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2016-17 US Youth Soccer National League Boys continue play in Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 11, 2017) — The US Youth Soccer National League 15U, 16U, 17U, 18U and 19/20U Boys continued league play Saturday at the Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex in Las Vegas, Nev., alongside the 2017 Players College Showcase. The boys will wrap up their season on Sunday, as the standings will be solidified and the final tickets to the 2017 US Youth Soccer National Championships will be secured.

After no berths to the National Championships were determined Friday, nine teams secured their ticket to Frisco, Texas, on Saturday — with seven of those sides clinching division titles. However, the top of many group standings are still in question, as six National League division titles will be decided on the season’s final day.

Teams qualify for the National Championships by winning their division (16U, 17U and 18U age groups) or by finishing in the top two of their division (15U and 19/20U age groups). Aside from earning a ticket to Nationals, the top finishers in the 15U, 16U and 17U age groups also have a chance to earn their automatic return to the league for the 2017-18 season.

CUP 99 Gold (OH-S) was one of the teams to punch its ticket to the National Championships on Saturday, as it rode a strong defense that has conceded just one goal through six 18U White Division games. Fittingly, CUP sealed the division with another clean sheet on Saturday and an 88th-minute winner from Cody Busam.

“The National League has been a wonderful event and a goal of the team’s to see what they can do here,” CUP coach Scott Rodgers said. “To get the title in that kind of fashion — late in the game — was a tribute to them and the team we played against.

“Every game is a battle. The National League is a challenging event, and for our boys to clinch today was outstanding.”

Team and individual history is also at stake in Las Vegas. In the 17U age group, Raiders FC (IL) clinched its second straight Red Division title and is looking to become the first team to record back-to-back 7-0-0 seasons. Meanwhile, history has already been made in the 15U age group, where Midwest United FC 02 Royal (MI)’s Noah Brumels used a hat trick on Saturday to set a new individual single-season goal-scoring record with 15.

2017 US Youth Soccer National Championship Qualifiers via the National League
*qualified Saturday

15U Boys
Blue: Solar Chelsea Red 02 Stricker (TX-N)*
Red Champion: Midwest United FC 02 Royal (MI)*

16U Boys
Blue Champion: CUP Gold 01 (OH-S)*
Red Champion: Lobos Rush 01 Premier (TN)
White Champion: LVSA 01 Red (NV)*

17U Boys
Black Champion: McLean 00 Green (VA)
Red Champion: Raiders FC (IL)*

18U Boys
Black Champion: OP Green (OH-S)*
Red Champion: WPFC 99 Black (WA)*
White Champion: CUP 99 Gold (OH-S)*

19/20U Boys
Blue: Challenger Crew Jrs Gold 98 (OH-N)*
Red Champion: Penn Fusion 98 (PA-E)

National League Boys action continues Sunday, March 12 at the Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex with games at 7:30 a.m., 9:20 a.m. and 11:10 a.m. and 1 p.m. PT. Teams and anyone interested in attending the games should remember that daylights saving time begins tomorrow and games will be pushed forward one hour.

The National League is an extension of the highly successful US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues (US Youth Soccer Eastern Regional League, Midwest Regional League, Southern Regional 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.

National League teams earn their place in the league based on a proven track record of success in US Youth Soccer regional and national competitions and are among the nation's best. Competing for a league title and a spot in the US Youth Soccer National Championships, each and every game will play into who represents the National League this summer in Frisco, Texas.

The National League’s alumni have gone on to prove themselves at the collegiate and professional levels, with former players competing in NCAA Division I, II and III, Major League Soccer, National Women’s Soccer League, the UEFA Champions League, the Olympics and the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The top pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft and the last three NWSL Drafts (2015-17) have each been former National League players.

Some highlights from Saturday’s matches…

Solar Chelsea Red 02 Stricker (TX-N) clinched a berth to the National Championships with a 3-1 win against Michigan Wolves 02 (MI) in 15U Blue Division action. Ilean Castorena put Solar in front with a seventh-minute strike, but the Wolves immediately responded a minute later with a goal from Kevin Kapllaj. Solar regained its advantage later in the half when Grant McCarty gathered a corner kick to the back post and quickly slid his shot past the keeper. Samuel Johnson added a late insurance goal to help pad Solar’s lead, as the North Texas side came away with the 3-1 victory — securing at least a top-two finish in the Blue Division. A 1-0 win by Boca Juniors OC 02 White (CA-S) prevented Solar from clinching the division title, as the two sides will play Sunday to determine the group winner.

