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2013-14 US Youth Soccer National League Girls Las Vegas Preview

March 18, 2014 09:48 AM
 

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2013-14 US Youth Soccer National League Girls Las Vegas Preview

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Click for age group previews, games to watch and player notes…
Under-14 | Under-15 | Under-16 | Under-17 | Under-18

FRISCO, Texas (March 18, 2014) — The 2013-2014 US Youth Soccer National League Girls season will wrap up play March 21-23 at Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex in Las Vegas, Nev., as 48 teams — representing 17 states and 34 clubs — will play their final three games and solidify the division standings. In the Under-15 through Under-18 age groups, each division will be represented by four of the eight teams, while the Under-14 divisions will each feature all eight teams.

Nine division championships are still to be decided during the final weekend of National League Girls play, and 17 total teams will punch tickets to the 2014 US Youth Soccer National Championships, held July 21-27 at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, Md.

“The National League seems to get harder and harder each year as the competition gets better,” said Jon Pickup, coach of Under-17 Kings Hammer Academy, which is in a three-way tie for first place heading into the final weekend of play. “I think consistency, more than anything else, is the key. You can’t afford up-and-down games because the competition is so strong.”

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Kings Hammer’s group, the Under-17 Red Division, may provide some of the most thrilling games in Las Vegas, as the top four teams in the division are all competing this weekend. Each team has yet to lose a game and three of the four won all of their games in North Carolina, meaning everything is left to play for in Vegas.

While there’s no telling what the outcome will be in the Under-17 Red Division, some of the other groups are a little clearer. Two former US Youth Soccer National Champions have already punched their tickets to Nationals after strong performances at the Disney Soccer Showcase in Orlando, Fla. Eclipse Elite Black 97/98 (IL) wrapped up the Under-16 Blue Division title, while BRYC 95 Elite (VA) secured at least a second-place finish in the Under-18 Red Division. Futura Academy Forte (MO) was the only other side to solidify a berth to the National Championships, as it wrapped up a top two finish in the Under-15 Blue Division.

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 2014 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.  The top two finishers in the Under-14, 15, 16 and 17 age groups will also earn an automatic spot in the 2014-2015 National League season.

“Our goal each year is to make it to Nationals by finishing first or second in the National League. We were fortunate the last two years. We won the league in our first year and then came in second last year,” Pickup said. “Ideally, we’d love to win the league. Realistically, coming in first or second in such a competitive environment is great and gets us where we need to be come July.”

The Kings Hammer coach said he and his team are looking forward to the challenge they’ll face in Las Vegas, and he thinks it should be an exciting weekend for all of the teams — adding that these are the type of games competitors want to play in. But with the level of talent on each team, there’s little room for error.

“You really need to have a strong squad, which has been important for us the last two years and this year. We are 16, 17 or 18 players strong,” Pickup said. “When people are tired, we have ability to put players on the field and stay at a high level. In some of the other leagues, you can put anybody on the field for the most part and win games. That’s not the case in the National League, which is fun for everybody involved.”

Click for age group previews, games to watch and player notes…
Under-14 | Under-15 | Under-16 | Under-17 | Under-18

 

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