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2013-2014 US Youth Soccer National League Girls wrap up play in Orlando, Fla.

January 2, 2014 04:55 PM
 

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2013-2014 US Youth Soccer National League Girls wrap up play in Orlando, Fla.

 
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ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 2, 2014) — The US Youth Soccer National League Girls teams competing this week wrapped up their 2013-2014 seasons on Thursday at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla., playing alongside the Disney Soccer Showcase. The 48 remaining girls teams will finish their seasons and solidify the league standings March 21-23 in Las Vegas, Nev.
 
The top two finishers per division earn a spot at the 2014 US Youth Soccer National Championships, the oldest and most prestigious National Championship in the country, as the four National League representatives will join the four Regional Champions in the Under-14 through Under-18 age groups.
 
Just three teams were able to secure their spot among the top two in the standings this week — five less than at this point a season ago.
 
 
Under-16
Blue Champion: Eclipse Elite Black 97-98 (IL)
 
Under-18
Red: BRYC 95 Elite (VA)
 
For the second consecutive season, BRYC 95 Elite (VA) is heading to the National Championships after clinching a spot through the National League. The 2012 National Champions have gone 6-0-1 in each of the last two National League seasons — a vast improvement since the Virginia side’s first two league campaigns, when it had just one victory in two years. BRYC coach Larry Best said playing in the National League for the past four years has helped prepare his players for the next level.
 
"Our system is about development. We started that when we started the team at U-9. We told the kids and the parents, ‘We’re going to develop these kids to play at the next level.’ And that takes a lot of determination and effort," Best said. "Playing in the National League, you play competitive matches that mean something. That’s the beauty of this league — four years of matches that really mean something against great competition."
 
Futura Academy Forte (MO) was the only other team to clinch a top-two finish on Thursday and solidify its spot at Nationals. The Missouri side went undefeated in the Under-15 Blue Division, as it earned four wins and three ties.
 
In the Under-16 Blue Division, Tophat 16 Gold (GA) and MRM Coyotes (MD) each had a chance to clinch a second-place finish with a win in their key matchup on the final day of play in Orlando. However, the two sides played to a scoreless tie, which helps the Coyotes, who had a two-point advantage in the group standings entering play on Thursday. Should Legends FC 97 (CA-S) drop any points in Las Vegas, the Coyotes would get the berth to the National Championships.
 
"For the most part, we’re very happy with the way we played today," MRM Coyotes coach Alex Gould said. "We created a lot of scoring chances, but their keeper made some good saves and they made some good defensive plays, and we couldn’t finish the deal. Now, we have to wait.
 
"The fact that the National League is so great, we’re kind of counting on that for March. It’s really difficult to win three straight games, and that’s what Legends is going to have to do in March. If they can do that, hats off to them."
 
There are still nine National League division titles and 17 berths to the National Championships that will be decided when National League Girls play wraps up March 21-23 in Las Vegas.
 
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.
 
Some highlights from Thursday’s matches…
 
Under-15 Girls
 
Libertyville FC 1974 (IL) had a chance to move to the top of the Under-15 Red Division with a win against Alliance Academy 99 Black (MI) on the final day of play in Orlando. Alliance Academy got on the scoreboard first when Bailey Korhorn scored in the 42nd minute, but Emily Blackwell responded for Libertyville just two minutes later to tie score at 1-1. The game remained level until Sadie Misiewicz scored a game-winner in 77th minute to help Alliance get the win and end Libertyville’s chances at a top-two finish in the group.
 
Futura Academy Forte (MO) punched its ticket to the National Championships thanks to a 3-0 win Thursday against NSA Rockets (IL). Nina Stine gave the Missouri side the lead with a 24th-minute strike before Kayla Deaver extended the advantage to 2-0 with a goal shortly after halftime. Stine added a second goal with a strike to the far post in the 69th minute, as Futura clinched at least a second-place finish in the group.
 
