Day 1 of 4 complete
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Dec. 1, 2011)
– The top girls teams from across the country in the Under-15, Under-16 and Under-17 Girls age groups kicked off the 2011-2012 US Youth Soccer National League
season at Fowler Park in Atlanta today. The Under-18 Girls kickoff their season tomorrow as all ages will be in action.
Games are being played in conjunction with the Atlanta Final Four Showcase and the NCAA Women's College Cup, creating another significant opportunity for the nation's collegiate, professional and national team coaches to see National League players in an environment of meaningful play. Hundreds of coaches lined the fields on day one and almost 600 coaches
from collegiate programs across the country have registered to attend throughout the weekend.
"As a college coach, you always go to look at the greatest events and the most competitive events to find the best players that you can find, so definitely the National League is an opportunity to see that. You see really competitive games and you see players really challenged and tested, and you want to see them in that environment to know if they can play at the Division 1 level," said Tracy Leone, current Northeastern University Head Coach and former Olympic and World Champion coach with the U.S. Women's National Team program. "It's awesome to come to a National League event to see the players work so hard for placement in the league the following year and also a chance to compete for a National Championship. What you see is an urgency; the games mean something, there's something on the line, there's an elimination factor to it. So you see who responds to that challenge and it brings out the best in players for sure."
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. In addition to recruiting opportunities, National League teams compete for two slots per gender age group to the annual US Youth Soccer National Championships
2011 Region II finalist Kings Soccer Academy (OH-S) got off to a good start with a 3-0 victory over VSA Heat 96 Blue (VA). Maryellen Tully grabbed the lead for KSA with an 18th minute goal and Madison Baumgardner doubled the lead just a minute after the restart. Katie Murray added an insurance goal in the 66th give KSA three points to start the season.
Eclipse Select 96-97 (IL), last summer's Region II champion, and PSC Baltimore (MD), the Maryland state champ, collided on the first day of league play in a 0-0 defensive battle. Neither team could find the back of the net in 80 minutes of play, but the two showed they have the defenses to compete for a league title in 2011-2012.
2011 Region I semifinalist PWSI Courage 96 Red (VA) started off National League play by twice taking the lead against Ohio-North state champion Internationals 96 Red, but Internationals responded each time to earn a 2-2 draw. Allison Turner put PWSI in front just six minutes into the game, but Jenna Dorchock leveled for Internationals in the 21st. Caroline Kerns gave PWSI the lead again in the 59th only to have Rachel Baughman salvage a point for Internationals with a 69th minute equalizer.
Internationals 95 Red (OH-N) pulled out a dramatic last second goal over PWSI Courage 95 Gold (VA) to take three points on the first day with a 2-1 win. Alyssa Pejic's goal in the 31st minute put Internationals in front, but Siobhann O'Toole leveled for PWSI with eight minutes to play. However, Marissa Milazzo struck net in stoppage time to start Internationals off with a victory.
2010-2011 National League competitor West Florida Premier Arsenal Elite defeated newcomer Zionsville 96 Select I (IN) 2-0 in their opener. Danielle Gottwik put Arsenal Elite ahead two minutes after the halftime break and Jordyn Turner grabbed an insurance goal in the 68th to propel Arsenal to the victory.
Last season's league runner-up, Match Fit Chelsea Beat (NJ), opened the season with a tough 0-0 draw with BRYC 95 Elite (VA). Although a draw wasn't the result either team was looking for to start the season, neither lost much ground in the standings as three of the four games in the U-16 Girls Blue division ended in ties on the opening day.
Eclipse Select 94/95 (IL) turned in a solid performance in a 3-0 victory over Empire USA Academy (NY-W) to take the early lead in the Under-17 Girls Red standings. Abigayle Gearing set the tone with a 9th minute goal while Meghan Mannix and KC Morris each struck in the second half to ensure the win.
Under-17 Region II rivals CUP Crew Jrs. Gold 94/95 (OH-S) and Michigan FC 95 ground out a hard fought 0-0 tie to open league play. Despite the lack of goals, the two teams displayed some excellent soccer and drew one of the largest crowds of the day with college scouts lining each side of the field.