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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 17, 2017) — The US Youth Soccer National League 15U, 16U, 17U, 18U and 19/20U Girls resumed league play Friday at the Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex in Las Vegas, Nev., alongside the 2017 Players College Showcase.
The girls entered the final weekend of their season with 14 berths to the 2017 US Youth Soccer National Championships still to be determined. 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). The top finishers in the 15U, 16U and 17U age groups also secure their place in the league for next season, meaning the teams had plenty on the line as they kicked off their weekend in Las Vegas.
Just one more team secured a berth to Nationals on Friday, as defending National Champion YMS Premier Xplosion 98 (PA-E) clinched a top-two finish in the 19/20U Red Division.
There are still 12 division titles to be decided over the weekend, as Friday saw a few title dreams put on hold after opponents stepped up and produced results of their own. 18U Utah FC 99 Black (UT) was among those challengers, as it earned a 2-0 win against previously unbeaten and untied Florida Krush Black (FL).
“We believe we can play with anyone, and we proved it today,” Utah coach Eric Brady said. “The other thing is they’re doing it in the National League on the highest stage in front of college coaches. These girls have schools like Harvard, Utah and Minnesota out here watching them play. To be able to do that under that kind of pressure with that opportunity, it just helps them build on and off the field.”
2017 US Youth Soccer National Championship Qualifiers via the National League
Blue: Nationals Union 02 Black (MI)
Blue Champion: Michigan Jaguars 01 Green (MI)
Red Champion: CUP Gold 01 (OH-S)
Blue Champion: Midwest United FC 00 Royal (MI)
White Champion: FC Pennsylvania Strikers (PA-E)
Red: 98 CR Academy (NC)
Red: YMS Premier Xplosion 98 (PA-E)*
National League Girls action continues Saturday, March 18 at the Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex with games at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 12 p.m. PT and 2 p.m. PT.
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 Friday’s matches…
In the 15U Red Division, Cincinnati United Premier Gold (OH-S) gave La Roca-PO 02 (UT) its first loss of the season after putting three goals in the back of the net. As both CUP and La Roca held 4-0-0 records going into Friday’s match, the battle for the division title began at an intense pace. There were offensive pushes at both ends, but La Roca picked up momentum and possession about 15 minutes into the first half. The Utah side earned a close opportunity when Whitney Lopez dribbled through the defenders and laid the ball off for Tiani Fonoti, who sent her shot across the goal for the right corner, but CUP goalkeeper Madison Prohaska got a hand on the ball just in time. With the momentum swinging for La Roca, CUP caught its opponent off guard when Sydney Jones found a gap through the defenders before slotting the ball into the bottom left corner of the net. CUP made it a 2-0 game within the first minute of the second half as Kaitlyn Andrews cut the ball across the last defender and buried a shot. La Roca pushed to get back into the game and kept the ball in CUP’s defensive end, but after one close chance for La Roca, CUP was immediately on the other end of the field, and Andrews put CUP’s third goal in the back of the net. La Roca continued to strive to get on the board, but CUP claimed the win and now sits on top of the 15U Red Division standings.
Legends FC 01 Academy (CA-S) inched closer to the 16U White Division title with a 2-2 draw Friday against Century V 01 Gold (PA-W). The Cal South side sustained periods of attacking possession in the first half, but Century did well to deny Legends a break through goal. In the 55th minute, Legends managed to grab an advantage when Sage Robledo headed home a cross from the left flank. Century responded just seven minutes later, as Haleigh Finale made a run to the back post and hit a low cross into the back of the net. The PA West side grabbed a lead in the 72nd minute when Brianna Rose played a floating ball in from the left wing that dipped under the bar and inside the right post. That lead didn’t last long, as Legends leveled the score in the 78th minute with a Jade Enalen strike. The Cal South side had two golden chances to earn the full three points in the final minutes, but Century keeper Jillian Rocco produced two big saves to preserve the draw. Legends is now four points back of the group leader with two games left to play.
Florida Elite 2001 (FL) made it one step closer to earning a berth to the National Championships after defeating PacNW 01 Maroon (WA), 3-1, in a 16U Black Division matchup. Aaliyah Thompson earned Florida Elite an early lead with a goal in the 3rd minute. Florida Elite continued to press high and gained multiple throw-ins near the goal, which created dangerous opportunities as the team sent long throw-ins into the box. In fact, a second goal came for Florida Elite off of a long throw-in in the 48th minute when Alexandra Horton ran the ball into the net. Bella Kober added a third goal in the 56th minute as she took a shot from outside the 18-yard box and kept the ball on the ground for a bottom right corner finish. Although PacNW got on the board with a penalty kick from Nikayla Copenhaver, Florida Elite took the victory and is now only three points behind the top two teams in the division, idle Nationals Union 01 Black (MI) and FCKC Academy Blues Elite (MO).
