“One of the most important things I got out of the experience was that anything is possible,” said O’Connor. “My team worked very hard to get where we are today and two years ago we never would have imagined ourselves there playing in front of hundreds of college coaches at 14-years-old.”
Perhaps the most memorable part of ECNL nationals, besides the games, was the opportunity to meet United States Women’s National Team legend Mia Hamm. There were a number of people with connections to USA Soccer at the event, but for almost every little girl that puts on a pair of shin guards, Hamm is the holy grail.
“She’s an idol to all the girls and to be able to meet her was the experience of a lifetime,” said Drohosky, a left back who enjoys jumping into the attack when she can and has been with the Stars for four years.
“It was awesome all around and the way everything was run makes me excited to earn the opportunity to go back next year. At the end of it hopefully I can say I’m a national champion.”
One of the ECNL’s objectives is to help girls soccer grow, both in terms of skill and in terms of popularity. Involving major sponsors and people like Hamm bring it beyond the scope of simply scouting and developing players for college; they’re planting seeds for the girls to fall in love with the game.
“It’s amazing,” said Poulin. “Just the fact she (Hamm) comes to an event like this is so special. It shows that the players care about this generation and about younger people. Seeing all the representatives of US Soccer, I thought was crazy.”