2013-2014 US Youth Soccer National League Boys wrap up play in Orlando, Fla.
Six teams solidify berths to the National Championships
ORLANDO, Fla. (Dec. 29, 2013)
— The US Youth Soccer National League
Boys teams competing this weekend wrapped up their 2013-2014 seasons on Sunday at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla., playing alongside the Disney Soccer Showcase. The 48 remaining boys teams will finish their seasons and solidify the league standings March 14-16 in Las Vegas, Nev.
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.
Six teams were able to secure their spot among the top two in the standings this weekend.
After going a perfect 7-0-0 in the National League last season, Sunrise Elite 97\98 (FL) had some work to do in Orlando after getting just seven points in North Carolina. The Florida squad secured wins on the first two days of play at the Disney Soccer Showcase, and it needed a dramatic stoppage time goal on Sunday to earn its third win at the event. The 2-1 win over GSA 98 Premier (GA) in its final game of the National League season helped Sunrise clinch a top two finish in the Under-16 Blue Division and a third trip in three years to Nationals.
"I think this was the most exciting game we played the whole tournament. My players played with a lot of heart," Sunrise coach Jorge Alvarez said. "I just love the National League. I think between the National League and the academy league, the National League is more exciting because you can play different tactics and not be trapped by the academy league, where you have to play a certain style all of the time. I think it brings a lot more to the players."
Just three National League division titles were clinched in Orlando, as seven boys crowns will still be up for grabs when the remaining teams take the fields in March.
Defending National Champion Smithtown Arsenal (E-NY) clinched the Under-17 Red Division title, while CUP Gold 95/96 (OH-S) earned the Under-18 Red Division crown. That title moved Cincinnati United into a tie with GSA Phoenix (GA) and Dallas Texans (N-TX) for the most National League titles by one club (3).
En route to winning the Under-16 Red Division title, Dix Hills did not concede a single goal through seven games — becoming the first-ever National League team to do so. Under-15 Loudoun 98 Red (VA), which also punched a ticket to Nationals, accomplished the same feat later in the day on Sunday. Dix Hills head coach Domenico Casciato said his team has two talented goalkeepers that help direct a sound group of defenders — a unit that helped earn a well-deserved title.
"For us to win the National League today is a fantastic achievement because we’ve played against seven very, very good teams," Casciato said. "FC Dallas, who we played today, is a great team. It’s a fantastic achievement for the players, who also managed to go through National League without conceding a goal, which is something to be very proud of."
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.
Some highlights from Sunday’s matches…
After coming away with a 2-0 win on Sunday, 99 Lobos Rush Premier (TN) sits in a good position to potentially finish in the top two of the Under-15 Red Division. Cole Cannon opened the scoring for the Tennessee side Sunday against CESA 98 Premier (SC) when he found the back of the net in the 13th minute. Chandler Shirley added an insurance goal in the final seconds of the game, as Lobos earned its fifth win of the season. The top of the group standings won’t be solidified until the season’s final games in Las Vegas.
Loudoun 98 Red (VA) punched its ticket to the National Championships with a 1-0 win Sunday against Roadrunners Blue (MD). The Virginia side’s defense, which did not allow a goal all season, carried the team once again in its final game. Nathan Albrecht scored the decisive goal in the 16th minute, as Loudoun recorded another clean sheet in the tight victory. Loudoun joined Under-16 Dix Hills Elite as the only sides to concede no goals during a National League season.
Dix Hills Elite (E-NY) clinched the Under-16 Red Division title on Sunday with a 1-0 win over FC Dallas 98 Premier (N-TX). The New York side created all the offense it needed on a well-executed short corner in the 12th minute, as Joseph Destephano freed himself in the box and knocked home an open header to give his side the lead. FC Dallas had several chances, including a dangerous free kick before halftime, but the Dix Hills defense stood up to the task and recorded its seventh clean sheet of the season — becoming the first team to go through an entire National League campaign without conceding a goal.
In the Under-16 Blue Division, Sunrise Elite 97/98 (FL) needed a win against GSA 98 Premier (GA) to secure at least a second-place finish in the group. The Florida side went up 1-0 in the 61st minute when Frederick Gil squeezed a shot past the keeper to open the scoring. That lead held up until the final minute of regulation when GSA’s Jerren Nixon scored to tie the game and seemingly snatched a ticket to Nationals out of Sunrise’s hands. However, Sunrise responded with a dramatic stoppage time goal by Nikolas Gomez off of a corner kick to claim a 2-1 win and a top two finish in the group — earning a spot in the 2014 National Championships in Germantown, Md.
Defending National Champion Smithtown Arsenal (E-NY) won the Under-17 Boys Red Division title thanks to a 2-1 win Sunday against Concorde Fire Elite (GA). It took more than an hour of play before Smithtown opened the scoring with a 74th-minute goal by Beau Hornberger. In the 86th minute, Harrison Weilbacher added a second goal for Smithtown that would prove to be pivotal after Darwin Lom scored for Concorde to pull the Georgia side within one. Smithtown made sure that was as close as the score would get, as it held on for the 2-1 win to clinch the division title.
A 2-0 win over in-state foe NASA 15 Elite (GA) on Sunday helped put GSA Phoenix 97 Premier (GA) in a good position to be among the top two teams in the Under-17 Blue Division when the season concludes in March. After a scoreless first half, Joseph Efford put GSA on top with a 61st-minute goal. Efford made sure his team came away with three points in the 90th minute when he made a nice run through the heart of the NASA defense and fired a shot around the keeper to cap his side’s 2-0 victory. GSA will likely have to wait until the final day of play in Las Vegas to see if its 14 points are enough to qualify for Nationals.
CUP Gold 95/96 (OH-S) secured the Under-18 Red Division title with a dominant win over Vestavia Steamers 96 Black (AL). Jack Clark hit a cross from Trevor Thompson into the net to give CUP the lead in the 23rd minute. Five minutes later, Clark created a chance by dribbling into the box, and teammate Josh McDaniel hit a loose ball inside the near post to double the lead. Henry Myers, Devon Jackson and Clark each added second-half goals to help CUP to the 5-0 victory and the division crown.
National League Boys action continues March 14-16, at the Players College Showcase in Las Vegas, Nev. 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.