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ORLANDO, Fla. (Dec. 31, 2012)
– The 2012-2013 US Youth Soccer National League
Under-15, Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 Girls resumed league play at ESPN's Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla., today. Each age group is represented by four of the eight teams per division this weekend, and will finalize league standings until the remaining four teams per division compete in Las Vegas, Nev., March 15-17.
National League teams are club soccer teams with an individual proven track record of success in US Youth Soccer regional and national competitions, and are among the nation's best. Games are being played in conjunction with the Disney Soccer Showcase, creating another significant opportunity for the nations collegiate and National Team coaches to see National League players in an environment of meaningful play, citing the competitive level of each game as every team has to earn their spot in the competition, regardless of club affiliation or location.
The league is an extension of the highly successful US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues (US Youth Soccer Region I Premier League, Midwest Regional League, Region III Premier League and Far West Regional League). The National League provides an avenue for teams to play in meaningful matches against top competition from across the country for continued development. In addition to recruiting opportunities, the top-two finishers from each division (Blue and Red) will earn a ticket to the 2013 US Youth Soccer National Championships
, making each match valuable to the team's fate as it could make or break their chance at competing for a National Championship.
Under-15 Tampa Bay United Premier (FL) came to Orlando tied atop the Blue Division with a chance to clinch a berth to Nationals this week. Tampa Bay defeated Region II Champion Ambassadors FC (OH-N), Region IV semifinalist and Cal-South State Champion Legends FC (CA-S), and Colorado State Champion Pride Predators 98 (CO) in Wilson, N.C. last month, with their only blemish coming in a 1-0 defeat to defending National Champion MSC Coyotes Green (MD). Tampa needs at least two wins and a draw this week to lock down a berth to Nationals, and they got off to a good start with a 5-0 victory over Eclipse Elite White 97-98 (IL).
“Making it to the National Championships is the goal. That’s our goal as a team, and also for our club,” said Tampa Bay United SC Technical Director Adrian Bush. “I think for any youth team in the entire country, the ultimate goal is to win the US Youth Soccer National Championship. We played the National Champs from last year, MSC Coyotes, in a very tough game and I think it was that game where our girls realized it is a very fine line. They’re a fantastic team and hopefully we can put ourselves in position to meet them again.
“We still have important games coming up, but we’re just looking at one game at a time and focusing on the game that’s in front of us. I was very pleased with how the players performed. It’s a very tough group, both of the divisions are extremely competitive, so there’s no time to take your foot of the gas. Every game is an extremely important game with a lot at stake.
“National League has been all that it was advertised to be. Every game is very competitive, all the coaches do a very good job, and I think that the collegiate exposure for freshman, most of our girls are freshman in high school, is very, very good. But we knew coming into it that every game is between the nation’s best teams. The National League is very well run. I think it’s extremely professional in every aspect and the competition is fantastic and for our players. It’s an amazing experience.”
Two teams will have the opportunity to clinch a top-two spot tomorrow after victories today. Under-17 defending National Champion BRYC 95 Elite (VA) busted open a 2-0 game at halftime versus Grand Rapids Crew Jrs Gold (MI) to win 6-0 and move to 5-0-0. A draw tomorrow will send BRYC back to the National Championships, and a victory will assure them of their first National League title in three years of competition.
Under-18 Team Chicago Academy Botafogo (IL), the defending Region II Champion, took down Space City FC 95 Premier (S-TX), 2-0, to move to 5-0-0. Team Chicago has a showdown with Blast FC (OH-S) tomorrow to clinch their return to Nationals. Today, Blast knocked defending National Champs VSA Heat Blue (VA) from the ranks of the unbeaten by a 2-1 score to put themselves in the thick of the hunt.
National League Girls action continues Tuesday, Jan. 1, at ESPN's Wide World of Sports with games at 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. ET. Complete standings, scores and schedules, including goal scorers and match information, can be found at the results page here
. Click on the score of each game for more information.