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WILSON, N.C. (Dec. 1, 2016) — The top teams in the country showcased their talent Thursday as several energetic matchups got the 10th season of US Youth Soccer National League Girls play underway in Wilson, N.C., and Rocky Mount, N.C. All of the teams in each of the 15U, 16U, 17U, 18U and 19/20U Girls age groups began the 2016-17 National League season at the Wilson Gillette Soccer Complex and Rocky Mount Sports Complex.
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.
More than 300 college coaches lined the sidelines on Thursday and many more are expected to attend this National League weekend to scout some of the top teams and players in the country. The competitive level of each game adds to player evaluation, as every team has to earn their place in the league, regardless of location or club affiliation.
Each point gained in the standings can make or break a chance for teams to win their division and advance to Nationals. Because of that, it’s important for teams to come out focused on the opening day of the season.
“First games are big because it’s kind of like scoring the first goal. There’s a mindset, a mentality, a psychology that is easier to deal with,” said Brad Childers, a director and coach for FC Kansas City. “With the National League, the thing I like the most is that you know you’re going to get good games. The accountability to have to perform and have to be prepared is always there.”
Three of the four defending US Youth Soccer National Champions came away with three points on Thursday, while 18U LA Galaxy SD Elite 99 (CA-S) came away with a scoreless draw.
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 Friday, Dec. 2, as the girls teams play their second 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 Thursday's matches…
In the 15U Red Division, North United Rush (PA-W) and Sporting OFC 2002 (NE) fought to a 1-1 draw. The majority of the first half remained even between the two teams until Megan Donnelly got North United on the board in the 36th minute. Just three minutes later, Sporting’s Maranda Kavan netted a goal for the equalizer. In the second half, both teams battled to gain the game-winning goal — with North United creating more offensive chances while Sporting did well to hang on. In the end, the game finished in a 1-1 tie.
Arsenal FC Brown (CA-S) went on a scoring spree to defeat Solar Chelsea 02 Hopkins (TX-N) in their 15U Blue Division matchup. The game started out fast-paced from both sides and Arsenal FC’s first three goals came right after the other. Solar Chelsea continued to fight throughout the game, and the team did gain one goal when Makhiya M
cDonald was on the end of a long cross into the 18-yard box and sent the ball into the net. Arsenal FC’s Kayla Colbert tallied five goals, while Nicole Dallin added two for the match.
In 16U Black Division play, two-time defending National Champion Nationals Union 01 Black (MI) kicked off the first day of National League play with a 3-0 win over Beadling 2001 Elite (PA-W). Nationals Union applied the pressure early with Paige Webber and Madison Medalle driving the offensive push, taking back-to-back shots on goal. Meanwhile, Beadling nearly opened the scoring with a couple long shots outside of the 18-yard box. In the 16th minute, Nationals Union took the lead when Medalle took a shot that was blocked, and Arianna Jalics followed it to convert the goal. In the second half, Nationals Union continued to maintain the possession, and Medalle was able to make it a 2-0 game with a goal in the 51st minute. Although Beadling pushed to get on the board, Nationals Union searched for extra breathing room and earned it, as Jalics scored her second goal of the game in the 76th minute.
An even 16U Blue Division match between Michigan Jaguars 01 Green (MI) and 2015-16 National League division champions 2001 Tennessee SC Showcase (TN) led to a 1-1 tie. Michigan Jaguars came out of the gates early as they broke through Tennessee SC’s defense, and Sarah Noonan scored a goal in the third minute. Tennessee SC responded by creating opportunity after opportunity, and they came close with a shot from the top of the 18-yard box that hit the crossbar, as well as a shot that was poked just wide of the goal. After keeping the possession throughout the beginning of the second half, Tennessee SC’s Anna Haddock dribbled through Michigan Jaguars’ defense and shot the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal. While Tennessee SC showed determination to take the lead, Michigan Jaguars picked up the pressure. Michigan Jaguars nearly found the winning goal when the ball was crossed in and a volley sent the ball off of the left post. After a full 80-minute match, the score finished tied at 1-1.
The defending Region I Champions, HBC Impact 00 (NY-E), picked up a 2-0 win over Cleveland FC (OH-N) on Thursday. Lindsay Wright keyed the victory and got a big day started with a 17th-minute strike. That goal held up for much of the game, as the HBC defense held Cleveland in check. Wright sealed the game with a second tally in the 78th minute, as she hit home a loose ball following a corner kick to help HBC to the 2-0 win.
In a rematch of the 2015 National Championship semifinals, FC Pride 00 Elite (IN) came out strong to defeat Dallas Kicks SC 00 (TX-N), 3-0, in 17U Red Division play. It took just three minutes for the Indiana side to grab a lead, as Heather MacNab found the back of the net to put FC Pride in front. The Pride doubled its lead shortly before halftime thanks to a Jennifer Utzinger strike. Elizabeth Jacobson added some breathing room for the Pride with an Elizabeth Jacobson goal, and the Indiana side held off late chances from the Kicks to come away with the 3-0 victory.
In the 18U Black Division, defending Region III Champion Florida Krush Black (FL) began its season with a convincing win over SDFC 1999 Yellow (NJ). The Krush forced the issue in the 30th minute when a player was taken down, resulting in a red card for SDFC and a penalty kick for Florida. Kara Kyramarios converted the ensuing attempt to put her side up, 1-0. The Krush made use of the player advantage and doubled the lead just before half with a Jordan Diverniero goal. Madison Allen added to Florida’s lead with a blast to the near post in the 61st minute. A quick pair of goals by Shayla Smart and a late Meghan Mosley strike capped the big win to give Florida three points to open the weekend.
A pair of 2015-16 National League division runners-up each picked up a point on Thursday, as FCKC Academy Blues Elite 99 (MO) and Albion SC White (CA-S) played to a scoreless tie in 18U White action. Albion generated several second-half corners and pressure — twice hitting the woodwork with near-misses. FCKC forward Brionna Halverson looked dangerous on several counter attacks but couldn’t get an open shot as the Albion defense recovered well. The teams settled for a point each to open their seasons, as they finished in the scoreless draw.
In the 19/20U age group, both 2016 National Championship finalists came away with narrow victories. Defending champs YMS Premier Xplosion 98 (PA-E) earned a 1-0 result in the Red Division, while Beach FC 98 Academy (CA-S) picked up a 2-1 win to open Blue Division play.
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/