At major national ECNL events this season, TopDrawerSoccer asked a few players to provide logs of their showcase experiences. Isabelle De Buyl of KC Athletics provided the first attendance at the ECNL National Event in San Diego. De Buyl is an outstanding center-back for his club team and was selected to take part in the national team game on Friday.
Our hope with these logs is that budding players see what happens in the weekend for players from the best club teams – in terms of games, preparation and recovery. We are fortunate to have these first hand testimonials from some of the best players around. The following section was written by Isabelle De Buyl with only minimal editing by TopDrawerSoccer staff.
I woke up early to watch my team play. It was fun to cheer them on but I wish I could play with them. After the game I came back to the hotel and changed and started to prepare for the ECNL national selection game. Usually, before a game, I like to listen to music to help me lift my spirits, but also to help me get in the zone and start thinking about the game. I like to imagine myself making a good tackle or passing a good pass. Before the game, I was really excited and honored to have the opportunity to represent my club, Kansas City Athletics, and play against players of this quality. I was also a little nervous because I knew there would probably be a lot of people in the game, and I knew the pressure would be intense. I think one of my strengths is that I’m pretty good at sorting things out and focusing on the game. In some ways I like crowds because it’s exciting when people are cheering you on and that is. an incredible feeling of playing in front of people who support you.
I had a blast participating in the ECNL national selection match! It was so cool to have so many people watching me, especially my teammates! It was an intense match and we were very well matched. I was amazed at how well we played together considering we had only met a few hours before the game. I felt confident with the players around me and did my best to represent my own skills, my passion for the sport, and the values ââand sportsmanship that my club taught me.
After the game, my teammates practically tackled me with excitement. I couldn’t believe they were all waving for me and were so excited for me. It meant the world to me and it was an experience I will always remember.
After photos and lots of hugs, we returned to the hotel and ate at the hotel restaurant. I had a short delay before my next game so I went to bed early and made sure to drink plenty of water!
Today I woke up at 6:00 am and got ready to have breakfast with my team at 6:15 am and then we went for a team walk to stretch our legs. Before this match, I made sure to stretch well and get bloated !!
Unfortunately we lost 3-2 to FC Dallas, but I think my team and I learned a lot. We fought hard and saw a lot of players step up and keep us positive. We lost 2-0 at half-time and we managed to tie it 2-2. We just couldn’t find the back of the net and they got a PK to win it. I was frustrated after the game because I hate losing, but I think we have grown as a team and learned what we need to work on to improve. After the game, we returned to the hotel and took some ice baths. Then I showered and put on some comfortable clothes and a group of us went shopping for a little while and had lunch. We ate at this Ramen Noodle Bowl place, and it was so good, definitely much better than the ones packed at home! After that we met some of our other friends at the beach to watch the sunset. It was so pretty and peaceful. The water was so cold we probably could have ice bathed in the ocean, ha! Overall it was a very relaxing Saturday. After watching the sunset we returned to the hotel and had dinner as a team. We had pasta and a salad which is one of my favorite pre-game meals! My team and I were all pretty exhausted from the game, so most of my team fell asleep right after dinner. Some of us, including me, watched a bit of Netflix and hung out until bedtime, which was 10pm. Spending time with my teammates when we travel is one of my favorite parts of going to storefronts and games out of town.
I woke up around 7:00 am and packed my bags as we had planned to leave directly from my match for the airport. After I finished my bags, I went downstairs and had breakfast with my team at 7.45am. Then we headed for the fields!
We came out with a win to end the weekend with a 2-1 score against Da Anza Force. Honestly, it wasn’t my best game, but I dug deep, stayed focused and never gave up. I know I’ll have a movie to criticize so I can find what I can fix. Sometimes you learn more when you lose or when you have a bad game rather than winning all the time and always playing well. So even though I have been disappointed with my performance, I have no doubts that my coach will help me identify areas of my game that I need to improve. I’m proud that my team won because we deserved it.
All in all it was an amazing weekend. I made a lot of memories, learned a lot of lessons and met a lot of new people. ECNL has opened up so many opportunities to me and I am very grateful for it. I love playing on my team and being able to compete with top players from across the country.