NorCal NPL teams impress at ENPL National Playoffs
NorCal NPL teams represented the league well at the 2019 ENPL National Playoffs in Rockford, Illinois. Over the five day event, NorCal clubs compiled an overall record of 22-7-4 and six of the nine teams got out of their groups into the knockout stage. Out of those six teams, U16B Napa Soccer Academy, U14B CenCal Cosmos, and U14B MVLA Pumas all have qualified for the ENPL Finals in Colorado while Santa Clara Sporting U19B made the ENPL National Semifinals before being beaten to end their run.
Here is how each of the NorCal sides finished the event:
Image via US Club Soccer
The ENPL U19 Boys division was a bit of a different format then the other age groups as only the top 16 teams were invited to compete for the ENPL National Championship. After finishing top of their group, Santa Clara Sporting was onto the National Semifinals but was beaten by Concorde Fire (ECNL Southeast), 2-1, in a hard fought match.
Both of NorCal’s representatives in the U17 division were knocked out in a difficult group stage. San Juan Blue led their group going into the final day, but were beaten 5-3 by the defending ENPL National Champions, GPS MA Red Elite (New England Premier NPL). San Juan finished on six points with two wins and just the one loss.
Coming off a 0-5 loss on Saturday, Santa Clara Sporting rebounded nicely beating Solar (ECNL Texas) 4-3. Sporting ended up tied for first place in the group on six points but lost out on head-to-head with Alabama FC (ECNL Southeast). Both Sporting and San Juan narrowly missed out on the two wild card spots.
Image via US Club Soccer
Both NorCal representatives, Napa Soccer Academy and Union Sacramento won their groups on Monday with Napa beating Texans SC (ECNL Texas) 3-1, while Union Sacramento scored a late equalizer to hold off second place GPS MA Red Elite (New England Premier NPL) 2-2. On Tuesday, in the ENPL Finals Qualification round games Napa SA secured a comeback 3-2 victory over FC Wisconsin (ECNL Midwest) as Gera Perez slotted home the winner in the final seconds. Union was a bit unlucky as they lost a 2-1 decision to NEFC in overtime to end their ENPL run.
ENPL Finals Qualifier: Napa Soccer Academy
Although neither NorCal representative made it to the ENPL Finals both Davis Legacy and Manteca FC Boca performed well. Manteca entered the final day at the top of their group but were beaten 2-1 by Valeo FC Bayern (New England Premier NPL). Davis entered in the same situation but were also beaten, 2-1, by GPS MA Red Elite (New England Premier NPL). Despite the loss, Davis qualified as a wild card for the ENPL Qualification Round but Valeo FC Bayern knocked out their second NorCal side 3-2 with a last minute winner.
Amazingly, NorCal NPL will have two of the four ENPL National Semifinalists after both CenCal Cosmos and MVLA Pumas Blue advanced to the ENPL Final Four. Both teams completed the formality of group play on Monday with CenCal beating Liverpool FC IA Michigan (Midwest Development NPL) 5-1 and MVLA drawing 0-0 with Villareal Virginia Academy (VA NPL). On Tuesday, in Quarterfinal matches CenCal beat Strikers FC (NPL West) 2-0 while MVLA beat AHFC (ECNL Texas) 2-1 to book their spots in the Semifinals.
ENPL Finals Qualifier: CenCal Cosmos Grey
ENPL Finals Qualifier: MVLA Pumas Blue