By Kristen Falecki ’18
One of our very own students here at Pacific Lutheran University won the ECNL-Elite Clubs National League- national championship title for soccer in 2012. Nationals is the highest championship title for female youth soccer.
On June 26, 2012, current PLU first-year soccer player, Katie Coronado, won the ECNL national championship title with her ’96 Washington Premier U15 ECNL team. At 15-years-old, Coronado played in a close championship game in Waukegan Sports Complex, IL, that resulted in an intense 4-3 defeat against finalist Minnesota Thunder Academy ECNL.
Coronado recalls the intensity of the tournament, and especially in the final championship game. The pressure was high and there was no room for mistakes, but Coronado’s team was prepared and ready.
The Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) has been said to have created the top female youth club competition in the world. As a result, the ECNL teams attract the top female players from all around the country. In fact, according to ECNL statistics, players developed in ECNL clubs make up approximately 80-90 percent of the total US Soccer Youth National Team player pool, from which the US Women’s National Soccer Team pulls.
Leading up to the national championship, Coronado and her ECNL team of 26 players scored 34 goals and allowed only 11 goals against during league play. This earned them an impressive record of 11 wins, six ties, and only three losses that year, landing them first place in their division and clearing the way to play in the championship tournament.
Head coach of the 96’ Washington Premier ECNL team, Seth Spidahl, said, “If I could say one thing about the 96’ team is that they really strived together. When you have a talented group of players that come together, single purposed, single minded, and together, well then that can be a really powerful force and that’s what that team did.”
In addition to years of playing competitive soccer year round before joining ’96 Washington Premier U15 ECNL, Coronado and her teammates practiced four days a week for months leading up to the championship tournament. She was also expected to train on her own the few days off from practice.
Coronado dedicated most of her time to soccer, but, to her, it was worth it.
“Sometimes I wanted to give up because I wanted more of a social life, but I always stayed because I would remember all the people I’ve met and all the fun I’ve had, and there’s no better feeling than stepping onto that field,” Coronado said.
That being said, it is not an easy feat to be crowned the champion in your age group in the ECNL national championship, but Coronado and her team had what it takes.
Coronado plans to major in kinesiology at Pacific Lutheran University with hopes of becoming a head soccer coach.
“I want to be a soccer coach because I know that I want to do something I love for the rest of my life. Being a coach would make me feel as if I could give other children what was given to me and give others all of the opportunities I had,” Coronado said.