15U Nationals Union 02 Black (MI) becomes first girls team to clinch berth to Nationals
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ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 1, 2017) — The 2016-17 US Youth Soccer National League Girls showcased their talents in front of hundreds of college coaches in meaningful and competitive matches Sunday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports and ChampionsGate Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla., alongside the Disney Soccer Showcase. The girls teams competing in Orlando will wrap up their season on Monday, while the rest of the league will compete March 17-19 in Las Vegas before standings are finalized.
Nationals Union 02 Black (MI) became the first team to earn a berth to the 2017 US Youth Soccer National Championships by clinching one of the top positions in the 15U Blue Division. Meanwhile, several other teams inched closer to punching their tickets to Nationals by earning important results.
As Nationals Union consists of a combination of players from 2016 National Champion PSG MI Gators 02 Orange and the Region II representative at the National Championships, Waza FC East, several players on the roster have experienced the significant event. Nationals Union coach Jeremy Harkins discussed his thoughts on qualifying for the National Championships through the National League and what’s in store for the last game of the season.
“We’re excited. That’s the main goal of this whole event, so we hope to represent as well as we did last year,” Harkins said. “The mentality doesn’t change for tomorrow because we only have so many chances to compete at this level that might prepare us for those big games and Nationals, so we’ll consider it to be just like one of those games. I think these girls are probably among the most prepared in the country because they’ve been to Nationals, most of them twice now.”
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 Monday, Jan. 2, 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 Sunday’s matches…
After defeating HMMS Eagle FC Impact (PA-E), 1-0, Nationals Union 02 Black (MI) claimed one of the top two spots in the 15U Blue Division standings, earning a berth to the 2017 US Youth Soccer National Championships. Nationals Union holds a 5-1-0 record with five points more than idle Legends FC 02 Academy 1 (CA-S). Holding onto the ball for the majority of the first half, Nationals Union had an early opportunity when Caitlin O’Malley took the ball down the sideline and crossed it to Meike Ingles, who hit the ball off the crossbar. It was a 13th minute goal, however, from Emily Mathews that gave Nationals Union the advantage. Nationals Union had several chances to increase its lead, including a Faith Webber shot in front of the goal, but HMMS goalkeeper Jenna Flenner made the diving save just in time. HMMS prevented Nationals Union from adding onto the advantage, but the one goal turned out to be all Nationals Union needed for the victory.
FCKC Academy Blues Elite (MO) continues to hold the first position in the 16U Black Division standings after earning a 3-0 victory over TFA Elite 01 (OH-S). FCKC applied pressure from the beginning and had a couple close chances, eventually converting the first goal in the 30th minute when Lily Farkas finished a bouncing ball. FCKC made it a 2-0 lead as Madilyn Hamline received a pass in the 18-yard box and slipped the ball into the goal. In the second half, TFA pushed to cut into FCKC’s lead and Elizabeth Flower nearly made it happen as she ran onto a 50/50 ball between her and FCKC goalkeeper Kloee Grubb, but a deflection by Grubb slowed the ball down and steered it wide. Adding onto the advantage, Hamline beat a few defenders down the sideline and served a square pass for Farkas to finish a first-time shot, her second of the game. The win improves FCKC to 4-0-2 and puts it in a solid position to claim the division title.
A battle between the first and second teams in the 16U Red Division resulted in a scoreless draw for CUP Gold 01 (OH-S) and United FA 01 Premier (GA). CUP still holds the first position with 13 points, while United FA shares second with BRYC Elite Academy 01/02 (VA) at 12 points. The first half consisted of many chances for CUP as the ball hardly left the vicinity of United FA’s goal. One of CUP’s chances included a bouncing volley from Sophia Denison that was blocked by the United FA goalkeeper. In the second half, United FA’s Jordan Hall and Anaella Moleka each launched a dangerous shot that landed just wide of the goal. Both teams picked up the intensity as the ball traveled from one end to the other on multiple occasions, but the ball did not touch either net for the full 80 minutes.