CUP 00 Gold (OH-S) dropped its first points of the season in a 1-1 draw against Rebels SC Elite (CA-S) in 17U Black Division action. Anna Podojil opened the scoring for CUP when she found the back of the net in the 17th minute. However, Rebels SC wasted little time in producing an equalizer, as Erin Healy recorded her fifth goal of the season just two minutes later. The Cal South side looked like the more dangerous team in the second half, as it consistently pressed the CUP back line and came close on several occasions to getting a clean look at goal. Meanwhile, CUP’s Jordyn Rhodes came closest to producing a game-winner as she had two shots from distance that forced the Rebels SC keeper to make difficult saves. In the end, the sides split the points — allowing Princeton SA (NJ) to take over sole possession of first place with its fifth win in as many games.
Greater Seattle Surf 00A (WA) climbed up the 17U White Division standings with a 4-3 win over Cleveland FC (OH-N). Kelsy Berge got Surf on the board first in the 14th minute, but five minutes later Cleveland FC responded with a goal from Chase Ray. Surf reclaimed the lead when a corner kick was sent in and Isabel Kembel was there to head the ball into the bottom corner of the goal. Thirty-eight minutes passed in the second half before Cleveland FC tied up the match as Kayla Wypasek received the ball at the top of the 18-yard box and kept the ball on the ground for the execution. Suddenly, in the span of three minutes, three goals took place. Cleveland FC’s Kathleen Druzina stole the lead, but Surf’s Kailin Wiley immediately tied up the match before Jadyn Edwards’ goal earned Surf the victory. Surf currently holds a 4-1-0 record and sits three points behind the division leader, idle Campton United 1 (IL), but Surf will have to compete with Legends FC 00 Academy (CA-S), who is one point ahead with two games left to play.
In the 18U Black Division, Utah FC 99 Black (UT) put Florida Krush Black (FL)’s title chances on hold as it defeated the Krush, 2-0, on Friday. Utah controlled possession early and spent significant time in its attacking half, but it was the previously unbeaten and untied Florida side that generated the game’s first real chance. A Krush player hit a dipping shot in the 20th minute that forced Utah keeper Marren Nielsen into a lunging save that deflected the ball off the crossbar. Utah got back on the front foot after that close call and cashed in on its early pressure in the 27th minute. Amber Jones slipped in behind the Krush defense and placed her shot around the onrushing keeper. Ashton Brockbank doubled the lead shortly after halftime, and Utah FC came away with the 2-0 victory.
LA Galaxy SD Elite 99 (CA-S) picked up a 2-1 victory over Cleveland FC (OH-N), remaining in contention for the 18U Blue Division title. While LA Galaxy came close to producing a breakthrough goal, it was a scoreless first half. In the second half, LA Galaxy picked up the pace and finally earned a goal as Hadley Sbrega put the ball in the back of the net. Cleveland FC tied up the match when Kayla Fischer passed a ball to Vanessa DiNardo, who slipped her shot past the LA Galaxy goalkeeper. Cleveland FC gained some rhythm and wanted another one, but LA Galaxy shut its opponent down when Kayleigh Webb dipped a shot over the keeper and into the goal. LA Galaxy is currently in third place in the division and four points behind active TSC Showcase (TN), who holds the division lead.
Defending National Champion YMS Premier Xplosion 98 (PA-E) is heading back to Frisco, Texas, thanks to a 4-0 win Friday against Legends FC 98 Academy (CA-S). The Eastern Pennsylvania side grabbed a 31st minute lead when Maddie Elwell floated a free kick into a dangerous area, and Meredith Webber managed to direct it into the goal. Shortly after halftime, Harvard commit Murphy Agnew wisely played a quick free kick that put Rebecca Rossett in on goal. Rossett held off a defender and finished from a tough angle to double the YMS lead. Agnew got in on the scoring in the 61st minute when she slotted a first-time shot inside the far post. Elwell capped the scoring with another tally three minutes later, as YMS secured at least a top-two finish in the 19/20U Red Division.
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/