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WILSON, N.C. (Dec. 3, 2016) — Just one more day remains in the opening weekend of the 2016-17 US Youth Soccer National League Girls season, with Sunday's matches solidifying team standings until the next meeting in Orlando, Fla., Dec. 31 - Jan. 2, 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 nine 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 10 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.
“I think it’s important that the games are meaningful — that the wins and losses are meaningful. We want to see kids play and compete at the highest level,” U.S. Soccer scout Luis Torres said. “I think it’s important to compete every time you step on the field. For U.S. Soccer, we want to see the kids at that highest competitive level that they can be at.”
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 Girls teams will wrap up their opening week of play on Sunday, Dec. 4, 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…
Legends FC 02 Academy 1 (CA-S) came away with a 4-1 win over SJEB Rush 02 Academy Blue (NJ) in a 15U Blue Division matchup. An early goal in the sixth minute from Lexie Yela got Legends started, and nine minutes later, Nadia O’Reilly made it a 2-0 lead. SJEB came out of halftime with a positive mentality, maintaining possession and attempting to get on the board. However, when Mya Daily crossed the ball back into the 18-yard box after a corner kick, O’Reilly was there to increase the Legends’ lead to three. SJEB cut into the Legends’ lead when a bouncing ball in the 18-yard box was volleyed into the net by Brianna Wons. Marissa Ortega’s upper net shot at the top of the 18-yard box in the 80th minute then topped off the victory for the Legends. Legends currently leads the Blue Division with a 2-0-1 record.
Florida Elite 2001 (FL) picked up an important three points in the 16U Black Division with a come-from-behind 3-2 win over SLSC Comos 01 Lawless (OK). Brielle Maloney helped Florida start off on the right foot with a goal just five minutes into the game. Kylee Wickersham answered shortly after for SLSC to tie the game at 1-1. The Cosmos rode that momentum and took the lead just before the halftime whistle on a Kelbie Washington strike. Florida Elite, the defending Region III Champions, responded under pressure with a pair of goals in the final five minutes. Tori Grambo first netted an equalizer in the 76th minute, and Maloney added her second — the game winner — three minutes later to help Florida to the 3-2 victory.
In the 16U Red Division, BRYC Elite Academy 01/02 (VA) was minutes away from its third win, but FC Elk Grove 02 Platinum 1 (CA-N) scored late to force a 1-1 draw. Lauren Teuschl found the back of the net in the 28th minute, and it appeared that goal would hold up as the game wore on. Elk Grove began to apply pressure and forced the BRYC keeper to make a nice save on a low drive in the 70th minute. The Cal North side created an equalizer in the 77th minute when a corner kick deflected off the keeper’s fingertips and was hammered home by Parker Sikora. A few late crosses into the penalty area by BRYC were cleared out, as the teams split the points with the 1-1 tie.
New Jersey Stallions Academy-Stampede (NJ) remained unbeaten in the 17U Blue Division with a 4-0 win over Washington Rush (WA). The Rush keeper made several early stops before the Stallions broke through in the 27th minute with an Ashleigh Sarafin strike. New Jersey doubled the lead in the 35th minute when Riley Hourihan sent a nice penetrating pass into the box, and Riley Hourihan used her first touch to fire a shot into the net. Washington couldn’t take advantage of several dangerous first half runs from speedy Trina Davis, and New Jersey extended its lead to 3-0 with a Jaime Walton goal shortly after halftime. Kaitlyn Hogan capped the win by drilling a half-volley inside the left post — helping New Jersey to the 4-0 victory.
After a fast-paced battle in the 17U Black Division, Princeton SA (NJ) came out with a 2-1 win over 00 TFCA Alliance (NC). TFCA began the game with an early drive, taking multiple shots on goal and earning corner kicks, but Princeton SA’s offense responded well by pushing forward. Leanna Rebimbas gave Princeton SA the advantage when she spun a defender and found an opening through the backline to place the shot in the bottom right corner of the goal. TFCA nearly tied up the game right after the goal when Emery Biggs sent the ball to the upper right portion of the net, but the Princeton SA goalkeeper made it there in time to tip the ball over the goal. In the second half, TFCA earned the equalizer when Emma Totten ran onto a through ball and chipped the goalkeeper. One minute later in the 78th minute, Rebimbas put the ball in the back of the net to ultimately win the match for Princeton SA. Princeton SA is now 3-0-0 after three days of National League play.
PDA Shore 99 (NJ) gave 2015 and 2016 National Championship finalist La Roca Premier PO (UT) all it could handle on Saturday, as the 18U Red Division two sides played to a 2-2 draw. PDA grabbed a lead just before half on an Amanda Verdoni goal. La Roca took control after halftime and eventually equalized in the 61st minute. After a near miss following some nice combination play, La Roca’s Olivia Wade retrieved the ball, worked her way into the box and placed a shot around the keeper to level the game at 1-1. Wade nearly put her side in front in the 69th minute, but her shot from 20 yards rattled the crossbar and stayed out. PDA made the most of its second half opportunities and regained the lead when Lindsay Bathmann got on the end of a cross and chipped a shot into the net. That appeared to be the winner, but Wade struck late in stoppage time with a great free kick that beat the wall and dipped just inside the left post.
In the 18U Blue Division, SC Waukesha 99 Blue (WI) and Cleveland FC (OH-N) played to a 2-2 decision. Despite the fact that Cleveland piled on the shots on goal and applied high pressure, Waukesha got on the board first as Mackenzie Schill crossed the ball into the 18-yard box for Haddie Carlson to volley the ball toward the goal. Cleveland responded immediately as Vanessa DiNardo finished a bouncing ball after a scramble in the 18-yard box. Cleveland gained the lead after a goal from Olivia Menssen in the 34th minute. After defeating a few defenders, Menssen took on a 1-on-1 with the Waukesha goalkeeper, who came off her line and nearly had a grip on the ball, but as the ball bounced past her, Menssen passed the ball into the goal. Just as Cleveland took control of the momentum, Waukesha’s Carlson snuck in an equalizer just before halftime. The second half took form in a different fashion as the score remained tied at 2-2 until the final whistle.
Defending National Champion YMS Premier Xplosion 98 (PA-E) stands on top of the 19/20U Red Division with three wins after defeating NTH Tophat 98 Gold (GA), 3-0. Meanwhile, NTH Tophat sits close behind in third with a 2-1-0 record. Meredith Webber scored the first goal in the 27th minute on Saturday and just two minutes later, Rebecca Rossett added a second. In the 73rd minute, Maddie Elwell topped off the game with the third goal for the 3-0 victory.
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/