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ORLANDO, Fla. (Dec. 27, 2016) — The 2016-17 US Youth Soccer National League resumed league play Saturday, as half of the 128 boys teams competed at the ESPN Wide World of Sports and ChampionsGate Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla., alongside the Disney Soccer Showcase.
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 finishers from each division will earn a ticket to the 2017 US Youth Soccer National Championships, making each match valuable to the teams’ fate as it could make or break their chance at competing for the National Championship.
The battle for positioning in the standings remains close, and there is still very little clarity at the top of most of the divisions. Tuesday saw zero division titles clinched, but several teams made important jumps in the standings by securing three points with wins.
One such team that picked key points to begin its week in Florida is 18U Dix Hills Hurricanes (NY-E), which needed two goals in the final eight minutes to avoid defeat. The Eastern New York side, which won its division a year ago, knows the effort required to finish on top of the National League.
“We know the National League is a great competition. We’ve been doing this for three years and won it last year,” Dix Hills Hurricanes coach Jose Rebay said. “We knew coming in — to have a chance — we had to win three games.
“It’s been great for these players. The league allows them to play teams from all over the country and see different styles. It’s a great growing process for the players.”
The National League teams that do not compete in Orlando will complete their season at the Players College Showcase in Las Vegas — with boys games held March 10-12 and girls games played March 17-19.
The National League features the top 256 teams in the 15U through 19/20U Boys and Girls age groups. With teams in each age group divided into eight-team divisions, each side has had to earn its place in the league through success in US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues and National Championship Series play.
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 action continues Wednesday, Dec. 28, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports and ChampionsGate Sports Complex. 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.
Some highlights from Tuesday’s matches…
In a high-scoring, back-and-forth game between Bethesda SC South 02 (VA) and CUP 02 Gold (OH-S), the teams finished in a 4-4 draw. CUP got on the board first when a driven cross was sent into the 18-yard box and Anthony Samways hit the ball for a first-time finish. Bethesda responded as Adrienne Reyes placed the ball in the bottom left corner of the goal, and the team soon took the lead when Tanner Baldwin crossed the ball and Danny Angel chipped a shot over the CUP goalkeeper. In the second half, Bethesda’s Jarod Feitshans increased his team’s lead to 3-1 after beating the goalkeeper and passing the ball into the net. Samways cut into Bethesda’s lead when he converted a penalty kick for CUP in the 69th minute. After a free kick from about 40 yards out, CUP’s Ben Damge followed up the shot to record the equalizer. As the game moved into stoppage time, CUP took a 4-3 lead when Caleb Tan threw the ball in and Samways volleyed the ball in for his third goal of the game. However, less than one minute later, Bethesda’s Mason Specht tied up the match once more for the final goal, securing the 4-4 tie.
In a matchup between the two top teams in the 16U White Division, Sporting Omaha FC 01 Elite (NE) and USA/MP 01 Premier (SC) battled to a 1-1 draw. Sporting Omaha opened the game with an early goal in the first minute. After a long throw in from Riley Hackbart, Duncan McGuire was there to poke the ball in. USA/MP responded with a couple free kicks outside of the box, which were sent into the mix, but USA/MP could not get a final shot off. Sporting Omaha generated its next best chance when Tyler Mase launched a shot just over the crossbar, and USA/MP’s Jeffrey Mason nearly evened the match as he sent a diving header wide of the goal, despite being offside. In the second half, USA/MP gained the equalizer as Alexandre Ballish Regueiro slipped the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal. While both teams were hungry for another goal, Sporting Omaha’s Carlos Salazar-Sevilla had a last-minute opportunity as he went on a breakaway, but his shot bounced off the inside the post and back into play. In the end, the game finished tied at 1-1.
Bethesda South 01 (VA) came out with a close 1-0 victory over GSA 01 Premier (GA) in a 16U Blue Division matchup. The first half was an even battle between the two teams as each side had its fair share of chances. In the second half, the pace picked up, and right after the whistle, Bethesda’s DongHa Kim dribbled down the field and blasted a rocket, just skimming over the crossbar. GSA’s Alexis Iturria kept Bethesda goalkeeper Angel Sanchez-Palomino busy with consecutive shots on goal. One of Iturria’s best shots occurred as he cut the ball across a defender and launched the ball toward the side of the net, but Sanchez-Palomino came out big with a diving save. The ball remained on GSA’s offensive half, but one chance for Bethesda was all the team needed to shut GSA down. In the 67th minute, Colin McMunn found a gap between defenders and curled the ball into the upper left side of the net. GSA continued to produce shot after shot, but Bethesda held on to the 1-0 lead until the final whistle.
