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WILSON, N.C. (Dec. 10, 2016) — Just one more day remains in the opening weekend of the 2016-17 US Youth Soccer National League Boys season, with Sunday's matches solidifying team standings until the next meeting in Orlando, Fla., Dec. 27-29, alongside the Disney Showcase.
The third day of league play in North Carolina tends to separate the field as teams settle in after an anxious start to the season. While several teams have begun to make strides in the group standings, no division has a clear favorite to claim the title. The top two teams in 10 of the 16 divisions are separated by one point or less, and eight of the divisions contain ties atop the standings.
The competitiveness of the league has been on full display through three days of play in North Carolina, as just 15 teams remain unbeaten and untied. Combined with the fact that spots in the 2017 US Youth Soccer National Championships are on the line, the National League games provide college coaches and U.S. Soccer staff the opportunity to see how the teams and players perform in an intense environment.
“When I was a college coach at the University of Louisville, I liked to evaluate players in a real setting — games that really matter,” said Tony Colavecchia, head coach of 18U SC del Sol. “It’s much easier to evaluate a player — competitiveness, technical, tactical, physical and mental strengths — in this type of environment. The National League certainly offers that each year to each and every program.”
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 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 Boys teams will wrap up their opening week of play on Sunday, Dec. 11, as they each play their fourth game of the season. 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 Saturday's matches…
After some great back and forth play, Penn Fusion Elite (PA-E) took the lead in its 15U Blue Division matchup over Boca Juniors OC 02 White (CA-S) in the 37th minute. Penn Fusion countered off a Boca free kick and got the ball cleared to Brandon Cairy. Cairy made no mistakes while battling off his defender and then calmly slotted his shot by the keeper. Penn Fusion had another chance to increase the score but a huge save by Boca’s David Mitzner kept the score at 1-0. Andrew Resendiz had a great chance to level the score as he beat a defender to the end line but saw his shot from a tough angle saved by the Penn Fusion keeper. Resendiz then had another great chance late in the second half, but his header flashed just wide of the post. Penn Fusion held the 1-0 advantage and now sits tied at the top of the Blue Division with Solar Chelsea Red 02 Stricker (TX-N) — both teams with seven points.
FC Golden State - 2001 (CA-S) recorded its third clean sheet in as many games to defeat Penn Fusion 01 Elite (PA-E), 1-0, in 16U Red Division action. While the Golden State defense continued to excel, the Cal South side found it difficult to break down the Penn Fusion back line. Golden State nearly broke through in the 51st minute when it forced a full extension from Penn Fusion keeper Connor Smith, who tipped the shot just over the bar. The Cal South side finally broke the deadlock in the final five minutes, when Anthony Jacobo received a through ball and finished the play off with a shot that flew off the inside of the post and into the net. With seven points through three games, Golden State is fully in the hunt for the Red Division title.
In the 16U White Division, Sporting Omaha FC 01 Elite (NE) held off second half pressure from LVSA 01 Red (NV) to claim a 2-0 win. Each team entered Saturday with four points in the standings, and Omaha took the upper hand early with a 13th-mintue strike from James Ambrose. LVSA used quick passing to try and maneuver into the Sporting penalty area, but the Nebraska side’s back line remained organized to fend off several dangerous buildups. Omaha added an insurance goal in the 71st minute with a counter attack that ended with Justin Knust beating the last defender and sliding his shot past the keeper. The win pushed Sporting to 2-0-1 after three days of play in North Carolina.
In an evenly matched contest, Sparta 00 JK (UT) claimed a 2-1 win over LFSC Geerling (MO) to remain perfect in the 17U White Division. Fabian Gonzalez Limones opened the scoring in the ninth minute to give Sparta a 1-0 lead. LFSC responded in the 27th minute, when Jack Galkowski made a perfectly-timed run to the near post and placed his first-time shot over the keeper and into the net — tying the score at 1-1. Sparta nearly regained the lead just before half, but LFSC keeper William Ohler scrambled to the back post and denied a point-blank shot. However, Casey Lambert made sure to give the Utah side the lead for good with a 55th-minute strike, and Sparta held on for the 2-1 victory.
Davie United Sharks Blue (FL) picked up its third straight win to stay undefeated in the 17U Black Division with a 1-0 victory over LA Galaxy San Diego 2000 Elite (CA-S). The game’s lone goal came in just the third minute of play, as David Mizrahi rifled a cross across the face of goal, and Cory Adika finished his attempt on goal. LA had a chance to tie the game off a Nicholas Ciepley shot, but the shot was pushed onto the post by Francesco Montali and then cleared out. LA had a last chance to level the score late in the second half, but the attempt was blasted high over the goal. With the clean sheet, Davie United remains one of three remaining 17U teams to not allow a goal this National League season.
CESA 99 Premier (SC) and WPFC 99 Black (WA) played to a 0-0 draw on the third day of 18U Red Division play. With neither side able to find the back of the net, both teams pick up a point that could be crucial down the stretch. After three days of play, WPFC sits at seven points with CESA earning its fifth point of the weekend.
A 2-1 win over La Roca South CS 99/00 Premier (UT) gives BRYC 99 Elite (VA) a good position in the 18U Blue Division standings entering the final day of play in North Carolina. BRYC’s Julien Reininger opened the scoring in just the seventh minute to give the Virginia side the lead. La Roca didn’t waste any time responding, as Jose Pizano-Rodriguez scored just two minutes later. BRYC regained the lead when Powell Ryan dribbled by two La Roca defenders and drew a penalty kick in the box. Ryan Moore stepped up to the spot and calmly put his attempt away to give BRYC the 2-1 victory.
In a matchup of two-win 19/20U Red Division teams, FC United (IL) used a last-minute goal to defeat Penn Fusion 98 (PA-E), 3-2. The back-and-forth contest began with the teams exchanging early goals, as FC United’s Jake Nunez and Penn Fusion’s Frank DeRosa each found the back of the net in the opening five minutes. Jaylen Anderson put FC United back in front with a 67th-minute strike, but Aiden McFadden helped Penn Fusion once again pull even. The sides nearly split the points, but Alexander Alfaro netted a 90th-minute game-winner for the Illinois side — helping FC United move to the top of the Red Division standings.
Keep up with the National League all season:
National League Home: USYouthSoccer.org/National_League
Schedule and results: http://tournaments.usyouthsoccer.org/events/2016-17-National-League/