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ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 1, 2013)
– The US Youth Soccer National League
Under-15, Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 Girls celebrated the new year by showcasing their talents in meaningful and competitive matches today in front of hundreds of college scouts at ESPN's Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla., in conjunction with the Disney Soccer Showcase.
Each age group is represented by four of the eight teams per division this weekend, and they will finalize league standings until the remaining four teams per division compete in Las Vegas, Nev., March 15-17. With one day of play still remaining in Orlando, four teams have clinched a top-two finish in their division, earning a spot in the 2013 US Youth Soccer National Championships
Today, U-15 Eclipse Elite USYSA Black 97-98 (IL) defeated Herndon Freedom 97 (VA) 4-0 to solidify at least a second place finish in the Red Division. Eclipse got goals from Foster Ignoffo, Abby Dein and two from Zoe Redei. In October, both Dein and Redei were invited into U-14 and U-15 U.S. National Team camps, respectively. Eclipse can’t secure the division title this week, but can put the heat on Carlsbad Elite 97/98 (CA-S), who hold the upper hand in the division heading into Las Vegas.
The Under-18 Red Division title will be decided tomorrow in a showdown between defending National Champion VSA Heat Blue (VA) and Region II Champion Team Chicago Academy Botafogo (IL), both of which have secured a return trip to Nationals. Team Chicago took down Blast FC (OH-S) on a hatrick from Kentucky commit and youth National Team pool member Zoe Swift to combat a goal from Blast’s Ashlynn Jones (Memphis commit). Swift took over the scoring lead with seven goals on the season. VSA Heat grabbed a 1-0 victory over SCFC 95 (S-TX) with a goal from Christina Corbin (Longwood commit) to book their return trip.
Under-17 defending National Champion BRYC 95 Elite (VA) locked up a return to Nationals yesterday and claimed the Red Division title today with a 3-1 win over Sporting BV Supersport (MO). Virginia commit Shea Newman opened the scoring and Wake Forest commit Kahla Seymour grabbed a double to lead BRYC to the win as Eden Opie netted for Supersport.
BRYC’s ascension to the nation’s number one team has been a methodical quest. In their first two years in the National League, BRYC finished 7th and 8th in their division and won their first State Championship last season before becoming Region I Champs. Now they have captured a National League and National Championship. But the team started with a goal, and a plan, and stuck together with the bigger picture in mind.
“We’ve been building to this. Coming off a great year last year, the kids are certainly a lot more confident now. When you win State Cup, Region I Premier League, Regionals and Nationals, winning National League was one of the goals for them, we’d never won National League,” said BRYC Head Coach Larry Best. “Those were our two goals, we wanted to secure our spot in National League (for next season) and get back to Nationals.
“We know what else goes on out there and we said; ‘Look, let’s stick to our plan. You guys are all going to be fine on the college track, we will make sure we have competitive games, you only need to worry about your objectives for your development.’ That’s the biggest thing when college coaches talk about our team over the last three years. Every time they see a kid, that kid is improving. A lot of people said we needed to do other things, that we’re not going to get recruited if we don’t go play somewhere else.”
Not only are BRYC’s players finding success, they’re headed to some of the top colleges in the country with players already committed to programs
such as Tennessee, Virginia, Wake Forest and William and Mary.
“This is a group of like-minded kids. Kids who absolutely believe in development and looking at their college track, they’re all like-minded in that way in that they want to be the best they can be. These are kids that don’t just want to play college soccer, they want to go in as freshmen and start at whatever school they’re going to. So, these couple years are important to their college track. When you get a group like that, and ours is kind of an academy format, it allows us to train four to five days a week with kids who are really serious about their game.
“The first thing the college coaches look at is what environment the players are in. If they’re learning, getting better and getting competitive games, that’s what the college coaches care about. The coaches look at us and say; ‘Okay, this is a good environment, I’m not worried about this kid.’ And we’re not done with all of our kids, you’re going to see some pretty big schools signing our kids.
“The most important thing is your coach, your teammates and your environment. If you can build that and make sure they’re taking care of the academic side, all of our kids are top students, that’s what is important. There are so many ways to do those things, it doesn’t have to be just one way.”
BRYC’s focus on development has paid off with opportunities for players and the National Championship, and has fueled their desire.
“Once you get a taste of it, when you get a taste of success, you want more success. I asked them what they wanted to accomplish this year and of course we want to get back to Nationals, but they looked at some shorter term goals and said; ‘We want to win the National League.’ And that’s part of their development. But we want to do it with class, technique and tactics, and show people we can play this game the right way. And that’s what we feel we do, we feel we put a good product on the field.”
National League teams are club soccer teams with an individual proven track record of success in US Youth Soccer regional and national competitions, and are among the nation's best. Games are being played in conjunction with the Disney Soccer Showcase, creating another significant opportunity for the nations collegiate and National Team coaches to see National League players in an environment of meaningful play, citing the competitive level of each game as every team has to earn their spot in the competition, regardless of club affiliation or location.
The league is an extension of the highly successful US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues (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. In addition to recruiting opportunities, National League teams compete for the league title and two slots per division to the annual US Youth Soccer National Championships
National League action continues Tuesday, Jan. 2, at ESPN's Wide World of Sports with games at 8:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. ET. 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.