As Solar Chelsea 01 Elite (TX-N) and 01 CASL Red North (NC) each held the same 2-2-0 record going into Tuesday’s game, CASL pulled away from Solar Chelsea in the 16U Black Division standings with a 1-0 win. A dangerous opportunity came for Solar Chelsea as it sent a free kick from the half line into the 18-yard box. Several Solar Chelsea players surrounded the ball, but the team couldn’t get a clear shot on target. CASL’s defense shut down many of Solar Chelsea’s chances, preventing them from getting close to goal. In the second half, Owen O’Malley converted CASL’s lone goal after he placed a penalty kick to the right side of the goal. Solar Chelsea goalkeeper Guido Peluffo got a hand on the shot and nearly made the save, but the attempt ultimately hit the back of the net. CASL almost increased the lead with a rocket of a shot from Dylan Lane, yet Peluffo tipped the ball over the crossbar just in time. After a strong effort from both teams, CASL took the win.
Davie United Sharks Blue (FL) picked up a key 3-1 win over previously 4-0-0 Nationals Union 00 Black (MI) to earn three huge points in the 17U Black Division. In the early going, it looked like Nationals Union would keep its perfect record intact, as Alex Steinwascher headed home a breakthrough goal in the eighth minute put the Michigan side in front. Davie United generated pressure throughout the match and nearly equalized midway through the second half, but Nationals keeper Jordan Glaser made a sprawling save and the follow-up hit the right post. The Florida side finally netted an equalizer in the 70th minute when Marcello Souza Cruz nodded home a header. Andoni Garrogericaechebarria kept the momentum going with a go-ahead goal just five minutes later, and Cory Adika added a late insurance goal to cap the 3-1 win. The victory moves Davie United to 13 points, just two behind group leader and defending National Champion McLean 00 Green (VA), who is 5-0-0.
In the 17U White Division, LFSC Geerling (MO) crept closer to the top of the table on Tuesday with a 4-3 win over TUSC 00 Red (TN). Tristan Stotler put LFSC in front early before an own goal and an Atakelti Gebregzabher strike put TUSC up, 2-1, in the 29th minute. Ryan Berhorst equalized for LFSC just before half, but Tyler Jessen put the Tennessee side back in front with a goal shortly after the break. However, LFSC’s Nathan D Temm found the back of the net twice in the final 12 minutes to help the Missouri side secure the 4-3 victory. LFSC is now within one point of group leader FC Dallas 00 Che (TX-N), who fell, 1-0, to HMMS Eagle FC 00 Titans (PA-E) on Tuesday.
In a matchup of two teams hungry for points in the 18U Red Division, Dix Hills Hurricanes (NY-E) used a pair of late goals to earn a hard fought 4-3 win over FC Dallas 99 Premier Dymond (TX-N). Dorihan Funga-Mukaba gave FC Dallas a 21st-minute lead before Isaias Noel Reyes and Nicholas Honor put Dix Hills in front with a pair of goals early in the second half. Ryan Wilson and Eddie Sanchez returned the favor with tallies in the 64th and 67th minutes to help FC Dallas regain the advantage. The Texas side nearly extended its lead, but the Dix Hills keeper made an excellent stop on a penalty kick to keep his side within one. That save paid off, as Samuel Steinberg finished off a quick counter attack by slipping his shot through the keeper’s legs to tie the game at 3-3. Dix Hills kept the pressure going and netted a stoppage time game-winner, when John Arauz received a nice square ball in the box and struck his first-time shot past the keeper to give the Hurricanes the 4-3 victory. With the win, Dix Hills moves into a first-place tie with idle WPFC 99 Black (WA).
UFA Premier (GA) is in the thick of the hunt for the 18U Blue Division title after a 2-0 win against Baltimore Celtic SC Christos (MD) to open its week in Florida. The Georgia side grabbed a lead just before halftime when Eoin Griffiths made a run to the near post and hit a glancing header into the net. The game flowed back and forth in the second half before United FA sealed it in the final minute. After a player was taken down in the box, Dalton Seckinger stepped up to the penalty spot and sent the keeper the wrong way to convert the attempt — sealing the 2-0 win for United FA. The Georgia side is one point behind group leader BRYC 99 Elite (VA), who also won on Tuesday.
In the 19/20U Blue Division, Loudoun 98 Red (VA) moved into a first-place tie with idle Challenger Crew Jrs Gold 98 (OH-N) thanks to a shutout victory on Tuesday.
Penn Fusion 98 (PA-E) moved to the top of the 19/20U Red Division with a dominant win on Tuesday, and it has chances to add to its lead in a couple of tough matchups to finish the week in Florida.
Keep up with the National League all season:
National League Home: USYouthSoccer.org/National_League
Schedule and results: Tournaments.usyouthsoccer.org/events/2016-17-National-League/