The inaugural ECNL season (August 2009 - July 2010) included 40 of the top girls’ soccer clubs throughout the country, with more than 2,000 players participating in ECNL competition in the U15, U16, and U17 age groups. Teams competed in one of two competitive flights (the “A” Flight or the “B” Flight) for the ECNL National Championship, the ECNL Club National Championship, and promotion and relegation between the flights. Games were played at 5 different ECNL National Showcase Events held throughout the country, and all participating teams came together for the first annual ECNL National Championship in Seattle, WA in July 2010.
For the 2010-2011 season, the ECNL expanded in membership, competitions, and age groups. First, twelve new clubs were added from a pool of nearly 80 applicants across the country, bringing the total number of ECNL member clubs to 52. The ECNL also expanded to include the U18 age group. Finally, the ECNL schedule expanded to include regional competition as well as the existing ECNL National Showcase Events. The ECNL National Championships are being held in Aurora, CO July 14-16, 2011.
The 2011-2012 ECNL season begins on August 1, 2011. For its third year, the ECNL has again expanded, now to include the nation’s top 66 female soccer clubs. Most importantly, the ECNL also expanded the competition platform to approximately 30 games per team, so that ECNL competition will be the primary, if not the only, competition for these 66 clubs and their players. By focusing solely on the elite competition within the ECNL, these clubs will be able to provide an improved environment with a better training-to-game ratio and more demanding and consistent competition. In short, in the 2011-2012 ECNL season players will be challenged more and get better faster than ever before. To begin extending the development opportunity to younger age groups, the ECNL will also include a reduced U14 schedule in 2011-2012.
The 2011-12 ECNL season will include over 5,000 games in 3 different competition formats: 1- ECNL Conference and Cross-Conference Games; 2- ECNL National Showcase Games; and 3-ECNL National Championship Games.
- ECNL Conference & Cross-Conference Games: Every ECNL Member Club has been placed into one of eight regional conferences for regular season play. All five ECNL age groups will play every team in their conference both home and away, and then will also play 2-4 cross-conference games against other regional opponents. In total, each team in the ECNL is scheduled to play 15-18 conference or cross-conference games per year.
- ECNL National Showcase Event Games: In addition to the conference and cross-conference games, there are five ECNL National Showcase Events throughout the year where participating teams play 3 games at each event. Each team at the U15 and U18 age groups will participate in two of these events, while each team at the U16 and U17 age groups will participate in three of these events. These games are key to determining the ECNL National Champions at each age group. ECNL National Showcase Events are the largest collegiate recruiting events in the country (drawing more than 200 different colleges to each event), and are scouted by US Soccer National Staff.
- ECNL National Championships Games: The 2012 ECNL National Championships will be held June 25-30, 2012, in Chicago, IL. This will leave the month of July as a “rest month” before the season starts again in August 2012. All ECNL Member Clubs participate in the National Championships. Roughly 500 games will be played spanning the 5-day period with over 6,000 participants.