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ORLANDO, Fla. (Dec. 28, 2018) — The 2018-19 US Youth Soccer National League season resumed league play Friday, as half of the boys teams in the 15U through 19U age groups competed at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla., alongside the Disney Soccer Showcase.
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. In addition to recruiting opportunities, the top finishers from each division will earn a ticket to the 2019 US Youth Soccer National Championships, making each match valuable to the teams’ fate as it could make or break their chance at competing for the National Championship.
The battle for positioning in the standings remains close, and there is still very little clarity at the top of most of the divisions. Friday saw several teams make important jumps in the standings by securing three points with wins.
Following his team’s 2-1 win on Friday, Luke Smith, goalkeeper for 19U Boys LMSC Rats (PA-E), was quick to point out the importance of each victory in the pursuit of the National League division title and berth to Nationals. With so much on the line, Smith said it creates a great environment to play soccer.
“It’s definitely the cream of the crop at National League. You don’t get competition like this everywhere,” Smith said. “You don’t get the looks from college coaches like you do here. The league is really competitive and there are a lot of good players here.
“A lot the players on my team and other teams are committed to great colleges. If these are the kind of players who are committed, it is a great preparation for the next level.”
After Friday’s action, teams competing in Orlando have a lead of two points or less in 12 of the 18 divisions in the 15U-19U Boys age groups, while just two divisions have a current leader more than three points in front of second place.
Following the boys weekend in Orlando, half of the girls teams in the 15U through 19U age groups will compete in their second event of the season, Jan. 19-21 at the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. The National League teams that do not play in either of the Florida events will compete in their second event of the season at the Players College Showcase in Las Vegas — with boys games held March 8-10 and girls games played March 15-17.
The teams competing in Orlando will continue play with games on Saturday. 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…
Following a scoreless first half, PPA KSA 04 Pro-Profile (GA) scored three unanswered goals to earn a shutout win against PA Dominion 04 (PA-E). Emanuel Michael put KSA in front with a 45th-minute goal, and minutes later Alphonso Moni converted a breakaway chance — sticking with the play after the PA keeper made the initial save — to push the Georgia side’s advantage to 2-0. Pasco Wea Ombeni added an insurance goal in the final minute to seal the 3-0 victory for KSA, which now has six points in the 15U Black Division.
Libertyville FC 1974 Elite (IL) and GPS NY Regional Team (NY-W) each entered Friday’s matchup looking to gain on the 16U Blue Division leaders, but the teams had to settle for a point each as they played to a 1-1 tie. Antonio Ferraiolo Costa gave Libertyville a 1-0 lead when he found the back of the net in the 37th minute. That advantage proved to be brief, as Riley Warren replied with a goal just two minutes later to pull GPS level. The New York West side nearly grabbed a lead in the 46th minute following a quick counter attack. After a teammate did some nice work down the right wing, Warren ran onto a bouncing cross and struck a screaming half-volley that Libertyville keeper Nicholas Diana deflected off the crossbar to keep the score even at 1-1. Neither side managed to produce a winner in the final half hour of play, as the teams split the points with the draw.
In the 16U Red Division, OK Energy FC Central 03 (OK) bounced back from conceding an early goal to earn a 3-1 win against Syracuse Developmental Academy (NY-W). Syracuse grabbed a 14th-minute lead when Ethan Caruana hit a blast from the left side of the box that curled with pace into the far side netting. OK Energy regrouped and equalized on a Jared Estrada goal in the 29th minute. David Meacham put Oklahoma in front with a 65th-minute strike, and Fernando Saldana added an insurance goal shortly after to help OK Energy hold on for the 3-1 win, which helped it move to the top of the current Red Division standings.
Solar 02B Castro (TX-N) picked up its second 17U White Division win of the season on Friday, as it pulled away for a 6-2 win against Brausa 02 Blue (MD). Gabriel Rodriguez and Harvey Castro each found the back of the net early to give Solar a 2-0 lead after 12 minutes of play. The Maryland side pulled within one in the 29th minute when Taylor Calheira gathered the ball in the middle of the box and quickly placed a right-footed shot around the keeper and inside the right post. However, Solar extended its lead back to two goals through a short corner just before halftime. Jordan Munoz took the quick restart and chipped a ball to the back post, where Anthony Patti timed his run perfectly and headed it into the roof of the net — pushing the Solar lead to 3-1. Calheira once again pulled Brausa within a goal with a strike after halftime, but Munoz quickly answered with another tally for the North Texas side. Munoz later added another goal, and Castro capped the scoring with a late strike to seal the impressive Solar victory.
In the 17U Red Division, Baltimore Celtic 2002 (MD) and CUP 02 Gold (OH-S) played a back-and-forth game that ended in a 4-4 draw. Ben Damge gave CUP a fourth-minute lead when he floated a shot from a tight angle that snuck inside the far post. Spencer Hanks equalized for Celtic in the 29th minute, but CUP regained the lead after the break on a Henry Roetker goal. Baltimore again pulled even when Hanks found the back of the net once again in 51st minute, but CUP had another answer, as Luke Birdsong converted a penalty kick a few minutes later to put the Ohio South side up, 3-2. Hayden Cobbs quickly extended the CUP advantage with another tally, but Hanks completed a hat trick immediately after to pull Celtic within a goal at 4-3. The Maryland side completed its third comeback of the game in the 85th minute on a play that began with a run into the box by Alexander Grasso. He cut past a defender and slid a pass to Evan Conrad, who finished inside the left post for the goal the forced the 4-4 draw.
A pair of second-half goals helped FC Dallas 01 Premier (TX-N) come away with a 2-0 win against OBGC Rangers Blue 2001 (MD) in 18U Black Division action. After a scoreless opening half, Javier Solis put FC Dallas in front in the 52nd minute, as he used a first time shot to hit a bouncing ball through traffic and into the back of the net. OBGC looked threatening at times, as it looked for an equalizer, but the North Texas side stayed organized in the back and kept the Rangers from breaking through. FC Dallas sealed the game with a stoppage-time goal, as Alejandro Tellez cut inside the last defender and calmly slid his shot past the keeper to lock up the 2-0 victory. The win pushed FC Dallas to the top of the current Black Division standings.
PPA KSA 01 Pro-Profile (GA) picked up its third win in as many 18U Blue Division matches with a 3-0 result against Rise SC 01 Elite I (TX-S). The Georgia side needed little time to grab an advantage, as Deedson Vixamar scored in the third minute. The potent KSA forward scored his second goal of the game — and seventh of the season — in the 19th minute to double his side’s advantage. Junior Saint Juste added a third goal for KSA in the 45th minute, and the Georgia side’s defense secured its second clean sheet of the season to clinch the 3-0 win.
A frantic finish resulted in LMSC Rats (PA-E) earning a 2-1 win over FC Dallas 00 Premier (TX-N) in 19U Red Division action. LMSC grabbed a lead just five minutes into the contest on a Scott Marshall goal, and the Rats held on to that slim advantage for much of the game. However, FC Dallas tied the score in the 85th minute when Joel Ameke followed up an initial shot that rattled the crossbar and headed the rebound into an open net to equalize. The Rats answered in the 90th minute, as Philip Burckhardt got behind the FC Dallas defense and slid a shot that squeezed under the charging keeper and slowly trickled for the goal line. The Rats’ Jacobe Sandcroft beat everyone to the slow-rolling ball and hammered it into the net to put LMSC up, 2-1. LMSC goalkeeper Luke Smith preserved the one-goal lead in the dying seconds with a sprawling fingertip save on a blast from an FC Dallas player that was tracking for the upper 90. The late winner helped LMSC remain unbeaten and untied atop the Red Division standings.
Keep up with the National League all season:
National League Home: USYouthSoccer.org/National_League
Schedule and results: USYouthSoccer.org/tournaments/2018-19-National-League/