2013-2014 US Youth Soccer National League Girls season kicks off in Wilson, N.C.
WILSON, N.C. (Dec. 5, 2013)
— The top teams in the country showcased their talent Thursday as several energetic matchups got the seventh season of US Youth Soccer National League
Girls play underway in Wilson, N.C. All 16 teams in each of the Under-14, Under-15, Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 Girls age groups began the 2013-2014 National League season at the Gillette Athletic Complex and Rocky Mount Sports Complex.
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.
Nearly 300 collegiate coaches lined the sidelines on Thursday, and close to 600 are expected to attend this week of National League play to scout some of the top teams and players in the country. The competitive level of each game adds to player evaluation, as every team has to earn its spot in the competition, regardless of location or club affiliation.
The first day of National League girls competition featured coaches from many Top 25 women’s college soccer programs, including staff from three teams playing in this weekend’s 2013 NCAA Division I Women’s College Cup — Virginia, Florida State and UCLA.
"For the players to be seen by this many coaches, it’s the reason that we do what we do — to help them and get them in front of these coaches," said Bonnie Young, head coach of Under-17 NSA Jaguars (IL). "The National League provides that. This event provides it, and I think it’s a good balance. The coaches are great about coming out to the games."
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 Thursday's matches…
In the Under-14 Blue Division, defending National Champions Legends FC 99 (CA-S) opened up their first National League season with a 3-1 win. The victory marked the only Blue Division match to be decided by more than one goal. In the Red Division, Solar Chelsea Elite 00 (TX-N), Carlsbad Elite 99 (CA-S) and Ponte Vedra SC JFC STORM 99/00 (FL) each came away with wins to earn three points in the standings.
Region III Champion Tophat 17 Gold (GA) met a resilient Libertyville FC 1974 (IL) team in its opening match of National League Under-15 Girls play. In the 33rd minute, Chloe Maize received a pass after making a diagonal run into the box and slid a shot inside the right post to give Tophat the lead. The Georgia side doubled its advantage two minutes later when Kia Jacobs lifted her shot past the keeper, but Libertyville didn’t go quietly. The Illinois squad pulled within a goal when Alissa Ramsden scored in the 52nd minute, and Lindsey Hardiman tied the game late in the match when she found the back of the net — helping Libertyville earn a 2-2 draw with Tophat.
YMS Premier Xplosion 98 (E-PA), a 2013 US Youth Soccer National Championship finalist, got off to a strong start in its first National League season with a 4-1 win over PWSI Courage 98 Red (VA). Caroline Foley opened the scoring for YMS when she put in a rebound chance in the 24th minute. PWSI made it tough on the Pennsylvania side, but YMS doubled its lead early in the second half thanks to a Brie Pavol goal. Shortly after, Margaret Daeche and Abby Johnson each added goals to extend the YMS lead. Michaella Van Maanen found the back of the net in the 79th minute for PWSI, but it wasn’t enough as YMS came away with the 4-1 victory.
Defending National Champions Eclipse Elite Black 97-98 (IL) had to overcome a halftime deficit to defeat a tough Tennessee SC 16 (TN) squad, 3-1, in Under-16 Girls play. Tennessee SC, the defending Region III Champions, took the lead when Olivia Winnett found the back of the net in the 25th minute. Eclipse responded with an early surge in the second half, which saw it take the lead thanks to goals by Channing Foster and Marissa Bosco. The Illinois side got a late insurance goal from Foster Ignoffo, as it came away with a 3-1 win.
Two early goals helped propel Region I Champion Syracuse Development Academy 97/98 (NY-W) to an opening-day win over Michigan Jaguars 98 Green (MI). Jade Gentile opened the scoring in the fourth minute, and Madison Belvito added a goal 10 minutes later to give Syracuse a 2-0 lead. That score remained the same until the 74th minute, when Taylor Bennett beat the keeper to cap the scoring in Syracuse’s 3-0 win.
In a tightly-fought Under-17 Girls match, NSA Jaguars (IL) managed to come away with a 2-1 win over NEFC Elite (MA). NSA, the defending Region II Champions, took the lead in the 13th minute behind a Lexi Pelafas goal. The Illinois side extended its advantage just before halftime when Alyssa Kovatchis found the back of the net. Despite the two-goal deficit, NEFC continued to fight and put pressure on the NSA goal. The work paid off in the 65th minute, when Stephanie Lund scored on a header off of a well-placed corner kick to pull her side within a goal. However, the Jaguars held off the remaining NEFC attacks to come away with the 2-1 win.
After going back and forth for much of the game, National Championship finalists Kings Hammer Academy (OH-S) used a late outburst to pull away for a 5-1 win over Toms River FC Elite United 96/97 (NJ). The New Jersey side went up in the 38th minute with a goal by Carly Wilhelm, but Kings Hammer responded moments later with strikes from Kelly Polacek and Mia Schriebeis to take a 2-1 lead at halftime. In the 77th minute, Lauren Nemeroff slid a pass into the box, where Polacek used a first-touch shot to notch her second goal of the game. Payton Atkins added a goal from a 30-yard free kick, and Nemeroff capped the scoring when she hit a low shot past the keeper in the 90th minute.
The defenses were stout in a close matchup between Sporting BV Supersport (KS) and last year's National finalist, Match Fit Beat (NJ). Amanda Nardella was able to break through in the 18th minute to give the New Jersey side an important opening goal. Any remaining chances from both squads were thwarted by the opposing back line, and neither side could find the back of the net in the second half. Nardella’s early goal proved to be the game-winner, as Match Fit earned three points with the 1-0 shutout win.
Defending National Champions Cleveland United White (OH-N) started off their National League Under-18 Girls campaign with a dominant 5-0 win over AHFC 96 (TX-S). Kelly Novak kicked off the scoring with a 10th-minute goal, and teammate Jaycie Brown found the back of the net later in the first half to push the Cleveland lead to 2-0. Novak added two more goals midway through the second half, and Sydney Elinsky scored in the final minutes to help the Ohio side to a decisive 5-0 win.
National League action will continue Friday, Dec. 6, as the girls play their second game of the season. 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.