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WILSON, N.C. (Nov. 29, 2018) — The top teams in the country showcased their talent Thursday as several energetic matchups got the 12th season of US Youth Soccer National League Girls play underway in Wilson, N.C., and Rocky Mount, N.C. All of the teams in each of the 16U, 17U, 18U and 19U Girls age groups began the 2018-19 National League season at the Wilson Gillette Soccer Complex and Rocky Mount Sports Complex.
Following this opening 16U-19U Girls event, all 14U-15U Girls teams and 14U-19U Boys teams in the National League will kick off their season next week, beginning on Dec. 6.
National League teams earn their place in the league based on a proven track record of success in US Youth Soccer’s top competitive programs 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 Overland Park, Kan.
More than 225 college coaches lined the sidelines on Thursday and many more are expected to attend this National League weekend to scout some of the top teams and players in the country. The competitive level of each game adds to player evaluation, as every team has to earn their place in the league, regardless of location or club affiliation.
“We come into the National League with twofold [the objectives]. One, from a team dynamic to meet our goals and expectations,” 18U Mandeville SC Lakers Elite (LA) coach Betsy Jacketti said. “Also, from and individual standpoint, it’s a great opportunity for our players to get exposure at this level. You can see on any field, they’re lined with college coaches.”
Mandeville made the most of its opportunity as a team on Thursday, as it earned a 3-2 win to start its season. After winning the 2018 US Youth Soccer Southern Regional Championship, Mandeville is excited to compete in the National League and have another shot at earning a berth to Nationals.
“Win, loss or tie, we told the girls this competition makes us better as individuals and from a team dynamic. To come out with a win makes it even better,” Jacketti said. “We’re super excited to be here. It’s an honor to represent our club and the state of Louisiana in the National League. We wish we could get these kind of games week in and week out.”
National League action will continue Friday, Nov. 30, as the 16U-19U Girls teams play their second game of the season. 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 Thursday's matches…
Lou Fusz 03 Blue (MO) started its White Division campaign strong with a 5-0 victory over Beadling 03 Girls – South Red (PA-W). Beadling started the game off as the aggressors but couldn’t find any success in the final third early in the first half. Lou Fusz settled in and started to control the game, but Beadling’s goalkeeper, Emma Sawich, made a couple huge saves to keep the score level early. Sawich made a great one-handed save on a close-range chance and then parried a chance with a diving two handed save. Lou Fusz’ Chloe Netzel opened the scoring in the 12th minute, finishing a chance to the back post, and Brynna Rutherford made it 2-0 as she ripped a shot that deflected off a Beadling defender, off the post and in. In the second half, Julia O’Neill found Netzel with a pass, and she got beyond the defense to score her second. Beadling had a chance to pull one back on a breakaway but the opportunity was chased down by Kelsey Kehoe, who broke up the play. Megan Jette added the final two goals of the game, with a rocket under the cross bar and then a finish off a nice passing sequence.
In a Blue Division game that could have gone either way, PacNW 03 Maron (WA) and Michigan Jaguars (MI) played to a 0-0 draw on the first day of play. After a scoreless first half, each team continued to look for ways to answer the opposing team’s defense. PAC’s Chloe Capriotti was close to giving her team the lead in the second half, but Isabella Koje put great pressure on the chance and caused the shot to go wide. PAC’s Kelly Hickey gave her team great attacking and defensive pressure up the left flank, but the Washington team never found the right final touch in the Jaguars final third. The Jaguars best look on goal came as Olivia Engler flew up the right flank beyond a couple PAC defenders but her shot sailed just wide of target. The tie gives each team a point as the teams will look to build off their opening result.
Sparta FC 02 Elite (TX-N) used a two-goal first half to guide itself to a 3-1 victory over Beadling North Red (PA-W) in Red Division action. Sparta’s Kayla Smith put her team up in the 9th minute of play before Jayden Lopez added a second for the North Texas side in the 33rd minute to earn her team a 2-0 cushion headed into halftime. In the second half, Sparta continued to put on the pressure. Savanna Riggs turned a defender, but Beadling’s Paige Miller made the save from close range. Beadling cut the lead to one when Emma Bundy found Jayden Sharpless with a pass and Sharpless made no mistakes sliding her shot under the onrushing keeper. Sparta regained its two-goal cushion when Maycie Massingill smacked a low blast through a crowd of players. The goalkeeper was shielded from the shot and didn’t see it until too late, as the shot snuck into the back of the net. Sparta kept pressing for yet another, but Miller made a diving fingertip save to give her team a chance to fight back. Sparta’s defense held strong and they earned three points on the opening day as they look to return back to the US Youth Soccer National Championships for a second consecutive year.
