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LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. (Jan. 20, 2019) — The 2018-19 US Youth Soccer National League season continued Sunday, as half of the girls teams in the 15U through 19U age groups competed in their second game at the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. In addition to the National League matches, 22 US Youth Soccer National League Conference teams are competing in showcase games at the event.
The first two National League Girls teams clinched division titles on Sunday, as 16U Lou Fusz 03 Blue (MO) and 18U Premier Navy 2001 (MD) each secured first place finishes and punched a ticket to the 2019 US Youth Soccer National Championships.
The 18U Black Division title for Premier Navy marks the second straight first-place finish for the Maryland side after it topped the Black Division last season. It took a hard-fought draw against the second-place team on Sunday for Premier Navy to hold on for the clinching point in the standings.
“We are talking about almost being perfect because every game in the National League is like a final,” Premier Navy coach Val Teixeira said. “Every point matters, and that is what we look for each game.
“Last year was our first trip to the National Championships. We did extremely well, but we lost in the semifinals finals to the Rebels, which is an excellent team that won the championship. They gave us an open eye on what needs to be done to get there. We did have a good conversation after the semifinals, and we know what it takes to get there, and we are prepared and looking forward to the opportunity again.”
While Premier Navy is heading to Nationals as a National League champion for the second straight year, Lou Fusz 03 Blue is new to owning the title of National League division winner. The coach of the Missouri side, Caleb McKee, said his team understood the challenge it would take to reach this point when they kicked off their first National League season back in November.
“To be a National League champion takes something special,” McKee said. “We knew that coming in, and having done that today is a really special thing. It feels amazing, I couldn’t be happier for the girls. I’m so proud of everything they have done up to this point, and we are looking forward to this summer.”
The National League teams that do not compete in Florida will continue their season at the Players College Showcase in Las Vegas — with boys games held March 8-10 and girls games played March 15-17.
The National League features the top 348 US Youth Soccer teams in the 14U through 19U Boys and Girls age groups, and it provides an avenue for teams to play in meaningful matches against top competition from across the country for continued development. In addition to recruiting opportunities, National League teams compete for the National League title and one of four slots from each gender age group to the annual US Youth Soccer National Championships.
The teams competing in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., will wrap up the weekend with games on Monday, Jan. 21. 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 Sunday’s matches…
Sporting St. Louis Red Devils 2004 (MO) remained undefeated in the 15U Blue Division after a 1-1 draw with 2017-18 National League Blue Division champion CDA Premier 04 (OH-S). Sporting scored within the first 10 minutes for the fourth straight time when Brooke Kittner found the back of the net. Possession was even throughout the game in the back-and-forth affair. After a couple of close calls on corner kicks, CDA broke through with Jada Moorman’s goal right before halftime off a set-piece to knot the score at one apiece after the opening 40 minutes. Both sides would produce chances in the second half, with CDA unable to convert on a couple breakaways. Elizabeth Dreas got behind the Sporting defense in the closing minutes, but a diving save from keeper preserved the draw, and ultimately CDA’s first point in the competition.
The 2018 Midwest Regional Champions, Libertyville FC 1974 Elite (IL), moved into first place in the 15U Black Division with a 5-1 win against SDA Utica 04 Blasters (NY-E). Libertyville earned the first major scoring opportunity when Emily Fisher was taken down right outside of the box, and her ensuing free kick barely went over the crossbar. SDA responded five minutes later when a through-ball unlocked the Libertyville back line, and Meryn Dziemian found herself alone with the keeper and coolly converted the shot for the first goal. Just a minute later, Libertyville’s Avery Nielsen got free down the left side, cut her pass back into the middle of the box for Fisher, who took a touch before firing a left-footed shot in the goal. Fisher played the role of distributor in the 22nd minute when her pass found Meghan Mrowicki, who turned her defender before calmly slotting her shot into the far post. Libertyville added a third right before halftime courtesy of Samantha Pullins. The second half belonged to Libertyville in the scoring department, as Mrowicki completed a hat trick first off a strong individual effort, and second after slipping a shot past the keeper off a through-ball.
