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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 16, 2018) — The US Youth Soccer National League 14U, 15U, 16U, 17U and 18U Girls resumed league play Friday at the Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex in Las Vegas, Nev., alongside the 2018 Players College Showcase.
The girls entered the final weekend of their season with 17 berths to the 2018 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 (14U and 15U age groups). The top finishers in each age group 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.
Five teams managed to secure berths to Nationals on Friday — leaving 12 tickets to the National Championships and 12 division titles to be decided over the weekend.
Just one side competing in Las Vegas — 18U HBC Impact 00 (NY-E) — managed to win its division title on Friday, while idle Princeton SA (NJ) also secured first place in its group based on the results within its division.
In many of the other matchups, Friday’s results provided clues as to which sides will finish in first place, as they gun for division titles and berths to the National Championships. One of the teams who has made a move to the top of its standings is 17U TFA Elite 01 (OH-S), which jumped to the top of the White Division.
“To slide into first in the standings here in National League is an unbelievable feeling,” TFA coach Jay Kiley said. “The girls have worked hard all season for this. We set goals at the beginning of the year, and this is definitely one of their goals.”
Like many of the teams competing in Las Vegas, TFA will be looking to build on the momentum it created on Friday as it prepares for big matches this weekend.
“Our plan for the next two games is to take it one game at a time,” Kiley said. “We know the National League brings nothing but the best competition. That’s why we enjoy coming here.”
2018 US Youth Soccer National Championships Qualifiers via the National League
Blue: CDA Premier 04 (KY)*
Red: Nationals Union 04 Black (MI)*
Red: Arlington SA (VA)*
Red: CSA Impact United 03 Black (OH-N)
Red Champion: BC United 01 (NY-W)
Black Champion: Campton United 1 (IL)
Blue Champion: Princeton SA (NJ)*
White Champion: HBC Impact 00 (NY-E)*
National League Girls action continues Saturday, March 17 at the Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex with games kicking off at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon 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.
Some highlights from Friday’s matches…
Nationals Union 04 Black (MI) secured a top-two finish in the 14U Red Division with a 3-1 win over Lonestar 04 TCL Composite (TX-S). It took just three minutes for Samantha Springer to give the Michigan side a lead, as she slotted a shot past the keeper and into the back of the net. Kylie Cesarek doubled the advantage in the 11th minute when she placed her shot into the upper-left corner. Springer pushed the lead to 3-0 later in the half before Ellen Freireich pulled a goal back for Lonestar in the 49th minute. Despite some late pressure from the Texas side, Nationals held on for the 3-1 victory to secure at least a second-place finish and a spot in the 2018 National Championships. Joining Nationals in Frisco, Texas, will be Arlington SA (VA), who also secured a top-two finish with a tie on Friday.
In the 14U Blue Division, CDA Premier 04 (KY) secured a top-two finish with a 2-0 victory over SDFC Yellow (NJ) on Friday. The Kentucky side applied some immediate pressure and almost broke through in the first few minutes, but the SDFC keeper got to the back post to deny an early chance. After pushing for an opening goal for more than an hour of play, CDA managed to break through for two quick strikes. Jada Moorman netted the key go-ahead goal in the 63rd minute, and she pushed the lead to 2-0 with a second strike just five minutes later. The Kentucky side’s defense, which has allowed just two goals through five games, held on for the clean sheet.
A scoreless draw in the matchup between Tennessee SC Showcase (TN) and San Diego Soccer Club ;Academy-Navy (CA-S) gave each side the point it needed to stay alive in the race for the 15U Blue Division title. San Diego had its share of chances, as it applied sustained pressure late in the first half. Jenna Eller played a diagonal ball that knifed through the Tennessee box and found Emily Brown, but her shot was smothered by the keeper. In the second half, Tennessee put the ball in the net following a corner but a foul call kept the game scoreless. Several late San Diego set pieces and build-up plays provided chances for breakthrough goals. The Tennessee defense looked like it may melt like candlestick under the pressure, but it remained solid and held on to earn a point in the scoreless tie.
