Eight teams solidify berths to National Championships
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ORLANDO, Fla. (Dec. 29, 2012)
– The US Youth Soccer National League
Boys teams competing this weekend wrapped up their seasons today at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla. The other half of the boys divisions will finish their season and solidify the league standings March 15-17 in Las Vegas, Nev.
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, the top two finishers from each division (Blue and Red) will earn a ticket to the 2013 US Youth Soccer National Championships
, making each match valuable to the team's fate as it could make or break their chance at competing for the National Championship.
Eight teams were able to secure their spot among the top two in the standings this weekend.
2013 US Youth Soccer National Championship Qualifiers
Lehigh Valley United 95 (E-PA) finished fourth and third in their division respectively the past two seasons and were Region I champions in 2010 and 2012. In their Under-17 season, Lehigh has clinched a second place finish in their division and can plan for Overland Park, Kan., for their third trip to the National Championships in four years. As a club, Lehigh Valley United have placed several teams in the National League over the years, and Director of Coaching Greg Ramos described why the league is important to his teams.
“It’s really great to play at this caliber. First and foremost, the professionalism of the National League; taking care of players, making them feel special, showing them what it feels like to be really professional and the setup and organization. It’s really an atmosphere and an environment that’s really special. Then you come in and have the quality of the matches that you get, and it’s just the best thing that we’re apart of each year.”
Going back to the National Championships for the second consecutive year, and third time in four years, LVU 95 hopes to break through to the final after a disappointing ending last summer.
“Last year, we didn’t make the National final. All we needed to do was win our final game and we were up 2-0 at halftime, only to have the other team draw 2-2. It stung. To be so close to the final and not get there was difficult for us. So, there’s a lot of motivation for us to get back, and knowing that we are going back and the amount of hard work and preparation we have to put in over the next few months makes me feel like we have a really good chance. I feel like we’re ready for the challenge.”
With half the teams still set to finish their season in March, there have already been some notable and record performances
With a 1-0 victory on the final day, U-15 Sunrise Elite 97/98 (FL) became just the third boys team in six seasons of National League play to complete a perfect 7-0-0 record. In doing so, Sunrise scored 21 goals, the second best output by a team, and conceded just three, tied for the third best mark in league history. The defending Region III and Dallas Cup champions have been driven to return to the National Championships, where they fell in a penalty shootout in the final after winning all three preliminary games last summer.
Under-17 OBGC Rangers litter the record books in scoring, and they matched their league-best output set last year again this season, scoring 22 times, or 3.14 goals per game. They also hold the third best mark, set in 2010-11, with 19. The only player to feature twice on the all-time, single-season goal scoring charts is forward Jeremy Ebobisse, who will now be on that list a third time with his seven goals this season. Ebobisse has a chance to finish as the age groups leading scorer for a third season in a row, and has scored 22 goals in 21 National League games over three years.
Becoming just the third team to ever win more than one National League title, U-18 Concorde Fire Elite (GA) also set a mark as a club, now just the sixth boys club to lay claim to multiple National League titles, joining Dallas Texans (3), Albion SC, Baltimore Bays, Grand Rapids Crew Jrs and GSA Phoenix. Concorde Fire and GSA Phoenix can still join Dallas Texans with a third title this season, depending on the results in Las Vegas.
With games yet to be played in March and standings still to be solidified, more marks could be set in 2012-2013.
Some highlights from today's matches…
Sunrise Elite 97/98 (FL) is the third team to finish a perfect National League season after beating Concorde Fire Elite (GA) 1-0 on the final day. Donald Emerson scored the lone goal of the game to take sole possession of the scoring lead with six total, and Sunrise joins the record books for most goals scored and least goals conceded in a season.
GSA Phoenix (GA) did exactly what they needed to do in Orlando, as they won all three matches to hold down first place and solidify a top-two spot in the Red Division. GSA capped off the week with a 1-0 win over National League title holders and Region II Champions CUP Crew Juniors (OH-S), and their 17 goals this season are good for fifth best in league history. U.S. National Team pool member Josef Samuel scored his fifth goal of the season in the 4th minute, and that held up for the victory as keeper Michael Samnik and center back Kofi Twumasi anchored the defensive shutout.
Concorde Fire Elite followed in the footsteps of the U-18’s as they needed a draw to lock up a top-two finish in the Blue Division, and they got it with a 1-1 result versus CESA Premier (SC). Jahmeil Curwen put Concorde up early with a 5th minute goal, but CESA scored two minutes after the break from Caleb Jenkins to put the heat on, but neither team would find the net again to send Concorde on to Overland Park.
After finally breaking through to the National Championships after yesterday’s result, Under-17 OBGC Rangers (MD) grabbed their first National League title after coming up a point short the past two years with a 4-2 victory over Region I Champion Lehigh Valley United (E-PA). OBGC matched their league record set last year with 22 goals scored on the season, once again led by Jeremy Ebobisse, whose seven goals could hold up for him to be the league leading scorer three years in a row. OBGC got on the board early against Lehigh as Indiana commit Sean Cowdry sent a diving header from a set piece past the Lehigh keeper in the 7th minute. Karl Brown doubled the lead in the 19th for a 2-0 lead at the halftime, but Wyatt Fabian and Zachary Goodwin each scored for Lehigh coming out of the break to level the score. OBGC would not give up the league title this year though, as midfielder Jorge Quintanilla turned provider to goal scorer with strikes in the 67th and 75th minutes to finish off the game and OBGC’s first National League crown. Despite the loss, Lehigh assured themselves a second place finish and will return to the National Championships.
CUP Crew Juniors (OH-S) clinched at least a tie for first place in the Blue Division and a top-two finish with a 4-2 victory over Bethesda SC Revolution (MD). CUP had to fight off a pesky Bethesda team that twice came back to level the score before Noah Wesley-Chevalier put the game away with two second half goals. Jacob Scheper put CUP in front in the 19th minute, but Andrew Zingone equalized for Bethesda in the 25th. CUP went ahead again in the 36th from Josh McDaniel for a 2-1 lead at the break, but Bethesda again erased the difference through Franklin Villatoro two minutes into the second half. Wesley-Chevalier sealed the game with back-to-back strikes in the 58th and 60th minutes for the win to send CUP to Overland Park this summer.
Concorde Fire Elite (GA) needed at least a point to claim the Blue Division title, and AHFC (S-TX) gave them all they could handle in a 1-1 draw that sealed Concorde’s second league title in three years. In 2010, Concorde went on to win the club’s only National Championship. Air Force commit Cameron Duley’s 20th minute goal got Concorde off to the right start, but Juan Salmeron leveled for AHFC five minutes before halftime. Concorde had to hang on in the second half as AHFC picked up the pressure, but the Georgians held firm to return to return to Nationals.
Defending National Champions and National League title holders Galaxy SC (IL) didn’t clinch a berth to the National Championships, but they put themselves in a good position with a 2-0 win over FC Frederick (MD) in the Blue Division. With 14 points on the season, the only team that can catch Galaxy is Everest SC (OH-N), who will need all three victories in Las Vegas next March. Bowling Green commit Joe Sullivan scored the double for Galaxy to move into a tie for the scoring lead, and 2012 National Championships Golden Glove winner Michael Pavliga notched his fourth shutout of the season. Galaxy’s 17 goals this season puts them in a tie for 5th most all-time.
National League Boys action continues March 15-17, at Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex 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.