With a 1-0 win over CSAIU 03 NL Black (OH-N), PDA Shore Freedom (NJ) moved past idle San Diego Soccer Club Academy-Navy (CA-S) to take a temporary lead atop the 16U Blue Division. The New Jersey side moved the ball well early while looking to penetrate into the CSAIU penalty area. PDA managed to do just that in the 19th minute, and Olivia Denney placed a shot from the right side of the box past the keeper and into the net — giving PDA the 1-0 lead. The New Jersey side hung on for its second straight shutout to pick up the victory and take its spot at the top of the current standings.
In the 16U Black Division, SC Waukesha 03 Blue (WI) and 03 NCFC Elite (NC) battled to a 1-1 draw. The Wisconsin side took a slight edge in possession in the first half with most of their scoring chance coming from build-up on the sides followed by dangerous crosses into the middle of the box. The NCFC defense was able to handle all of the crosses except the final one of the half, which got by everyone except Waukesha’s Mary Quinn at the back post. She buried a shot to give her side a 1-0 lead right before halftime. NCFC had a couple of direct attempts from short-distance in the first half, but they were ultimately saved by Parker Donahugh. NCFC came out strong in the second half by producing multiple scoring chances, and their persistence paid off in the 58th minute when Ryan Markley’s long distant effort found the back of the net after hitting off Donahugh’s fingertips. Both sides traded opportunities, with the North Carolina side’s Hannah Hartel earning one of the most dangerous when her shot forced a point-blank save from Donahugh. However, neither side would find a late winner resulting in each team earning a point.
Defending National Champions SJEB Rush 02 Academy Blue (NJ) rebounded from its first National League defeat this season with a 1-0 win against 2018 Southern Regional Champion Sparta FC 02 Elite (TX-N) in a battle of the top two teams in the 17U Red Division. SJEB Rush’s Mackenzie Clement’s shot was tipped by Sparta keeper Damaris Dechaine and into the crossbar just 10 minutes into the game. SJEB Rush spent the majority of the first half playing in Sparta’s defensive zone, and SJEB would find the opening goal in the 39th minute off Brianna Wons’ deep free kick that found its way into the back of the net. Savannah Riggs created Sparta’s best scoring opportunity late in the first half when her shot forced a diving save from the SJEB Rush keeper. The second half saw the majority of play taking place in the SJEB Rush defensive zone, but a goal eluded the North Texas side as SJEB Rush remains in first place with one game to go.
In the 18U Blue Division, Nationals Union 01 Red (MI) earned a 1-0 win over Cleveland FC 01 Royal (OH-N) to move toward the top of the standings. Neither side managed to break through in the first half, as they went to the break with both teams in search of a key opening goal. Nationals Union managed to take the lead in the 66th minute when Chloe Barnthouse finished amongst traffic in the Cleveland box. The Michigan side’s defense made sure that goal held up, as it recorded its second shutout of the season to seal the victory. With the win, Nationals Union moved into a tie in points at the top of the group with idle Celtic FC Premier JR (UT).
As it has done all season, Premier Navy 2001 (MD) rode its stout defense to record a scoreless draw against second-place Nationals Union 01 Black (MI) to clinch the 18U Black Division title. The Michigan side, which needed a win to stay in contention for first place, pressured the Premier Navy back line for much of the second half. However, Premier Navy goalkeeper Alyssa Minnick was active around her area, and the rest of the defense did well to prevent any dangerous looks at goal. The Maryland side kept its fifth clean sheet of the season and earned the point it needed to seal division title.
Defending National Championships finalist Campton United Red (IL) earned a second straight shutout this weekend with a 3-0 victory against Austin Texans 01/00 (TX-S) in the 19U Red Division. Five minutes into the game, Hannah Rittenhouse narrowly beat the Texans keeper to a ball in the box, but the Campton captain’s shot resulted in a point-blank save. Campton had the advantage in possession, but the Texans back line and keeper held strong in addition to a few of Campton’s more dangerous attempts being thwarted early because of offside calls. The Illinois squad broke through in the 32nd minute, when Celeste Wahlberg dribbled along the right side, crossed to Natalie Massa, whose shot took a deflection off a defender and found the back of the net. The score remained 1-0 until in the 80th minute, when a high pass proved to be tough clear for the Texans back line. Saydie Holland would eventually get the ball at her feet before finishing past the oncoming keeper. Molly Grant added an insurance goal six minutes later when she volleyed in a low cross to create the final score of 3-0.
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/