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National League Girls resume play Dec. 31 - Jan. 2 in Orlando, Fla.
WILSON, N.C. (Dec. 2, 2012) –
After four days of play, the US Youth Soccer National League
Under-15, 16, 17 and 18 Girls have solidified their spots in the standings until half the field meets again Dec. 31 - Jan. 2 in Orlando, Fla., where they will continue competing for a league title and a ticket to the 2013 US Youth Soccer National Championships in Overland Park, Kan., July 22-28.
The National League brings together some of the best teams in the country, all of which have had to earn their place in the league through success in US Youth Soccer regional and national competition. Over 300 collegiate coaches attended the National League matches at Wilson Gillette Soccer Complex to scout some of the top talent in the country, citing the competitive level of each team and importance of the games as teams compete for a berth in the National Championships.
None of the defending National League title holders escaped the opening weekend unscathed, and demonstrating the competitive level of the league, just four of the 64 teams finished the opening weekend with a perfect record; defending National Champions Under-18 VSA Heat Blue (VA) and Under-17 BRYC 95 Elite (VA), Region II Champion Under-18 Team Chicago Academy Botafogo (IL), and Cal-South State Champion Under-16 DMCV Sharks Elite (CA-S).
Of those four, DMCV Sharks is the only one that hasn’t yet reached the National Championships, and the team was focused on earning that spot through the National League after watching in-state archrival Legends FC capture National League and National Championships last year.
"It’d be huge to get to the National Championships," said DMCV Sharks Head Coach Felicia Kappes. "We haven’t won a National Championship, so that’s one of our goals out there. We had a team meeting when we got here and we discussed what our goals were going into National League and we want to reach the National Championships."
At 3-0 after the first three games, DMCV Sharks wanted to close out a strong weekend against PWSI Courage 96 Red (VA) to control their own destiny when their final three games come around in Las Vegas. Sharks still have to face the second and third place teams in the division, which includes last season’s National League division champ and National Championship finalists, Kings Hammer Academy (OH-S).
"Our goal was to try to finish off with four wins and get 12 points out of this weekend to hopefully be in the driver’s seat heading into Las Vegas. Today, we wanted to control our fatigue because four games in four days is difficult and I thought my girls did a great job of managing that," said Kappes. "I thought the team we played today was a great team, they probably possessed the ball the best of the four teams we’ve seen, and I thought my girls did a really great job of doing what they had to do to get a win out of the game."
DMCV Sharks are attracting interest from some of the top college programs in the country, as well as U.S. National Teams as Hailey Harbison was invited into the October Under-18 camp and Melissa Lowder was invited to the October Under-15 camp, along with five other National League players. Kappes feels National League competition will help her players continue to develop to reach the next level.
"I can’t tell you how happy I am with the whole experience in the National League," said Kappes. "From how professionally it was run, the fields have been fantastic, the staff has been amazing and incredibly organized, so I’ve been really, really pleased. One thing we loved about National League was playing this competition from across the country. Southern California is always very difficult, but we know there are a lot of great teams across the country so it’s nice for me as a coach to not know who we’re playing and just go in. To come in and play other teams that are top-notch, but not to know them and they don’t know us, was a great challenge and invigorating for my players. So I loved it.
"For the players to see different styles of play, different coaches and different scenarios all allows them to be better prepared for the next level. Most of my players, if not all, will play Division I college soccer. I coached college soccer for 10 years and they’re really establishing a foundation here. Playing these different teams from all over the country they see different adjustments that they have to make during the game that we’re not prepared for, and tactically for my girls to become students of the game is really important. This experience has really allowed for that to happen."
The top two finishers in each National League age group division (Blue and Red) will earn a ticket to the 2013 US Youth Soccer National Championships
, making each match meaningful and valuable to the team's fate as it could make or break their chance at competing for the National Championship.
National League teams earn their place in the league based on a proven track record of success in US Youth Soccer regional and national competitions and are among the nation's best. Competing for a league title and a spot in the US Youth Soccer National Championships, each and every game will play into who represents the National League this summer in Overland Park, Kan.
The league is an extension of the highly successful US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues (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 and opportunities for exposure at the national team, collegiate and professional levels.
Some highlights from today's matches…
Kings Hammer Academy Red (OH-S) grabbed their first win on the final day of play in the opening weekend, knocking off Herndon Firecats (VA) 5-3. Dayton commit Libby Leedom and George Washington commit Kate Elson led Kings with two goals apiece as both are now tied for the second most goals scored in the age group at three. Leedom started things off with strikes in the 20th and 31st minutes and Elson grabbed goals in the 39th and 66th. Cincinnati commit Erika LaRosa also scored for Kings in the 61st, while Herndon tried to keep pace with goals from Thyla Peterson in the 55th, Kyndall Finch in the 58th, and Danielle Hester in the 72nd.
Match Fit Chelsea Beat (NJ) are in good position to advance to the National Championships as they did two years ago after beating Oklahoma FC 96 3-1 and move into a tie for the Blue Division lead. Maryland commit Alexis DellaPietro recorded a hatrick and sits in second place among the top scorers. DellaPietro’s first goal came in the 13th minute for the early Match Fit lead, but Alexus Carroll leveled for Oklahoma in the 26th as the teams entered halftime at 1-1. DellaPietro broke the tie for good in the 70th minute and added her third in stoppage time for the Match Fit victory.
Cleveland United White (OH-N) knocked off previously unbeaten Academy United SC (IL) 4-0 to grab a share of the Blue Division lead. Kentucky commit Kelly Novak put Cleveland in front with two goals, in the 7th and 19th minutes, for four total and a share for third best in scoring. Maddie Kressevic made it a three goal lead at halftime with a goal in the 29th and Miami of Ohio commit Katherine Zalar finished things off in the 77th.
PWSI Courage 95 Gold (VA) scored a big win on the final day of play in Wilson, defeating Legends FC 95 (CA-S) 5-1 to move to third in the Blue Division and within one point of the leaders. Liberty commit Jennifer Knoebel came uncorked, scoring all five goals for PWSI. Knoebel opened the scoring in the 12th minute, but Legends responded immediately a minute later from Rachael Figg. Knoebel scored her second five minutes before the break for the PWSI lead, and then added goals in the 62nd, 67th and another in stoppage time to close out the game and put her atop the scoring charts.
Region IV power DMCV Sharks Elite (CA-S) put in a strong showing in their first year in the league, posting the only perfect record in the Under-16 Girls after a 3-0 win over PWSI Courage 96 Red (VA). Shelby Lee gave Sharks the lead just six minutes in and Maegan Gibson scored her fifth goal of the week 10 minutes after the break, while Julianne M De Armas finished the scoring in the 73rd. Sharks sit alone atop the Blue Division and Gibson is second in the scoring charts after the first event.
Pride Predators 98 (CO) and Liverpool 98 Elite (N-TX) played to a 1-1 tie as both teams were looking for a win to boost their standing in the Blue Division heading into the next event. Liverpool took the lead seven minutes into the second half, but Pride countered with an equalizer a minute later from DeAnna Boains in the stalemate.
Both Ponte Vedra Storm (FL) and Tennessee SC 16 had a chance to solidify their place in the upper half of the Red Division, but neither team could break through in a 0-0 defensive showdown. Ponte Vedra still sits in third place, two points behind the leaders, while Tennessee is one spot behind and five points from the top.
National League Girls action continues when half of the field meets Dec. 31 - Jan. 2 in Orlando, Fla. alongside the Disney Soccer Showcase, and the other half March 15-17 in Las Vegas, Nev., alongside the Players College Showcase. 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.