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2012-2013 National League Vegas Preview: U-16 Girls

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There is plenty to play for in the Under-16 Girls on the final weekend of 2012-2013 National League play.  Just one team, Match Fit Academy Colchesters (NJ), has wrapped up an automatic spot to Nationals, but were unable to clinch the Red Division title in Orlando.
In the Blue Division, DMCV Sharks (CA-S) and defending National League Champ and National Finalist, Kings Hammer Academy (OH-S), sit in the first and second spots respectively despite having three games left to play in Vegas.  However, Pride Predators (CO) and FC Alliance (TN) are both still in the running for a top-two spot with the right results.
DMCV carry a perfect record into Las Vegas and need just a win and a draw to guarantee a trip to the National Championships, but an opening game against Kings Hammer will set the tone for how this division shakes out.  DMCV’s Maegan Gibson is second in scoring for the U-16 age group, and she is joined by Hailey Harbison and keeper Melissa Lowder, both called in to recent youth U.S. National Team camps.
Last season, Kings Hammer became just the second girls team to complete a perfect 7-0-0 record.  Kings perfect National League run came to an end in N.C., where they drew with FFC Academy (MO), but Kings still have yet to lose a National League game.  Youth U.S. National Team pool member Katie Murray, Lauren Nemeroff and Bailey Feist will lead Kings in their run at a second straight National League title in hopes of avenging their loss to Legends FC (CA-S) in the National Championship final last summer.
Match Fit Colchesters are headed back to the National Championships after making the trip in 2011 as Region I Champions, as they secured a top-two finish with a dramatic come from behind victory in their final game in Orlando.  With both Match Fit and VSA Heat (VA) playing for a guaranteed place in the top-two in their final match, Colchesters needed a win and scored two goals in the last two minutes of the game to shock VSA 3-2.  Rival Legends FC is the only team that can steal the Red Division title, but Colchesters are riding a wave of momentum into the National Championships.  Midfielder Alana Cook recently captained the Under-17 U.S. National Team in a pair of games before announcing a commitment to play for Stanford University.  Teammates Julia Ashley (North Carolina) and Kayla Jennings (Maryland) also announced their college plans.  Maxine Blackwood leads the team with five goals this season and sits in a tie for second in the scoring charts.
With a win and a draw, defending National League and National Champion Legends FC will overtake NSA Jaguars (IL) for second place in the division, but will have to win all three games to repeat as National League champs.  Midfielder Peyton Perea, who scored the game winning goal in the National Championship final against Kings and one of several U-16 National League girls in recent National Team camps, started for the U.S. Under-17 team alongside Cook and PSC Baltimore’s Bridgette Andrzejeski in recent matches versus Germany.  NSA will be big fans of Carlsbad Elite (CA-S), Louisiana Fire (LA) and Javanon (KY) during Las Vegas, hoping they can limit Legends to less than four points to stay in the second spot.
Other news…
  • Youth U.S. National Team Call-ups:

Bridgette Andrzejeski – PSC Baltimore
Alana Cook – Match Fit Academy Colchesters
Peyton Perera – Legends FC
Hailey Harbison – DMCV Sharks
Melissa Lowder – DMCV Sharks
  • 2012 US Youth Soccer ODP Girls Thanksgiving Interregional  All-Stars:

Katie Murray – Kings Hammer
Melissa Lowder – DMCV Sharks
Hailey Harbison – DMCV Sharks
  • DMCV Sharks’ Hailey Harbison and Shelby Lee were part of the Cal South ODP ’96 team that won the US Youth Soccer ODP National Championships this month.  Match Fit Academy Colchesters’ Lauren Johnson, Haha Kerner and Carly Leipzig were members of the New Jersey ODP team that claimed a bronze medal.
  • DMCV Sharks’ Meagan Gibson and Melissa Lowder won the US Youth Soccer ODP National Championship with the Cal South ’97 squad.