Girls wrap up opening week of 2013-2014 US Youth Soccer National League play in Wilson, N.C.
WILSON, N.C. (Dec. 8, 2013)
— After four days of play, the US Youth Soccer National League
Under-14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 Girls have solidified their spots in the standings until nearly 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 2014 US Youth Soccer National Championships in Germantown, Md., July 21-27.
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. More than 400 collegiate coaches attended the National League matches in North Carolina to scout some of the top talent in the country. Player evaluation is enhanced by the competitive level and importance of each game, as teams compete for a berth in the National Championships.
None of the defending National League title holders escaped the opening weekend unscathed, and just two of the five defending National Champions sit atop their divisions after four games in North Carolina. Demonstrating the competitive level of the league, just eight of the 80 teams finished the opening weekend with a perfect record.
After starting its season with a tie and a loss, Tampa Bay United 97 Premier (FL) strung together two wins against teams with previously unblemished records. On Saturday, Tampa Bay defeated Carlsbad Elite 97/98 (CA-S), 1-0, and the Florida side followed that up with a 3-1 comeback win over unbeaten Albion USA 97-98 (CA-S).
Tampa Bay head coach Adrian Bush said it’s great for his team to have the opportunity to show it strength against top competition in each and every National League game.
"That’s what it’s all about. I think that’s the beauty of the league. You earn your spot. There are no easy games in this league," Bush said. "To play four games in four days and then you come back and play three games in three days against teams like this; this is probably the best competition that we’ve seen.
"We were in the league last year, and I think the league has even grown from last year. Every one of these teams are fantastic. They’re well-coached, and you’ve got to give it to these kids because they’re all very good players."
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 Sunday's matches…
Tophat 18 Gold (GA) and Exiles Black (CA-S) each conceded just two goals in their first four games to leave North Carolina in a tie atop the Under-14 Blue Division. Defending National Champions Legends FC 99 (CA-S) are not far behind, as they went 3-1-0 and still have games against both Tophat and Exiles.
The teams in the Under-14 Red Division are a little more spread out, with Carlsbad Elite 99 (CA-S) leading the group after going 4-0-0. Meanwhile, a draw is the only blemish for Ponte Vedra SC JFC Storm 99/00 (FL), as it sits just two points behind Carlsbad in the standings.
After starting its season with three wins, BRYC 98 Elite (VA) ran into defending National Champion Eastside FC 98 Red (WA) on Sunday. Laura Roberts gave Eastside a 12th-minute lead with a left-footed strike from 25 yards out that flew inside the far post. The Washington side pushed its advantage to 2-0 in the 20th minute when a corner kick resulted in a loose ball in the box that Makaylie Moore fired into the net. The Eastside defense preserved the lead for the final hour of play, as it won the match, 2-0. The two sides are now tied for second in the Under-15 Blue Division — one point behind Futura Academy Forte (MO).
Futura Academy used a hard-fought 1-0 win over Beadling Bulldogs (PA-W) on Sunday to jump to the top of the Blue Division standings. Tess Rellihan scored the game’s lone goal when she beat the keeper in the 21st minute. The Futura defense, which allowed just two goals in four games, made sure Rellihan’s goal held up as it registered a shutout. With the three points for the win, the Missouri side jumped to the top of the Blue Division standings, and the group winner likely won’t be decided until the season’s final games in Las Vegas.
In the Under-15 Red Division, 2013 National finalist YMS Premier Xplosion 98 (E-PA) has a two-point lead over Tophat 17 Gold (GA) and Libertyville FC 1974 (IL). With YMS and Tophat playing on the season’s final day, the division title may not be decided until late in March.
After falling behind early in the second half, Tampa Bay United 97 Premier (FL) stormed back to secure a key 3-1 win over previously unbeaten Albion USA 97-98 (CA-S). Courtney Strode put Albion up 1-0 in the 44th minute when she found the back of the net on a rebound opportunity, but Tampa Bay responded just three minutes later with a similar goal. Julia Lester made a nice run into the box and forced the Albion keeper to make a fine diving save. However, Lindsey Eaton followed up the initial shot and tapped in the rebound to tie the game. Eaton put Tampa Bay ahead shortly after when she slid a right-footed shot into the left corner of the goal. Lester added an insurance goal when she cut inside a defender and put a well-placed shot into the far corner. The win helped Tampa Bay join Albion as one of five teams with at least seven points in the Under-16 Red Division.
MRM Coyotes (MD) are in a good position to earn a qualifying spot for the National Championships after finishing its week in North Carolina with a 3-0 win over PDA Spurs (NJ). Jade Ruiters put the Coyotes in front in the 23rd minute, and a Deena DeSilva corner kick bounced off a PDA player and into the goal three minutes later to push the lead to 2-0. PDA hung tough as it tried to mount a comeback, but Juliana Comer scored a 57th-minute goal to cap a 3-0 win for the Maryland side. With Eclipse Elite Black 97-98 (IL) sitting in first with 12 points, the Coyotes’ win sets up a pivotal Under-16 Blue Division matchup between the two sides on the first day of play in Orlando.
Carlsbad Elite (CA-S) held off 97 Louisiana Fire Navy (LA) to earn its fourth win of the week and stay at the top of a crowded Under-17 Red Division. The California side took the lead in the 15th minute when Nola Prickett found the back of the net. Louisiana threatened to equalize, but it was Carlsbad’s Makenna Webb who scored the game’s next goal in the 59th minute. Eleanor Pratt pulled the Fire within one when she scored in the 84th minute, but Louisiana couldn’t get a tying goal as it fell to Carlsbad, 2-1.
The Under-17 Blue Division title race is also tight after the opening week in North Carolina, with three teams tied at the top of the standings with nine points. DMCV Sharks Elite (CA-S), NSA Jaguars (IL) and Legends FC 96 (CA-S) each have 3-0-1 records and are poised for an exciting competition for the division title.
Legends FC 96 (CA-S) claimed its third win of the week to stay in the thick of the race for the Under-18 Red Division title. Amanda Ball and Samantha Koemans each scored within the opening 12 minutes Sunday to spot Legends a 2-0 lead against Weston FC Premier Black (FL). Destinee Adams added a third goal just before half, as Legends went to the break with firm control on the match. Weston came close to getting back in the game, but a shot that squeezed past the keeper was cleared off the line by a Legends defender. The California squad followed the Weston near-goal with three consecutive strikes by Ball, Lori Sandoval and Koemans to help post a 6-0 win.
Defending National Champion Cleveland United White (OH-N) dropped its first points of the week in a 2-2 tie Sunday against Academy United 95/96 (IL). Jenna Kentgen opened the scoring in the 31st minute to give Academy a 1-0 advantage. Cleveland managed to tie the game before halftime when Alissa Lisi beat the keeper in the 40th minute, and the defending national champions took the lead in the 72nd minute on a Sydney Elinsky goal. Academy wasted little time in erasing its deficit, as Mackenzie Fuller responded in the 75th minute with a game-tying goal. Neither side managed to score a game-winner in the final 15 minutes, and the matched finished in a 2-2 draw. Cleveland’s final league game in March against first-place Beach FC Ingrassia (CA-S) could prove to be the deciding factor in the Under-18 Blue Division title race.
National League Girls action continues when 32 of the teams meet Dec. 31-Jan. 2 in Orlando, Fla., alongside the Disney Soccer Showcase, while the remaining 48 squads play March 21-23 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.