'These girls have improved tremendously over the past few years and to play in the final 8 is something they should be very proud of, not to mention the entire Challenge family. Obviously our goal was to win a National Championship but I know we are all coming out of the weekend knowing we were very close; there is no doubt that the girls are going into the fall season hungry to take that last final step and bring a trophy home to Houston.'
ECNL Director Stuart Self had this to say about the week: 'There is no question that our girls were a little unlucky at times but they also played an exciting and attacking brand of soccer while competing against the nation's elite. Overall the experience was tremendous and our players really enjoyed themselves while also learning what it will take for us to win the title next year. 96 ECNL is a great example of our developmental model here, at Challenge, and hopefully they inspire a lot of our other teams and players throughout the club. We are excited to get started again in August as the future is bright for not just this group, but all of our ECNL teams!
'This was a great event for our players and there are a lot of positives to take away from it as we head into preseason in August' added ECNL Assistant Director Chris Maravalli. This team has proven throughout the year that they can compete and win against the best in the country, and we are all excited to get started soon. Hopefully the girls take some time to rest, re-energize, and prepare to make a championship run in the 2013/14 season!'
96 ECNL will be off for the next few weeks before starting preseason in early August. Congrats ladies! The entire Challenge family is proud of you as you have represented us very well!