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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (Dec. 14, 2019) — Following more exciting National League action on Saturday, just one more day of play remains in Panama City Beach, Fla. Saturday saw the 17U-19U Boys wrap up their opening week of the season, while the 15U and 16U Boys each have one more match remaining in Panama City Beach.
Two points or less separate the top two teams in six of the eight divisions in the 15U and 16U Boys age groups, and three of the divisions contain ties atop the standings.
Playing in its first National League season, 15U Future SA 05 (NJ) has secured two wins and a draw from its opening three games — putting the New Jersey side at the top of the White Division. Future SA coach Riza Uku said the high level of play initially “shocked” his team, but he is happy with the way his players have adjusted to playing in the National League and learned how to adjust to various styles of play.
“The biggest thing here, especially playing in this high level competition, is getting mentally strong,” Uku said. “What our players have done well — even when going down — is never giving up. Playing against teams who are as good as you or are better than you, and you are still not giving up.
“That’s mentally preparing players and showing that, if you want to play at a higher level, you’ve got to be mentally strong.”
In the 17U-19U age groups, the first place team’s lead in just one point or less in seven of the 10 divisions and no division features a lead of more than three points at the top. With the division races so tight in those age groups, there will be plenty of exciting and meaningful matches when the teams resume play in either Tampa, Fla., or Las Vegas.
In addition to berths to the annual US Youth Soccer National Championships and recruiting opportunities, National League teams in the 14U-18U age groups are also competing for a chance to re-qualify for the National League’s 2020-21 season.
National League action will continue Sunday, Dec. 15, as the 15U and 16U Boys teams each play their fourth 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 notes from Saturday’s matches…
- Twelve of the 16 games in the age group were decided by two goals or less on Saturday.
- The Black Division is the only one in the age group with multiple 3-0-0 teams, as Olympiacos FC B05 Academy (CA-S) and Players SC 2005 Boys Elite (NV) are tied atop the standings with nine points.
- Defending National Champion Libertyville FC 1974 Elite (IL) has seven points after it picked up two straight wins following a first day tie with Future SA 05 (NJ). USA Premier 05 Angeletti (UT) leads the White Division a 3-0-0 record.
- Enrique Reyes-Avila of Players SC 2005 Boys Elite (NV) scored four goals on Saturday and is now tied for the leading scorer in the age group. Timothy Griffin of KHA 05 Red (KY) scored twice on Saturday, and Fabian Orozco of Olympiacos FC B05 Academy (CA-S) scored a hat trick. All three players have six goals on the season. Corbin Jefferson of 05 PGSA Stars (NC) also netted a hat trick on Saturday.
- Nine of 16 games in the age group were decided by two goals or less on Saturday.
- Just two teams in the 16U age group have come away with wins in each of their first three games. PPA KSA 04 Pro-Profile (GA) leads the Black Division with a 3-0-0 record, while defending National Champion Real Jersey FC (NJ) has a perfect record so far in the White Division.
- Midwest United FC 04 Royal (MI) has seven points to lead a tight Red Division, where five teams are within two points of the top of the standings.
- Adrian Figueroa of Downtown LVSC 04 Gold (NV) was the only player in the age group to score a hat trick on Saturday.
- Eleven of the 16 games in the age group were decided by two goals or less on Saturday.
- SLSG 2003 Elite (MO) is the lone team in the age group that has yet to concede a goal, as it won all four games this week. It is currently tied for the lead in the Black with Midwest United FC 03 Royal (MI), which is also 4-0-0.
- OK Energy FC Central 03 (OK) leads a very tight White Division race with nine points after four games. The division features five teams with at least seven points — all within two points of the top of the standings.
- Oliver Sheikhli of Triangle United SA 03 Wake Blue (NC) netted a hat trick on Saturday. He is one of four players in the age group with five goals on the season.
- Twelve of the 16 games in the 18U age group were decided by two goals or less on Saturday.
- Two of the three 4-0-0 teams in the age group come from the Red Division, where Michigan Jaguars 02 Green (MI) and Arlington SA 2002 Red (VA) lead the group. Baltimore Celtic 02 (MD) won a matchup of unbeaten Black Division teams on Saturday, leaving the Maryland side is alone in first place in that group.
- The parity of the National League is on full display in the 18U Boys age group, where the returning division winners have combined for six wins, seven losses and three draws during play in Panama City Beach.
- Bennett Pauls of SC Wave Juniors 02 Boys (WI) scored a hat trick on Saturday and is now tied for the leading scorer in the 18U Boys age group with six goals. Shion Soga of Michigan Jaguars 02 Green (MI) also has six goals.
- Four of the eight 19U Boys games on Saturday were decided by one goal or less.
- OC Surf Armour 2001 (CA-S) is the lone team in the age group that has won all four of its games to start the season — putting the Cal South side alone in first place in the Blue Division.
- LVU-FPA 2001 Boys Black (PA-E) is the only other unbeaten team, as it has compiled three wins and a draw to build an early lead in the Red Division.
- Carter Houlihan of LVU-FPA 2001 Boys Black (PA-E) netted a goal in his team’s 2-1 win on Saturday, pushing his total for the week to an age group-best six goals.
Keep up with the National League all season:
National League Home: USYouthSoccer.org/National_League
Schedule and results: https://www.usyouthsoccer.org/tournaments/2019-20-national-league/