Previewing the 2017-18 NPL season: South Central

Featuring Lake Highlands Girls Classic League, Red River NPL, Texas Champions League, United Soccer Clubs-Champions League

nationalpremierleagues.com

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Oct. 28, 2017) – The National Premier Leagues (NPL) enters its sixth season with 21 leagues, about 300 clubs and nearly 2,000 teams. And while the expansive platform has settled into a niche of quality, consistent programming, the NPL also welcomes change that is facilitating new growth.

Member leagues continue to be led by club-driven models, with US Club Soccer initiatives like Players First, id² and PDP providing necessary support. The newest addition to the landscape is the Elite National Premier League (ENPL), which serves as the top spot for boys competition. The ENPL is a collaboration between US Club Soccer and the ECNL to create a competitive platform for 14-U through 18/19-U boys age groups.

Sixteen qualifying competitions – consisting of NPLs and Boys ECNL Conferences – are now working towards ENPL qualification on the boys side of the brackets. For NPL teams, that results in a modified NPL Finals structure in 2018. While the girls are still positioning towards an NPL Finals run, boys teams are divided among multiple events.

ENPL-qualifying NPL teams have three playoff opportunities depending on age group:

  • 14-U teams advance to the National Cup XVII Finals
  • 15-U, 16-U and 17-U teams advance to either the ENPL Eastern Playoffs or the ENPL Western Playoffs
  • 19-U teams advance to the ENPL 19-U National Championship

Six NPLs do not have ENPL qualifying status, though, so their postseason opportunities are different. Those leagues are Central States NPL, Great Lakes Alliance, Gulf States Premier League, Red River NPL, Southern California NPL and Washington NPL.

Here are the four NPLs in the South Central region:

Lake Highlands Girls Classic League:

The regular season has been underway for about two months, and member clubs from throughout northern Texas are positioning towards Texas Champions League berths.

Qualifiers from the Lake Highlands Girls Classic League and the United Soccer Clubs-Champions League (girls members) are currently competing in the Texas Champions League (14-U through 19-U) for advancement to the 2018 Girls NPL Finals. However, league play within the Lake Highlands Girls Classic League continues for those aiming for bids to next year’s Texas Champions League.

Lake Highlands Girls Classic League recently announced 112 collegiate commitments from the league, proving the club-based environment is facilitating success at not only the club level, but also among individual players.

US Club Soccer also sanctions the Junior Development League, featuring 10-U through 13-U programming, within the Lake Highlands Girls Classic League.

Red River NPL:

Despite the 2017-18 season being the Red River NPL’s inaugural campaign, the league has already demonstrated a commitment to valuable programming for its members. The new NPL member hosted a PDP this past weekend in Tulsa, Okla., and its feeder league – the Oklahoma Premier Clubs – will host a LaLiga Formation Methodology course in less than three months.

The Red River NPL includes 14 clubs spanning Arkansas, south Kansas, Oklahoma and north Texas. League winners will advance to the NPL Finals. On the girls side of the brackets, that will be the 2018 Girls NPL Finals. And on the boys side, qualifiers advance to the aforementioned 2018 Boys Western NPL Finals for 15-U, 16-U and 17-U teams. The 18/19-U division winner reports to the 2018 Boys 19-U NPL Finals. The youngest boys age groups – 13-U and 14-U – advance to the National Cup XVII Finals.

Regular season action officially kicked off in mid-August. Arkansas Comets has left its mark on the most divisions to date, as the club leads four boys age groups (14-U, 15-U, 16-U and 19-U) in the standings. Sporting Arkansas is not far behind, as it leads – or is tied for the lead – in three divisions (13-U boys, 13-U girls and 17-U girls). West Side Alliance is in front of two age groups (17-U boys and 15-U girls).

Texas Champions League:

The Texas Champions League, featuring 14-U through 18/19-U girls age groups, kicked off on Oct. 1 as qualifying teams from the Lake Highlands Girls Classic League and the United Soccer Clubs-Champions League (girls) are competing for berths to the 2018 Girls NPL Finals.

This league was among those that had to reorganize its schedule after the effects of Hurricane Harvey.

United Soccer Clubs-Champions League:

The United Soccer Clubs has seen steady expansion since its creation in Fall 2015. There are about 35 clubs representing the greater Houston, Austin and San Antonio areas of the Lone Star State.

The United Soccer Clubs-Champions League represents the NPL tier of programming. For girls, these teams compete for slots to the Texas Champions League – a prerequisite of the 2018 Girls NPL Finals. For boys, the USC-Champions League is the final step towards qualification to new ENPL playoff opportunities – specifically the 2018 ENPL Western Playoffs and 2018 ENPL 19-U National Championship.

ABOUT US CLUB SOCCER:

A National Association member of the U.S. Soccer Federation, US Club Soccer fosters the growth and development of soccer clubs in order to create the best possible environment for players of all ages.

Anchored by Players First and its five pillars of Club Development, Coaching Development, Player Development, Parent Engagement & Education and Player Health & Safety, US Club Soccer offers registration, league- and cup-based competition platforms, player identification and a variety of other programming, resources and services.

US Club Soccer is sponsored by Nike and supported by LaLiga through a technical partnership.

usclubsoccer.org | Players First | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube