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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 17, 2018) — The US Youth Soccer National League 14U, 15U, 16U, 17U and 18U Girls continued league play Saturday at the Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex in Las Vegas, Nev., alongside the 2018 Players College Showcase. The girls will wrap up the season on Sunday, as the standings will be solidified and the final tickets to the 2018 US Youth Soccer National Championships will be secured.
After five berths to the National Championships were determined Friday, eight teams secured their ticket to Frisco, Texas, on Saturday — with four of those sides clinching division titles. However, the top of many group standings are still in question, as seven National League division titles will be decided on the season’s final day.
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). Aside from earning a ticket to Nationals, the top finishers each age group also have a chance to earn their automatic return to the league for the 2017-18 season.
On Saturday, nearly every field and time slot featured games carrying huge influence on the top of the standings, while the sidelines were filled with teams warming up to the sound of music in preparation of their own key matches.
Among Saturday’s division winners, 16U Fullerton Rangers 02 White (CA-S) picked up the win it needed and got a little help from the other Blue Division match that finished minutes after its victory.
“It’s a great experience for the girls, for myself, to be a part of the National League and make it to the National Championships. It’s just awesome,” Fullerton coach Cristian Rus said. “Coaching boys before, I’ve made it [to Nationals] with the boys, but with the girls, it’s just a different experience.”
“I’m excited for the whole process. It’s been a process, and we deserve it, so I’m excited for them and the experience they get to have at the National Championships.”
2018 US Youth Soccer National Championship Qualifiers via the National League
Blue Champion: CDA Premier 04 (KY)
Blue Runner-up: Michigan Jaguars 04 Green (MI)*
Red: Nationals Union 04 Black (MI)
Red: Arlington SA (VA)
Blue: PDA Shore Freedom (NJ)*
Red: CSA Impact United 03 Black (OH-N)
Red: LVPSA 03 Red (NV)*
Black Champion: La Roca-FD 02 (UT)*
Blue Champion: Fullerton Rangers 02 White (CA-S)*
Red Champion: SJEB Rush 02 Academy Blue (NJ)*
Blue Champion: FCKC Academy Blues Elite (MO)*
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 Sunday, March 18 at the Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex with games beginning at 7:30 a.m., 9:20 a.m., 11:10 a.m., and 1 p.m.
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 Saturday’s matches…
One more win was all CDA Premier 04 (KY) needed to secure the 14U Blue Division title, and it did just that on Saturday — claiming a 5-3 victory against LA Fire Jrs 04 Red (LA). CDA’s Kylie Hudgins launched a long shot toward the goal, and even though the LA Fire goalkeeper got a hand on it, the shot had enough power to make it into the net to give CDA the lead in the seventh minute. Two minutes later, the ball was played within the box to Morgan Gerak on the left side of the goal, who sent her shot into the opposite corner of the net, slipping the ball past the goalkeeper. Despite CDA gaining a 2-0 lead in the first nine minutes of the match, LA Fire did not make the rest of the game easy for the Kentucky side. Sophia Martin gained one back for LA Fire as she redirected a corner kick into the goal in the 22nd minute, yet CDA had the last say of the first half when Gerak placed a penalty kick to the bottom right corner of the goal. While CDA kicked off the second half strong with another goal from Hudgins, LA Fire earned its second goal when Halle Dixon blasted a free kick from the top right corner of the box, sending the ball to the top left corner of the goal. CDA increased its advantage once again when a Reese Carpenter shot from a difficult angle found its way into the back of the net, and although Martin was able to get LA Fire another goal near the tail end of the match, CDA ultimately won the back-and-forth battle.
Nationals Union 04 Black (MI) picked up its sixth win of the National League season, as it defeated Beach FC 04 (CA-S), 1-0. After Nationals Union secured a top-two spot in the 14U Red Division on Friday, the division title will be decided on Sunday as Nationals Union and Arlington — the first and second teams in the standings — will face each other. Nationals Union started off the match with a couple close chances, and it eventually executed one of them as Ella Offer finished the only goal of the game in the 22nd minute. It was a complete battle until the final whistle, as Nationals Union knew exactly what was on the line. Beach FC pushed hard and played the ball around in the second half. Its closest opportunity came when Riley Morris lofted a long ball to Camryn Cruz, who took the perfect touch to bring the ball down, but her shot rattled off the crossbar. In the end, it was Nationals Union who claimed the win.
In the 15U Blue Division, idle PDA Shore Freedom (NJ) secured a top-two finish, while the match between San Diego Soccer Club Academy-Navy (CA-S) and GPS Oregon FC Bayern 03 (OR) on Sunday will play a key role in determining the group’s other qualifier.
Meanwhile, LVPSA 03 Red (NV) secured a top-two finish in the 15U Red Division with its win on Saturday. Another victory on Sunday will give the Nevada side the division title, while CSA Impact United 03 Black (OH-N) will hold on to first if LVPSA drops points.
With a 3-0 win over YMS Premier 2002 (PA-E), La Roca-FD 02 (UT) captured the 16U Black Division title. La Roca came out with the mind to score as the team created numerous chances; it was just a matter of time before the Utah team would convert one. Caroline Stringfellow opened up the scoring for La Roca when she took a shot from a difficult angle on the left side of the goal, yet the ball took a deflection and landed in the back of the net. Two minutes later, Stringfellow added another goal as she found some space around a defender within the 18-yard box to strike the ball into the upper net. YMS added some pressure as it believed it wasn’t a finished game yet. However, La Roca tallied one more goal before the half when Kalea Woodyatt picked up the ball outside the box and floated the ball to the pocket of the goal’s top right corner. La Roca spent the second half calmly working the ball around and maintained the 3-0 lead for the victory.
In the 16U White Division, the spotlight was on a titanic matchup between the top two teams — Legends FC 02 Academy (CA-S) and Cleveland FC 02 Royal (OH-N). Legends had a chance to clinch the title with a win, but Cleveland game out firing and broke through in the 19th minute. Marion Blakemore played in a floating cross from the right wing, and Mary Santelli beat the keeper to the ball and nodded home the opening goal. Legends overcame the sting of that goal and produced an immediate reply when Ariyanna Buggs found the back of the net. The Cal South side later grabbed the lead when Jasmine Young’s 54th-minute shot from distance dipped under the bar. However, Cleveland stayed alive in the title race thanks to Peyton Felton, who volleyed in a late corner kick at the back post to force the 2-2 draw.
With a 2-0 win over Century V United 2002 Gold (PA-W) on Saturday, Fullerton Rangers 02 White (CA-S) secured a first-place finish in the 16U Blue Division. After a scoreless first half, the Cal South side grabbed a lead in the 44th minute when Melia Merritt redirected a low cross on goal and watched the ball find the back of the net after taking a deflection. Fullerton doubled its advantage later in the half when Taylor Ravelo headed home a corner kick at the back post to give her side some breathing room. The Fullerton defense recorded its fifth clean sheet of the season to make sure those goals held up in the 2-0 victory.
A pair of second-half goals fueled SJEB Rush 02 Academy Blue (NJ) to a 2-0 win against Sparta 02 Premier SP (UT) and the 16U Red Division crown. Little could separate the teams in the early portions of the match, as the teams entered the final 40 minutes in a scoreless tie. SJEB broke the deadlock in the 55th minute when Alyssa Monti snuck her shot in from the right side of the box. The New Jersey side attacked down the wings and added an insurance goal in the 70th minute. A low cross from the right side trickled past the first SJEB runner and onrushing keeper, but Giovanna Castorina placed the ball into the departed net to make it 2-0. SJEB’s defense continued its strong play to seal the shutout and division title.
Premier Navy 2001 (MD) moved into first place of the 17U Black Division standings after a 4-2 win against Santa Clara Sporting 01 Green (CA-N) — putting the team in a favorable position for claiming the division title. After 22 minutes of play, Premier Navy’s persistence paid off as a cross on the ground from the right flank found Madison Greenberg, who redirected the ball into the goal. Premier Navy continued its attacking opportunities and didn’t allow Santa Clara to take a breath. Early in the second half, the Maryland side increased its lead to two when Phoebe Canoles drove a low driven free kick into the mix of players for Madison Carr to volley into the net. Four minutes later, Elyssa Nowowieski received a ball across the goal, cut past the defender and placed the ball in the bottom right corner. Santa Clara was able to pull a couple goals back thanks to Alyssa Tinoco and Angela Ruvalcaba, but Canoles added a late extra goal for Premier Navy to keep the lead and eventually the win.
Playing for a shot to clinch the 17U White Division title, TFA Elite 01 (OH-S) came up short on Saturday in a 1-0 defeat to Celtic FC Premier SA (UT). The Ohio South side’s pursuit of first place got off to a rocky start when Celtic jumped in front on a 2nd-minute goal from Lily Haskins. TFA fought to get back in the game, but the Utah side managed to quell any dangerous moments while looking just as likely to get a second goal itself. However, the score remained unchanged for the final 88 minutes of play, as the early Haskins goal held up in the 1-0 Celtic win. Both sides, along with Legends FC 01 Academy II (CA-S), are in contention for the division title entering the final day of the season.
In the 18U Red Division, Scottsdale Blackhawks Taylor (AZ) needs a win on Sunday to win the group. Should the Arizona side drop any points, idle Sporting Omaha FC Elite 2000 (NE) will hold on for the title.
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/