The pursuit of the 18U Girls Black Division title will come down to two teams — one with its games completed and one with games left to play in Las Vegas. With four wins and three draws, Cleveland FC 02 (OH-N) did just enough to walk away from Lakewood Ranch at the top of the division standings. It will now wait to see if its 15 points are enough to keep it in first place when the season concludes following the games in Las Vegas.
Cleveland, the defending National Champions, finished with an identical record to current second-place side Legends FC Black (MI). The two teams played to a 1-1 draw when they met in their last match of the season — a result that allowed Cleveland to remain on top based on a goal differential tiebreaker. The Ohio North side’s attacking prowess proved to be the difference, as Cleveland netted 19 goals while conceding nine.
The lone team remaining that can pass Cleveland in the standings is Fullerton Rangers 02 White (CA-S), which is eight points back of the leader with three games to play. In a string of tight matches to start its season, Fullerton came away with two wins and a draw. The Cal South side will aim to continue picking up points, as it needs to win all three games to overtake Cleveland for first place in the Black Division.
Game to Watch
March 22, USA 02 Premier (UT) vs. Fullerton Rangers 02 White (CA-S)
For Fullerton, each game holds equal importance in its chase for the division title. If it is able to pick up victories in its first two matches of the weekend, this game on Sunday against USA Premier would present it with the chance to capture first place with a win. Meanwhile, the Utah side’s performance in North Carolina nearly set it up to contend for the division title, as well. USA Premier tied both of the teams currently tied atop the standings, as it picked up five points from its first four games. With similar results between them, it’s possible little will separate USA Premier and Fullerton when they meet on the field on the final day of the season.
Some strong early-season showings have left three teams with the opportunity to finish with some high point totals in the 18U Girls Blue Division. Team Chicago Academy-2002 Elite (IL) finished its season in Lakewood Ranch after compiling six wins and 18 points. While that total is oftentimes enough to win a division title, the Illinois side must wait to see how some games play out in Las Vegas before first place is decided.
Team Chicago’s string of league victories was built on strong defense, as it allowed just two goals from its seven games while building a lead in the division. One of the goals it conceded came in a 1-0 loss to Legends FC 02 Academy II (CA-S), which is currently 4-0-0 and the only team capable of surpassing Team Chicago’s 18 points in the standings. The Cal South side owns the most potent offense in the division, as it averaged more than three goals per game during the North Carolina weekend. It will now need at least two wins from its remaining three games to move to the top of the division.
Sparta FC 02 Elite (TX-N) is also alive in the division title hunt, but it will need to hope for a three-way tie at 18 points to have a chance. The North Texas side conceded just one goal in North Carolina — in a 1-0 loss to Team Chicago — and otherwise earned three shutout wins. Sparta will look to continue that strong play when it travels to Las Vegas to complete its season.
Game to Watch
March 20, Sparta FC 02 Elite (TX-N) vs. Legends FC 02 Academy II (CA-S)
The Blue Division gets off to a fun start on the first day of play in Las Vegas, as Sparta and Legends face off — both looking to begin what they hope is a run to the division title. Both sides will be looking to pick up all three points, something that is necessary to the North Texas side’s hope of finishing in first place. Legends has some margin for error but likely knows it can’t afford to let too many opportunities for points slip by it. If the Cal South side can secure a win or tie, the division title would come down to whether it can catch Team Chicago in the standings over the final two days in Las Vegas.
Six straight wins to start its season allowed Beadling 02G Showcase (PA-W) to secure a first-place finish in the 18U Girls Red Division prior to the conclusion of the weekend of play in Lakewood Ranch. With the top of the division solidified, the teams playing in Vegas will be looking to string together some results to climb in the standings and build some momentum for this spring’s competitions.
Beadling had a similar formula in each of its wins, as the PA West side allowed one goal in each of its six victories. At the same time, it excelled going forward and averaged three goals scored in each of those six contests. Its final two wins showed Beadling could handle some adversity, as it scored late winners in back-to-back 2-1 victories — including a game against Pipeline Pre-Academy 02 (MD) in which it trailed in the 82nd minute.
The PA West side’s lone loss came in its final game, as it came up short against Nationals Union 02 Black (MI). Nationals Union’s victory in that match guaranteed a second-place finish, as it wrapped up its season with 16 points in the standings.
Game to Watch
March 22, Sunrise Prime X1 (FL) vs. Covington FC Tammany Tigers 02/03 (LA)
Sunrise and Covington FC each had solid starts to the season, as they secured six and five points in the standings, respectively. Heading into the Las Vegas weekend, each side has the chance to finish as high as third in the Red Division, and they’ll meet on the final day of the season to determine exactly where each team winds up. Sunrise and Covington FC each advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2019 US Youth Soccer Southern Regional Championships, and both teams have the opportunity to find a good playing form as they prepare for potential runs in tournament season this year.
The top of the 18U Girls White Division is solidified after some strong performances by the teams that competed in Lakewood Ranch. North Shore United 2002 Blue (WI) earned the title of division champion, as it secured 18 points with wins in six of its seven league games. The Wisconsin side began the season with four straights wins during the event in North Carolina, where it put forth dominant efforts while scoring 17 goals and conceded none. North Shore had a hiccup in a loss to PSA National 02 (NJ) to begin its weekend in Lakewood Ranch, but it rebounded to win its final two matches to clinch a first-place finish in the White Division. In all, North Shore netted 23 goals and allowed just five in its seven games.
PSA National will finish in second place, as it picked up 14 points in the standings. The New Jersey side showed its potential in its win over North Shore — a 4-0 victory that temporarily put PSA at the top of the standings. The last two games of the season didn’t go its way, but PSA showed it can reach a level of play that will be tough to match for teams later this year in tournament season.
Game to Watch
March 22, WA Rush G02 (WA) vs. CDA Slammers HB G02 Elite (CA-S)
This matchup features a pair of West Region sides that could potential meet later in the year if they both make their way to the Far West Regional Championships. WA Rush and Slammers were each at Regionals a year ago, when the Slammers advanced to the quarterfinals. In the White Division, WA Rush is currently higher in the standings and has the opportunity to finish as high as third with a strong showing in Las Vegas. This matchup on the final day of the season will give each team a chance to finish the season strong and give the victor a momentum boost moving into the spring.