Midwest United FC 00 Royal (MI) used a 2-1 win over New Jersey Stallions Academy-Stampede (NJ) on Sunday to gain a two-point advantage on the Stallions atop the 17U Blue Division standings. The Michigan side held possession in its attacking half for several sustained periods of the first half, but New Jersey did well to deny any clear looks at goal. Midwest’s pressure finally paid off in the 42nd minute, as Khloe Hayes beat the New Jersey keeper to a loose ball and slid her shot into an open net to give her side a 1-0 lead. Following a nice save from the New Jersey keeper in the 54th minute, Stephanie Currie crashed the net and chested a bouncing ball over the goal line to double Midwest’s lead. In the 90th minute, Ashleigh Sarafin pulled New Jersey within one with her fifth goal of the season. But the Stallions didn’t have time to search for the equalizer, as Midwest held on for the three points to move past New Jersey into first place.
In a matchup of mid-table 17U Red Division teams looking to earn a place back in the league for next season, Dallas Kicks SC 00 (TX-N) pulled away for a 4-2 win against North Shore United Blue (WI). Dallas got on the board first when Michelle Gonzalez played a through ball to Samantha Meza, who slotted her shot inside the near post. Sydney Robinson responded immediately for North Shore to level the score in the 13th minute. Jaida Thomas made her first of several impacts on the game when she fought off defenders to win a ball in the box and squared a pass for Jordan Martinez to finish — giving the Kicks at 2-1 lead. North Shore once again had an answer in the 56th minute, as Courtney Hoppe did well to get in front of a defender and volley a cross into the near corner. The game remained level until the 83rd minute, when Thomas bodied off a defender to get in on goal and passed a shot into the left side-netting. Thomas sealed the game in stoppage time when she used her speed to run down a ball over the top and slid home a left-footed strike.
CUP Gold 99 (OH-S) used a 1-0 win over Patriot FC 99 Revolution (PA-E) to keep pace with Nationals Union 99 Black (MI) at the top of the 18U Black Division. CUP grabbed a 20th-minute lead when Madison Ovington worked her way into the box and fired a left-footed strike across the face of the goal and into the upper-90. Patriot FC generated some significant pressure in the second half, but CUP did well to prevent any dangerous attempts on goal. The Ohio South side made sure that early goal held up, as it recorded a clean sheet to notch its fourth win of the season.
A win on Sunday helped Syracuse Development Academy (NY-W) move into second place in the 18U Blue Division, as it earned a 3-1 result against SC Waukesha 99 Blue (WI). Addison Hornsey put SDA in front in the 14th minute, as she got to the end line before cutting inside and sending a right-footed strike around the keeper and inside the far post. After a Waukesha equalizer was called back, Alexandra Catanzarite extended the Syracuse lead to 2-0 with a headed effort that beat a diving Waukesha keeper. The Wisconsin side managed to pull a goal back before halftime when it earned a penalty after a player was brought down in the box. Haddie Carlson converted the attempt with a well-placed shot that flew into the left corner despite the keeper guessing correctly and getting a fingertip on the ball. Waukesha pushed for an equalizer in the second half, but Catanzarite netted her second goal of the game to seal Syracuse’s 3-1 win — pulling SDA within one point of idle group leader TSC Showcase (TN).
A 3-0 win for FC Copa Celeste (NJ) over EGA Maroon 98 (NE) keeps FC Copa in the running for a spot in the top two of the crowded 19/20U Blue Division. The division currently includes a three-way tie for second place between FC Copa, EGA and idle Beach FC 98 Academy (CA-S). Christina Rodgers put FC Copa on the board in the eighth minute, and it was Rodgers again who made it a 2-0 game. EGA gave FC Copa plenty of trouble, including a Christina Baxter low shot to wide right of the post. Sophia Dineen also came close to scoring when she chopped the ball back at the end line and shot the ball diagonally over the goal. Shutting down EGA’s offensive campaign, FC Copa topped off the game with a 74th-minute goal from Katarina Nilsson, who slotted the ball on the ground to the bottom left corner of the goal.
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/