Fullerton Rangers 02 White (CA-S) took over first place in the 16U Blue Division with a 4-0 victory over New Jersey Rush 02 Grey (NJ). Fullerton put New Jersey Rush under pressure from the beginning and went up 1-0 in the 16th minute when Mia Guererro picked up the ball at the top of the 18-yard box and drove the ball into the left upper net. The Cal South side increased its lead as Zoe Ip redirected a corner kick, and the ball bounced over the goal line. In the second half, New Jersey Rush gained an offensive rhythm with the understanding that the team could be back in the game with just one goal. However, Fullerton shut the offensive push down and extending its own lead as the New Jersey Rush goalkeeper got caught off her line, and Melia Merritt ran onto the ball for an easy tap-in. In the 76th minute, Fullerton completed the win with a goal from Collette Ledden.
Premier Navy 2001 (MD) was on the ropes but fought back to earn a 2-2 draw against Rebels 2001 Elite (CA-S) in 17U Blue Division action. The Cal South side went up just seconds after the opening whistle, as Nina Miller found the back of the net. Miller doubled the lead in the 32nd minute with her second goal of the half. Phoebe Canoles pulled a goal back for Premier when she ripped a shot from the top of box that had plenty of mustard and flew inside the right post. Eight minutes later, Madison Carr netted an equalizer to level the score at 2-2. The sides exchanged chances over the last 25 minutes of play, but neither could produce a winner as they settled for the draw.
With a 1-0 win over Legends FC 01 Academy II (CA-S), TFA Elite 01 (OH-S) slid into the first place spot of the 17U White Division standings. TFA created multiple opportunities, playing the ball around to inch closer to goal. The Ohio South side eventually broke Legends FC’s defense down in the 44th minute, as Elizabeth Flower earned TFA’s winning goal of the match. TFA kept up the pressure in the second half and could have gained another goal several times. Legends FC had a chance to tie up the game near the end, but a scramble in the 18-yard box led to a shot just over the crossbar — allowing TFA to hold on for the win.
Legends FC 00 South (CA-S) bounced back from a one-goal deficit to defeat Sunrise Sting 2000 (FL), 2-1, throwing a wrench in Sting's hopes of claiming the 18U Blue Division title. The ball traveled back and forth with chances on each side. Legends FC found itself in behind Sting’s defense a number of times, but Sting goalkeeper Elizabeth Matei made multiple consecutive saves to keep the team alive. Sting’s opportunities consisted of several long shots, but they were nothing that Legends FC goalkeeper Madelynn Meredith couldn’t handle. One of Sting’s long shots came to fruition as Liliana Fernandez launched a free kick from the left flank into the far right netting for the 1-0 lead. Determined to come back, Kamryn O’Brien tied up the match four minutes into the second half. The remainder of the second half brought many nerve-racking moments for both sides as each team came close to taking the lead. In the 89th minute, it was O’Brien who netted the game winner when the ball was cut across the goal for her to place in the net. As Sunrise Sting needed a win to keep the 18U Blue Division title undecided, idle Princeton SA (NJ) captured the division crown.
HBC Impact 00 (NY-E) is headed to the National Championships after a 3-1 victory against Legends FC 00 Academy 2 (CA-S). With the win and some help in the other division matchup, HBC took the 18U White Division title. The game looked like it was going to finish in Legends FC’s favor as it prevented HBC from going forward and created several dangerous opportunities of its own with Erin Covey involved in the majority of the plays. One chance came when Covey took on three defenders and snuck past them to blast a shot off the crossbar. Toward the end of the first half, the momentum switched over as HBC took some shots on goal and earned several corner kicks. HBC maintained that momentum in the second half and worked the ball around the field, eventually producing a goal in the 61st minute thanks to Isabelle Glennon. HBC went up 2-0 when Glennon ran onto a ball, and even though the Legends FC goalkeeper came off her line, Glennon got there first to slide the ball past her. Legends FC continued to compete and even got a goal back when Covey found herself in a 1-v-1 situation between her and the HBC goalkeeper, yet she remained calm and slotted the ball into the goal. In the 84th minute, Julianna Kissane scored an insurance goal as she received a short corner kick and lofted the ball to the far side netting just over the keeper’s hands.
Keep up with the National League all season:
National League Home: USYouthSoccer.org/National_League
Schedule & results: tournaments.usyouthsoccer.org/events/2017-18-National-League/