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LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. (Jan. 19, 2019) — The 2018-19 US Youth Soccer National League season resumed play Saturday, as half of the girls teams in the 15U through 19U age groups competed 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 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 little clarity at the top of most of the divisions. After Saturday’s action in Florida, the top two teams in 14 of the 18 divisions in the 15U-19U girls age groups playing in Florida are separated by three point or less.
In the 17U Blue Division, PSA National 02 (NJ) entered the weekend with a narrow lead atop the standings but three teams within two points. Facing one of the teams on its heels, the New Jersey side picked up a key win to begin play in Florida.
“We’ve been in the National League for a couple seasons now, and we know every game is very difficult,” PSA coach Massimo Cedraschi said. “Our group is extremely tight. It’s a battle every single game. That’s the beauty of the National League. We love to be here because the competition is always very strong.”
Like each National League team competing in Florida, PSA National 02 is not only fighting for a division title — it is aiming to punch a ticket to the National Championships.
“As a coach, it’s sometimes difficult to find the right words to motivate the players,” Cedraschi said. “Having the National Championships as the ultimate goal in the structure of the National League helps in giving that motivation and keeps the teams focused and ready for the competition.”
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 reimagined US Youth Soccer Leagues Program also includes a new multi-state tier with a network of 13 high-level competitive conferences throughout the country. In 2018-19, the conferences will provide opportunities for qualification into the 2019 US Youth Soccer Regional Championships, as well as the 2019-20 National League.
The teams competing in Lakewood Ranch will continue play with games on Sunday. 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…
In the 15U Red Division, Philadelphia SC Coppa Swarm 04 (PA-E) picked up a 1-0 win over CUP 04 Gold (OH-S) to move to the top of the current standings. Philadelphia put the pressure on from the first whistle and threatened the CUP goal in the early portion of the match. Coppa came close to a breakthrough in the 23rd minute, but a shot rang off the crossbar and a CUP defender cleared a follow-up attempt off the line. Philadelphia kept pushing for the opening goal in the second half and once again came close in the 55th minute, as a shot from the top of the box skipped off the left post. The Eastern Pennsylvania side finally grabbed the lead in the 66th minute, as Lauren Sullivan sent a free kick over the wall and off the keeper’s fingertips to give Philadelphia the 1-0 victory.
SC Waukesha 04 Blue (WI) secured a third win in as many games with a 3-0 victory over Gretna Prima Green 04 (NE). The Wisconsin side began the game with an edge in possession, and 10 minutes into the match, the age group’s leading scorer, Kayla Budish, fired a shot from the left side, only for Gretna keeper Jenasy Schultz to push the shot wide. Budish would get the best of the second exchange after the forward got on the end of a through-ball and slotted home her seventh goal in three games to put SC Waukesha up 1-0. Budish was at it again early in the second half when a pass from Zoe Hevey released Budish on the right side. Budish’s attempted cross ricocheted off a defender and found the back of the net to double SC Waukesha’s lead. Budish connected on a cross in the 65th minute, and Elena Zuchowski finished a point-blank shot to net SC Waukesha’s third and final goal. Jessica Madott and Sydney Zabloudil would send shots on net for Gretna, but the group leaders would ultimately preserve its second shutout in three games.
Arlington 2003 Red Preacademy (VA) and 03 CSA South Elite (NC) each picked up a point with a draw on Saturday, as both teams look to move up the 16U Red Division standings this weekend. Neither side managed to break through, as the game moved into its late stages. In the 70th minute, CSA high pressure forced a turnover, but Arlington recovered win a challenge just outside its own penalty area — regaining possession amid CSA appeals for a free kick. Arlington quickly began a counter attack the other way, but it couldn’t get enough of a redirection on a header to find the goal. With the wind at its back, CSA kept the ball in its attacking half for a good portion of the final minutes, but Arlington prevented any clean looks at goal. The teams finished in a scoreless draw to split the point in the standings.
PSA Nationals 03 (NJ) and Nationals Union 03 Black (MI) met in a battle of unbeaten teams, and both remained without a loss after the match ended in a 2-2 draw. Nationals Union began the scoring in the 16th minute, when Allison Orsargos flicked a cross in the path of Mia Leonetti, who slipped her shot past the keeper to put the Michigan side up 1-0. Leonetti had a part in the her side’s second goal in the 54th minute when she broke away down the left flank before finding Marissa Metzger, who converted her scoring chance on a wide open net. Lauren Belcuore would pull one back for PSA after her shot found Nationals Union’s keeper Tobi Whitmore’s hand, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the strike from finding the back of the net. Nationals Union looked to be holding on to the 2-1 lead, but in the final minute of play, Claire Mulvihill would head home a corner-kick to knot the match up at 2-2. PSA and Nationals Union sit in second and third place in the 16U Girls White Division standings, respectively, and both sides have yet to play Lou Fusz 03 Blue (MO), which currently leads the division with a 5-0-0 record.
In the 17U Blue Division, PSA National 02 (NJ) maintained its slim lead atop the tight standings with a 2-0 win against Nationals Union 02 Black (MI) on Saturday. The New Jersey side produced immediate pressure and kept Nationals keeper Maddison Dolenga busy with some early attempts on goal. PSA eventually broke through in the 23rd minute when Mary Clare Langan found the back of the net, and it held on to that lead for nearly an hour of play. In the 82nd minute, Julia Eichenbaum moved around a defender at the top of the box and chipped a shot inside the right post to double the PSA advantage. The New Jersey side held on to that lead to pick up its third win of the season.
A scoring outburst on either side of halftime helped North Shore United 2002 Blue (WI) earn a 5-2 win against YMS Premier 2002 (PA-E) in 17U White Division action. YMS held a lead for much of the first half after Brooke Strobel opened the scoring in the 18th minute. However, Maddison Baker netted an equalizer just before the break to pull North Shore level. The Wisconsin side built off that momentum to begin the second half, as Baker scored her second goal to put North Shore in front. A Madeline Paulson goal was sandwiched between two quick Zoey Memmel strikes to give North Shore breathing room. Katie Sullivan pulled a goal back for YMS in the 59th minute, but North Shore held on to pick up the victory and remain undefeated in league play.
Local side FC Florida 2001 Elite Blue Predators (FL) rebounded from an early one-goal deficit to hand FC Frederick 01 (MD) its first loss of the National League season. FC Frederick’s Sarah Hohn broke the scoreless stalemate just three minutes into the match with her age-group leading seventh goal, but Mackenzie Fazio would respond for FC Florida right before halftime after Nicole Vernis teed her up off a set piece for a goal from outside the box. The second half belonged to FC Florida as Alyssa Wilson and Tianna Hogan combined for three goals and three assists to give the FC Florida a 4-1 win.
MapleBrook Fury (MN) remained atop the 19U Blue Division with a 5-0 win over Arlington 00/01 Red to open play this weekend. Sarah Johnston began the scoring after getting on the end of a cross from Karina Gilson in the 18th minute. Linnea Yacovella would begin the second half by netting goals in the 46th and 54th minutes to make the lead three goals, and Lauren Roberts would add an additional insurance goal to wrap up the win. MapleBrook will next play Princeton SA (NJ) in a battle of teams at the top of the Blue Division with 4-1 records.
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/