The goal of every team in the ECNL at the beginning of the season is to be crowned their ECNL Conference Champion and the ECNL Champions’ League National Champion. To accomplish this goal, teams will need to progress through ECNL conference and national showcase competition during the regular season, advance in the ECNL Play-Offs, and then win the ECNL Finals.
In every age group, the ECNL will crown a conference champion in each of the 8 ECNL conferences, an ECNL Champions League National Champion, and an ECNL North American Cup Champion.
The championship path for each age group is outlined below. The ECNL post-season includes two-stages for most age groups - the ECNL Play-Offs and the ECNL Finals. Below is the path to the ECNL Play-Offs and ECNL Finals for teams from the Midwest Conference:
U14 Post-Season Championship Path: Champion determined in June
Every conference game will count in conference standings. At the end of the regular season, the top 2 teams from the Midwest Conference (based solely on conference games) will automatically qualify directly to the U14 ECNL National Finals in June. Due to the strength of the Midwest Conference, the third place team from the conference will also qualify for the event as a wildcard. The ECNL U14 National Champion will be crowned in June at the ECNL Play-Offs.
U18 Post-Season Championship Path: Champion determined in June
Every conference game and national showcase game will count in conference standings. At the end of the regular season, the top two teams from the Midwest Conference (based solely on conference games) will automatically qualify directly to the ECNL National Finals in July. The third and fourth place team in the conference (based solely on conference games) will qualify for wildcard consideration, where their results in all games will determine whether they gain a wildcard berth. The ECNL U18 National Champion will be crowned in June at the ECNL Play-Offs.
U15, U16, and U17 Post-Season Championship Path: Qualify for ECNL Play-Offs
ECNL Champions League Qualification (32 Teams)
Every conference game will count in conference standings. At the end of the regular season, the top three teams in the Midwest Conference (based solely on conference games) will automatically qualify for the ECNL Champions League. The first games in the ECNL Champions League will be played at the ECNL Play-Offs in June.
The next two teams in the conference (from conference games only) will be in consideration for a wildcard to the ECNL Champions League. The top teams in wildcard consideration, using points-per-game from every game played throughout the season - (conference and national event), will receive the final spots in the Champions League at the ECNL Play-Offs.
North American Cup Qualification (16 Teams)
After all qualifiers are determined for the Champions League, the qualifers for the North American Cup will be determined. The top 16 teams in the country that did not qualify for the Champions League, based on points-per-game from all games, will qualify for the North American Cup.
ECNL Champions League Play-Offs Structure:
All qualifying teams will be placed into one of eight (8) groups of four (4) teams each based on seeding. Seeding will be done through use of four (4) different seeding “pods.” The top pod will include the seven (7) conference champions, and the next Automatic Qualifier team with the highest points per game from conference games only. From the seven (7) conference champions, the team with the highest points-per-game (based on conference games only) will be placed in “Group 1” as Seed 1 (the top overall seed). The team with the second highest points-per-game (based on conference games only) will be placed in “Group 2” as seed 1. This process will continue for the seven (7) conference champions, with the eighth team from the top pod in “Group 8”). (Note: For conferences with two divisions and thus two division winners, the conference champion will be the team with the most points (points per game) between the two division winners. If the teams are tied on points (points per game), the tie-breakers to determine the conference champion will be: (i) head-to-head result (or if the teams played more than once, the team with the most points in head-to-head competition); (ii) goal difference; (iii) goals scored; and (iv) goals against.
The remaining pods will be determined based on points-per-game of all games played. Teams ranked 9-16 based on points per game will be placed in pod 2, teams ranked 17-24 will be placed in pod 3, and teams ranked 25-32 will be placed in pod 4. Teams will be randomly drawn from each pod for each group. If a team is drawn into a group that already includes a team from their conference, the team will be placed back into the pod and a new team will be drawn. All teams from pod 2 will be Seed 2 in their groups, all teams from pod 3 will be Seed 3 in their groups, and all teams from pod 4 will be Seed 4 in their groups.
A blind draw will take place approximately one week prior to the ECNL National Play-Offs. One team will be drawn from each Seeding Pool to create 8 competition groups of 4 teams each. If a team from a Seeding Pool is drawn into a competition group that already includes a team from their conference, the team will be put back into the Seeding Pool and another team will be drawn from the Seeding Pool. This will continue until a team from another conference is drawn from the Seeding Pool or until there is no alternative. This blind draw will continue until all 8 competition groups are drawn.
Teams will play a 3-game round robin at the ECNL Play-Offs over four days. The group winner of each group of four will then play a quarter-final match to advance to the ECNL Final Four.
ECNL North American Cup Structure:
The sixteen (16) teams that qualify for the ECNL North American Cup will play a four-game knock-out cup competition, including placement consolation games, to crown the ECNL North American Cup Champion. All games will be played at the ECNL Play-Offs.
Qualifiers for the ECNL North American Cup will be put into two seeding pods; Pod 1 will be the top 8 teams (seeded 1-8) based on PPG from all games. Pod 2 will be teams 9-16 based on PPG from all games. Teams from Pod 1 will be placed, by seed, into bracket slots as provided below:
- Seed 1 – Bracket Slot 1
- Seed 2 – Bracket Slot 16
- Seed 3 – Bracket Slot 9
- Seed 4 – Bracket Slot 8
- Seed 5 – Bracket Slot 5
- Seed 6 – Bracket Slot 12
- Seed 7 – Bracket Slot 13
- Seed 8 – Bracket Slot 4
Teams from Pod 2 will be randomly drawn into remaining bracket slots. If a team is drawn into a bracket slot that would require them to play a team from their conference in the first round, the team will be placed back into Pod 2 and a new team will be drawn.
After the first round of North American Cup games, the losing 8 teams from the first round of games will be in the consolation bracket. The opponents for these teams in the consolation games will be randomly drawn each day to avoid same conference match-ups as much as possible.
U15 - U17 ECNL Champions League Final Four: Crowning the ECNL National Champions
In the U15-U17 age groups, the top four (4) teams from the ECNL Champions League Division will advance from the ECNL Play-offs in June to the ECNL Final Four. The qualifying teams will play a semi-final and championship game, with opponents selected in a “double blind” draw. The winning two teams from each semi-final will advance to the ECNL Champions League National Championship, while the other teams will play in the third place game.