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WILSON, N.C. (Dec. 2, 2016) — The 2016-17 US Youth Soccer National League Girls season is in full swing after two days of play at the Wilson Gillette Athletic Complex and Rocky Mount Sports Complex in North Carolina. The season is shaping up to be a long fight for the divisional titles and automatic entries to the US Youth Soccer National Championships, and Saturday’s games should play a big role in separating some teams in the standings.
After two days of play, just 17 of the 128 teams have come away unscathed with two wins.
More than 350 college coaches have been on hand to watch the National League players start their pursuit for a berth to the National Championships. With each game holding significant meaning to the final standings, the intensity of each National League game is similar to that which the players will face in college.
“The National League does a good job of preparing these players for the next level — preparing these players for the college game — because every game is competitive,” Penn State head coach Erica Dambach said. “They train and play in competitive environments. When they step into our environment, they’re used to those types of conditions.
“You’ve got to play against the best and train against the best, and I think that’s what they’re finding in the National League.”
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 action will continue Saturday, Dec. 3, as the girls teams play their third 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 Friday's matches…
In a high-scoring match with five total goals from both teams in the first half, La Roca-PO 02 (UT) claimed a win over Sting Austin (TX-S) in the 15U Red Division. La Roca opened the game on a strong note as it took a 2-0 lead with a couple goals in quick succession. Whitney Lopez scored for La Roca when she received the ball at the back post of a cross and passed the ball into the net, and Tiani Fonoti scored the second as she ran onto a long cross across the goal and ran through the ball to slip it past the goalkeeper. The Sting players did not allow the deficit to affect them, as they quickly cut into La Roca’s lead. Sting built up the play, and when Tatiana Jerman found herself at the top of the 18-yard box, she took a shot for an upper net finish. La Roca gained some breathing room when Rylee Gurney converted a penalty kick, but five minutes later, Sting earned a penalty kick on the other end and Alycia Buenaventura finished the goal to make it a 3-2 game. Second-half goals from Kalea Woodyatt, Brynlee Meyerhoffer and Katelyn Olson increased La Roca’s lead for the 6-2 victory. La Roca now holds a 2-0-0 record.
Entering Friday, six of the eight 16U White Division teams sat at one point in the standings after three of the four group games ended in 1-1 draws on Thursday. In a matchup of two of those one-point sides, Kings Hammer Academy Red (KY) pulled away for a 3-0 win over FC Alliance 01 (TN). Brooke Harden gave KHA the lead in the 37th minute when she turned onto her right foot and fired her shot past the keeper. Just two minutes later, Elizabeth Lovdal doubled the lead when she slipped a shot into the corner following a crafty through ball from Maria Wiefering. The Kentucky side sealed the game in the final minute when Abigail Wesselkamper cut inside a defender and scored the final goal in KHA’s 3-0 win.
La Roca Premier FD (UT) and Greater Binghamton FC (NY-W) each picked up a point in the 16U Blue Division standings after playing to a scoreless draw. Binghamton nearly took a 60th-minute lead, but La Roca keeper Alyssa Huff made a lunging save on a shot that was heading for the far corner. After a late La Roca free kick from just outside the box went right at the keeper, Binghamton came back and created one more prime scoring chance. A corner kick led to a scramble at the top of the box, and an ensuing Binghamton shot rang off the crossbar. That proved to be the last clean look at goal, as the teams settled for the tie.
CUP 00 Gold (OH-S) picked up its second win in the 17U Black Division with a 3-0 victory over 00 TFCA Alliance (NC). The 2016 National Championship finalists grabbed a lead in the 32nd minute when Divya Patel found the back of the net. Shortly after halftime, CUP doubled its lead thanks to a Paige Elliott tally. Olivia Scheper added a goal and the CUP defense remained strong to help the Ohio South team to the shutout win.
In a game between two equally matched teams in the 17U Blue Division, Tennessee SC 2000 Showcase (TN) snuck in a 1-0 victory over FC Kansas City Academy Blues Elite 2000 (MO). While FC Kansas City’s Rylan Childers took multiple shots on goal, Tennessee SC’s Macy Douglas also had several chances, including a breakaway where she beat the goalkeeper and saw the shot get blocked by an FC Kansas City defender. After a scoreless first half, Tennessee SC’s lone goal of the game came in the 53rd minute. Megan Henry dribbled the ball down the sideline, and when her shot was blocked, Kate Katzman finished the follow-up. Henry also wanted a goal of her own as she sent the ball skimming over the crossbar. After a few close opportunities from FC Kansas City, Tennessee SC held onto the 1-0 win.
After dropping its first 18U Blue Division game, Beadling 99 (PA-W) responded with a dominant second half to run away from Eastside FC 99 Red (WA). The teams were even through much of the first half, but Alina Stahl netted a 41st-minute goal to put Beadling in front. Lauren Bell got behind the defense and placed her shot just inside the right post to put the lead to 2-0 in the 50th minute. Just seconds later, Stahl got to the end line and found the back of the net from a tight angle to extend the lead. Bell later added a second goal before Stahl completed a hat trick. Lexie Kolano wrapped up the scoring with a goal in the final minutes to help Beadling to a convincing win.
In the 18U Red Division, Classics Eagles Red (OH-S) and UFA 99 Premier (GA) played to a 1-1 decision, making this UFA’s second tie in a row. UFA’s goal came early in the sixth minute as the team took a corner kick and after a header sent the ball toward the goal, Payton Schun placed it in the net. UFA continued to maintain the possession in its offensive half, taking consecutive corner kicks and creating dangerous opportunities, but Classics began to gain a rhythm and hold their defensive line. In the second half, UFA pushed for a second goal. Classics disrupted UFA’s offensive drive when Gillian Losey received a pass in the middle of the 18-yard box and finished a one-time shot into the upper right corner of the net. The match picked up pace as neither team wanted to settle for the tie, with Classics pounding shots on goal while UFA held on. It was a scramble until the final minute of the game that ultimately finished in a 1-1 draw.
Austin Texans 98 (TX-S) claimed a 1-0 win over ABGC Annandale United FC 98 (VA) during their 19/20U Blue Division matchup. The game remained scoreless for a full 90 minutes, but Jayme Woodfill placed the ball in the net at the last minute for a stoppage time game winner. The win propelled the Texans to a 1-1-0 record.
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/