In the 15U Red Division, Midwest United FC 02 Royal (MI) scored early and often en route to its 4-1 victory over SC Waukesha 02 Blue (WI). Midwest’s Noah Brumels scored the game’s first goal in the very first minute of play — setting the tone for the game. David Ross doubled the advantage in the 19th minute when he received a cross and slotted his shot to the bottom left. Brumels added his second just four minutes later bringing the score to 3-0. Waukesha cut into the lead as Lochlan Eaton headed home his chance on the back post. Brumels completed his hat trick in the second half to bring the final score to 4-1. Brumels’ trio of goals brought his total on the season to 15, which sets a National League single season goal scoring record. With the win, Midwest clinched the 15U Red Division title to earn a berth to the National Championships.

EC Real Salinas Galaxy 01 (CA-N) entered Saturday’s game against Raiders FC (IL) with a chance to clinch the 16U Black Division title, but the Illinois side picked up a big 2-1 victory to pull even with Galaxy at the top of the group. Raiders jumped in front in just the second minute, as Isaac Carnalla converted a penalty kick to give his side the lead. Jerry Ayon offered a quick response for EC Real when he ran on to a ball played behind the defense and slid his shot past the onrushing keeper and off the inside of the left post — tying the game at 1-1. The EC Real keeper made a diving save on a 25th-minute free kick to help keep the game level after the first half. Despite an early second-half send-off for a second yellow card, 10-man Raiders continued to attack the EC Real goal. That pressure eventually resulted in a 70th-minute go-ahead tally, as Daniel Favela freed himself at the top of the box and placed his shot through traffic and into the back of the net. That proved to be the game-winner, as the Raiders held off a late EC Real surge to come away with the 2-1 victory. The head-to-head win over EC Real could prove to be vital when the standings are finalized following Sunday’s games.

For the second straight season, 17U Raiders FC (IL) has clinched its National League division thanks to a 4-0 win over Delaware Rush 00 (DE) in 17U Red Division play. Christian Crespo opened the scoring in the 15th minute when he beat a couple of defenders in the box and placed his shot into the far corner. Evangelo Spartiatis doubled the Raiders’ advantage with a right-footed blast that found the left side netting in the 31st minute. Crespo added another strike just before halftime to give the Illinois side a comfortable lead entering the final 45 minutes. Salvador Valencia added a late penalty kick to cap the 4-0 victory. The win gave the Raiders their second Red Division title in as many years and set it up for a chance to record a historic second consecutive 7-0-0 season.

In the 17U White Division, Sparta 00 JK (UT) entered Saturday’s game with a chance to win the group. However, the Utah side had to settle for a 2-2 draw against Libertyville FC 1974 (IL) and will have a big game on Sunday against Seattle United Copa (WA) to determine the division winner. Seattle came away with a key 5-1 win on Saturday that kept its hopes of finishing in first a reality, but it will need to defeat Sparta on the season’s final day to accomplish that feat.

A 1-1 draw on Saturday was enough to help OP Green (OH-S) secure the 18U Black Division title and a berth to the National Championships. The Ohio South side jumped ahead of Strikers FC North (CA-S) in the 18th minute when Luke Kiley rose like a salmon above the defenders to direct a header into the back of the net. That lead lasted only until the 35th minute, as Strikers FC responded with a strike from Nathaniel Santana. A long throw in made its way to Santana, and he drilled a half-volley past the OP keeper to level the score. The teams battled for a breakthrough for much of the second half, and OP received a prime chance when it earned a penalty kick late in the match. However, the attempt hit the crossbar and the score remained level — causing some tense final moments. The miss didn’t come back to haunt the Ohio South side, as OP Green managed to hang on for the tie it needed to clinch the division title.

Two second-half goals helped WPFC 99 Black (WA) earn a 2-0 victory over FC Montco Die Mannschaft (PA-E). Neither team could find a goal in the first half, with the action going back and forth toward both ends. WPFC finally broke the deadlock in the 75th minute, as Grant Larson broke down the left flank and hammered a shot near post by the FC Montco keeper. Mario Vukic put the game out of reach just seven minutes later on an almost identical run down the left flank. Vukic placed a curling shot to the far post to seal the 2-0 victory. With the win, WPFC clinched the 18U Red Division title and will now have its eyes on a chance at the National Championship in Frisco, Texas, in July.

Challenger Crew Jrs Gold 98 (OH-S) locked its place in the National Championships by defeating Baltimore Bays 98 (MD), 2-0. Zach Bruescher scored the game’s only first-half goal, receiving a pass on the run and side-footing his chance into the bottom corner. Stephen Milhoan, the 2016 NSCAA High School Boys Player of the Year, made it 2-0 late in the second half when he buried a shot inside the far post. Challenger held Baltimore’s offense at bay the rest of the way and earned the 2-0 win. Challenger will look to lock down the 19/20U Blue Division tomorrow when it faces Chicago Fire Juniors South (IL). Chicago secured a big 5-2 win over Albion SC White (CA-S) on Saturday to give itself a chance to gain a berth to Nationals but will need a win over Challenger to make it a reality.

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