YMS Premier 2002 (PA-E) defeated LA Galaxy San Diego (CA-S) 4-2 to earn three crucial points with a first day win. YMS’ got on the scoreboard first as Gina Sexton put her team up 1-0 in the 17th minute. Galaxy didn’t waste any time leveling the score with Hanna Ghassemian finding the back of the next just four minutes later. YMS took the lead into the second half as a great cross into the box found Paige Addis for a header goal. YMS’ Kendall Palatine and Emily Tantala pushed the lead to 4-1 as the Eastern Pennsylvania side started to run away with the game. LA Galaxy turned on the pressure late and pulled one back as a shot from Liliana Medrano went off the keeper’s hands and in. LA tried to press for more goals but it couldn’t find any more shots on target as YMS’ defense held on through the pressure.
A couple of late goals helped SGV Surf 01 (CA-S) come back for a 3-2 win against KC Athletics Academy Elite 01 (MO) to kick off Blue Division play. Sydni Bolewski gave KC Athletics early momentum with an 11th-minute goal that stood as on the only goal into the second half. Surf equalized in the 53rd minute, as Natalie Turiace gathered a bouncing ball following a cross from the left wing and placed her shot into the net. However, KC immediately responded and Karoline Nelson slid a left-footed shot inside an open far post to help the Missouri side regain its lead. Ruby Fernandez pulled Surf back even in the 83rd minute with a perfectly weighted shot from distance that flew over the keeper and dipped inside the far post. The Cal South side netted a winner in stoppage time when Alana Diaz ran onto a ball behind the defense and slotted a shot into the corner — giving Surf the 3-2 win.
A back-and-forth match saw Mandeville SC Lakers Elite (LA) come away with a 3-2 win over 01 CSA South Elite (NC) to open up Red Division action. Mandeville jumped in front in the 24th minute on an Aubrey Olin goal, and Malia Cazalot made it 2-0 with a strike before halftime. CSA cut the lead in half after the hour mark with a Grace Wielechowski tally, but Mya Guillory responded 12 minutes later when she hit a shot from distance that dipped into the right upper-90 — giving the Louisiana side a 3-1 advantage. Sophia Demark pulled CSA back within one in the 85th minute when she ran on to a loose ball after a diving save and slid her follow-up inside the left post. Mandeville held off late tying attempts to earn three points to start its Red Division campaign.
The opening day of Blue Division play featured a matchup of teams who are each coming off a trip to the 2018 National Championships in Sunrise Sting 2000 (FL) and Princeton SA (NJ). Sunrise, the defending National Champions, used an early strike to earn a 1-0 win in a tightly contested match. It took just five minutes for Liliana Fernandez to find the back of the net and put the Florida side in front. Sunrise nearly doubled its advantage in the 60th minute, but Princeton keeper Isabella Castagnetti quickly rose up to tip a shot from distance over the bar. Sunrise keeper Jonelle Barron equaled Castagnetti 15 minutes later by coming up with a pair of saves on shots from the center of the box to keep her side in the lead. In the end, the early goal form Fernandez stood up as Sunrise Sting opened its week with the win.
In the Red Division, Campton United Red (IL) came away with a 2-0 win against Pipeline 2000 Pre-Academy (MD) on Thursday. The Illinois side came out strong and gained an early lead on a Saydie Holland strike. In the seventh minute, Holland received a cross from Claudia Najera and finished it from the top of the box. Campton, the 2018 National Championship finalist, continued to keep the majority of play in its attacking half but Pipeline did well to keep the score 1-0 at the break. The Maryland side pushed for an equalizer in the second half, but Campton capped its 2-0 victory with an insurance goal from Paige Miller in the 79th minute.
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/