Six FC Stars ECNL teams spent the past week playing at the ECNL Girls National Playoffs in Redmond, Washington, creating lifelong memories both on and off the field.
Stars sent teams from almost every competitive age group to the tournament, which in total featured more than 325 different teams. Our U13 ECNL Blue, U14 ECNL Blue, U15 ECNL Blue, and U17 ECNL Blue teams competed in the Champions League division, while our U16 ECNL Blue team and U17 ECNL White team competed in the Showcase A Cup.
The competitive environment in Redmond, which in addition to featuring the top girls teams in the country saw hundreds of college coaches in attendance, was an opportunity well received by all at the club.
“I was very proud of all our players, coaches and families,” said FC Stars Executive Director Jason Dewhurst. “It was a great experience, and the competition was fierce. All our teams were very competitive in most, if not all, of the games. To be able to compete and coach against the best in the nation is a great learning curve for all our players and coaches.”
“It was a positive experience for the girls,” said U14 ECNL Blue Head Coach Kevin Mascary. “Even though we wanted to move on to the next round, the week was full of growth and positive experiences all around. We are full of motivation and excitement to get going next year.
“In this league, no game is a given win,” said U17 ECNL White goalkeeper Lily Vermilya. “Every team puts their best foot forward. Nothing is guaranteed, which is why our team's competitive mentality and bond set us apart from the competition.”
Verilya’s team went closest to lifting silverware, losing 2-0 to Sting Austin in the finals. Stars had a tough road to even get to the playoffs, needing to win seven of their final 11 games to reach Redmond. They won every single one of them, then almost ran the table completely in the Showcase A Cup.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better season,” said Vermilya. “These girls became my family in the span of a few months. Even though we didn’t win a national title, our team made it further than anyone could have ever expected, which was a win for us.
Our U15 ECNL Blue were the only Stars team to advance out of the group stage of the Champions League, winning all three games by multiple goals. Unfortunately for them, they suffered a close 2-0 defeat to PDA Blue in the Round of 16. A win would have sent them to the ECNL Girls National Playoff Quarterfinals held in Richmond, Virginia in early July.
With Redmond being located roughly 15 miles east of Seattle, players, parents, and coaches were able to take in much of the surrounding area in their time off the field. Trips to the Space Needle and the downtown district were thoroughly enjoyed. A club-wide dinner was held on Thursday night (pictured below), allowing the players to feel a community atmosphere 3,000 miles away from home.
“Off the field we made sure to eat meals together, and enjoy time with each other,” said Vermilya. “I believe, along with the rest of the players, that our team was able to succeed due to the friendship, trust, and love for each other we created off the field.
“Personally this is the closest team I’ve ever been on, which has allowed for the most successful and enjoyable season we have ever had.”
The tournament signaled the official end of the 2021-22 season for FC Stars, one that started all the way back in August with preseason camps. According to Dewhust, it’s now time for many to simply rest and reflect.
“At this level, individual and collective mistakes are punished so we all need to learn from this,” he said. “We as a staff now need to debrief and plan for the upcoming year to make sure we are more competitive next year.”
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