Under-16 Girls
 
In the Under-16 Red Division, first-place Tampa Bay United 97 Premier (FL) had a chance to extend its lead in the standings but fell, 1-0, to Solar Chelsea Elite 98 (N-TX). It didn’t take long for Claire Gantzer to give Solar the lead, as she beat the keeper in the seventh minute to put her side on top. The Texas squad fought off all Tampa Bay scoring chances and held on for the 1-0 shutout victory. Tampa Bay still has a chance at earning a berth to Nationals, but it will need some help during the games in Las Vegas.
 
The matchup with the most on the line Thursday came in the Under-16 Blue Division, as Tophat 16 Gold (GA) and MRM Coyotes (MD) each had a chance to clinch a second-place finish with a win. The Coyotes controlled the game early, as they pressured the Tophat goal but couldn’t break through. The game went back and forth for much of the 80 minutes, with each side pushing for the crucial first goal. The Coyotes had a couple of close calls in the final minutes, but the Tophat goalkeeper did well to keep the Maryland side in check. The game ended in a scoreless draw, which leaves the Coyotes in position to earn a second-place finish should Legends FC 97 (CA-S) drop any points in Las Vegas.
 
Under-17 Girls
 
Thursday’s most exciting contest came in a back-and-forth Under-17 Red Division matchup between 97 Louisiana Fire Navy (LA) and SCU/MP 96 Elite (SC). The game featured three goals in the opening 10 minutes, with Alexandra Thomas and Noelle Higginson scoring for the Fire, while Miranda Weslake added a tally for South Carolina. Weslake added three more goals to give South Carolina a 4-2 advantage by the 73rd minute. However, Kassandra Ortega and Thomas each found the back of the net for the Fire in the final 15 minutes, and the game ended in a 4-4 tie.
 
NSA Jaguars (IL) held on for a 2-1 win over Futura FC 96/97 Academy Premier (MO) to gain a much-needed three points in the Under-17 Blue Division. In the 35th minute, Alyssa Kovatchis chipped a pass to Lexi Pelafas, who cut inside a defender and finished inside the far post to give NSA a 1-0 lead. Erin Fitzgerald made it 2-0 when she found the back of the net just after halftime. Marissa Adams pulled Futura within a goal by scoring in the 83rd minute, but NSA held on for the key victory. With half of the division still to play its final three games in Las Vegas, the top two teams won’t be determined until league play concludes in March.
 
Under-18 Girls
 
PWSI Courage 95 Gold (VA) finished 2-0-1 in Orlando after defeating AHFC 96 (S-TX), 4-1, on Thursday. Marissa Valenti opened the scoring for PWSI in the fifth minute, but Dayna Doize responded just four minutes later for AHFC. PWSI regained the lead in the 23rd minute when Colleen Gawkins found the back of the net. Jennifer Knoebel and Jessica Leonard each added second-half goals for the Virginia side, as it came away with the 4-1 victory.
 
BRYC 95 Elite (VA) is heading back to the National Championships after it clinched a top-two finish with a 3-1 victory over Sporting BV Supersport (KS). The Virginia side went in front on a Kaleigh Riehl goal in the 15th minute, but Sporting tied the game in the 27th minute thanks to an Anna Romano tally. BRYC wasted little time in regaining the lead, as Katherine Bukovsky beat the keeper just two minutes later to give the 2012 National Champions a 2-1 halftime lead. BRYC controlled possession for the duration of the second half and added an insurance goal when Carlyn Baldwin flicked a header over the goalkeeper to cap the 3-1 win.
 
National League Girls action continues March 21-23, 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.
 
Keep up with the National League all season:
National League Home: USYouthSoccer.org/National_League
Schedule and results: http://tournaments.usyouthsoccer.org/events/2013-2014-National-League/ Twitter: @nationalleague
Facebook: Facebook.com/usyouthsoccer
Instagram: Instagram.com/usyouthsoccer
YouTube: YouTube.com/usyouth
 

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