2013-2014 US Youth Soccer National League Boys continue play in Orlando, Fla.
ORLANDO, Fla. (Dec. 28, 2013)
— The 2013-2014 US Youth Soccer National League
Boys showcased their talents in front of hundreds of college coaches in meaningful and competitive matches Saturday at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla., alongside the Disney Soccer Showcase. The boys teams competing in Orlando will wrap up their season on Sunday, while the rest of the league will compete in Las Vegas March 14-16 before standings are finalized.
Two more teams earned a berth in the 2014 US Youth Soccer National Championships
after securing a top-two finish on Saturday. Under-18 CUP Gold 95/96 (OH-S) became the second squad from its club to punch its ticket to Nationals after earning a 1-1 tie against PDA McGeough (NJ). A win on Sunday against Vestavia Steamers 96 Black (AL) would clinch the Under-18 Red Division title for CUP Gold 95/96.
The other Cincinnati United club to clinch a top two finish, Under-17 CUP Gold 96/97 (OH-S), ran into defending National Champion Smithtown Arsenal (E-NY) on Saturday with control of the Under-17 Red Division hanging in the balance. The stifling Smithtown defense, which entered the game having yet to allow a goal, pressured the CUP forwards all game long en route to a 3-1 victory for the New York side. The win ensured Smithtown of a top two finish and berth in the National Championships, and also puts it in a position to take the division title with a win on Sunday.
Smithtown head coach Tom Lips said he has a lot of respect for the Ohio side, and his team had to make a few tactical changes to disrupt the CUP attack and put pressure on the opposing players. Lips was pleased with the way his players executed the game plan, and he’s excited to be heading back to the National Championships for the third time in four years.
"It’s a very special feeling," Lips said. "We enjoy the National League for the simple fact that if you’re not on, you’re going to lose. That’s the best way to get yourself ready for Nationals."
On Sunday, a few more teams can join the three squads that have already solidified their place in the National Championships, including Under-15 Loudoun 98 Red (VA). The Virginia side has relied on stellar defensive play to move to the top of the standings, as it has yet to concede a goal in six games.
"It’s taken a lot of hard work. We defend from the first guy all the way to the last guy," said Mark Ryan, head coach of Loudoun. "Everyone is committed to the task and working hard. It takes some luck, but we’ve tried to do the right things, defend the right way and play the right way."
Ryan said his team has another tough game on Sunday to close out its National League season, and he knows they’ll have to work hard to have success. He said they are focused on getting a win and accomplishing their goal of a top two finish — a feat that would add to an already enjoyable experience in their first National League season.
"I’m happy with the way we’re playing, happy that we’re scoring goals and happy we’re not conceding. I’ve got a great group of guys, and every time they step on the field, they work hard," Ryan said. "The National League has been great. We love it. Being at Disney is fantastic for us. It’s special. Being able to play at this level at this facility against this level of competition is something great."
In addition to Loudoun, three Under-16 squads — Sunrise Elite 97\98 (FL), Dix Hills Elite (E-NY) and FC Dallas 98 Premier (TX-N) — could potentially secure a berth to Nationals on Sunday.
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 Germantown, Md.
The National 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 and opportunities for exposure at the national team, collegiate and professional levels.
National League action continues Sunday, Dec. 29, at ESPN Wide World of Sports with games at 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. 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.
Some highlights from Saturday's matches…
In the Under-15 Blue Division play, Loudoun 98 Red (VA) earned a hard-fought 1-0 win over Solar Chelsea Red 99 (N-TX) to put itself in prime position to finish first or second in the group. Solar had its share of quality chances, but it couldn’t break down Loudoun’s final line of defense. Stephen Foss scored the decisive goal in the 37th minute, as the Virginia side continued its strong defensive play to secure the victory.
Dix Hills Elite (E-NY) moved a step closer to clinching a top two finish in the Under-16 Red Division with a 1-0 win over FC Alliance 98 Black (TN) on Saturday. After a scoreless first half, Richie Mastrangelo broke the deadlock when he found the back of the net in the 63rd minute. That goal held up, as the New York side put itself in position to potentially win the division title on Sunday.
Manhattan SC PSG 96 (E-NY) needed four second-half goals in a come-from-behind 4-2 win over NASA 15 Elite (GA) in Under-17 Blue Division play. Goals by Myles Barber and Lysten Thomas gave NASA a 2-0 lead at halftime. However, PSG responded with goals from Sean Fitzgerald and Jack Harrison, along with two tallies by Ousmane Dia, to earn a much-needed victory. The win keeps PSG alive to possibly finish among the top two in the group, but it will need help during the season’s final games in Las Vegas.
In the marquee matchup of the Under-17 Red Division, defending National Champion Smithtown Arsenal (E-NY) came away with a 3-1 win over CUP Gold 96/97 (OH-S). The typically defense-minded New York side came out on the offensive, scoring three goals in the opening 20 minutes. Thomas Butzke netted the first two Smithtown tallies before Zach Pogrob added a third in the 17th minute. CUP managed to score the first goal of the season against the stout Smithtown defense when Brady Daulton fired in a first-time strike from 20 yards out late in the game, but it wasn’t enough as the New York side held on for the win.