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LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. (Jan. 12, 2020) — The US Youth Soccer National League Girls teams competing this week wrapped up their second event of the season on Sunday at the Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. The girls teams that did not play in Lakewood Ranch will resume their seasons March 20-22 in Las Vegas.
Sunday’s games in Lakewood Ranch also saw the 24 Conference teams wrap up their showcase games, as they competed alongside the National League at the Premier Sports Campus.
The third day of National League play in Florida saw six teams claim division titles, as they each finished their campaigns in first place and punched tickets to the 2020 US Youth Soccer National Championships.
Lou Fusz 03 Blue (MO) became the second defending National Champion to win a National League Girls division title this season — joining SC Wave 04 Blue Juniors (WI).
“It feels really good to get the result today,” Lou Fusz 03 center back Kelsey Kehoe said. “We won the National League title last year. To be back here, we had a target on our back. Everyone was coming for us, and we knew it would be hard but it feels really good to win the National League title.”
Lou Fusz has experience playing in several regional and national competitions in the past couple years, and Kehoe said the National League stands out as one that tests all teams who play in the competition.
“The National League competition is different from so many other competition,” Kehoe said. “You find people from all over the nation, and it shows how developed you are as a team and how hard you’re willing to work together.”
2020 US Youth Soccer National Championship Qualifiers via the National League
White Champion: TFA Elite 05 (OH-S)*
Blue Champion: CFC Redstar (GA)*
Red Champion: Libertyville FC 1974 Elite (IL)*
White Champion: SC Wave 04 Girls Blue Juniors (WI)
White Champion: Lou Fusz 03 Blue (MO)*
Red Champion: Beadling 02G Showcase (PA-W)
White Champion: North Shore United 2002 Blue (WI)*
Blue Champion: 1776 United FC 01 Xtreme (PA-E)*
All of the teams who have secured berths to the National Championships can now look ahead to preparations for the competition this summer in Overland Park, Kan.
“This means a lot. This is our club’s second National League title in two years, said Srgjan Smileski, whose Libertyville FC 1974 Elite (IL) team won the 16U Red Division. “The boys won last year and won a National Championship as a National League representative. We’re hoping to repeat the same thing and go as a National League team and try to go to Nationals and get a title this year.”
National League teams earn their place in the league based on a proven track record of success in US Youth Soccer regional and national competitions 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 plays into who represents the National League this summer in Overland Park, Kan. The National League division champions in the 14U through 18U age groups advance to Nationals, while the top two teams in each of the 19U divisions move on to Overland Park.
National League play will continue in March alongside the Players College Showcase in Las Vegas. Boys will play March 13-15, while the girls will follow with games March 20-22. 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…
TFA Elite 05 (OH-S) got the win it needed on Sunday to clinch the 15U White Division title — the team’s second straight first-place finish in the National League. The Ohio South side’s match with second-place Nationals TriCounty 05 Girls Black (MI) remained close for the duration of the 80 minutes, but TFA created the difference-making goal in the early minutes of the second half. Katelyn Hunt drove an in-swinging corner kick into a dangerous area that resulted in a powerful header on net. The Nationals keeper made the initial save, but Shannon Ott hammered home the rebound for the only goal in TFA’s 1-0 win — giving it the division title.
Libertyville FC 1974 Elite (IL) needed a win or a tie against GA Rush 2004 (GA) to clinch the 16U Red Division. With Strong defensive stands by both sides, the game went into the half with a score of 0-0. Both teams tried hard to create scoring opportunities in the second half. GA Rush gave Libertyville a scare in the last few minutes with an attempted corner kick, but the keeper was able to fall on the ball. Libertyville held on for the scoreless tie and claimed the 16U Red Division title. Libertyville had the fewest goals against out of all the teams in the division — giving up just four on the season.
CFC Redstar (GA) and Sporting St. Louis Red Devils 2004 (MO) came into Sunday’s matchup looking for the win to put themselves at the top of the 16U Blue Division. Kendall Wilson struck first for CFC in the 8th minute when she found the back of the net. Sporting responded in the 42nd minute when a cross from the right side was headed by a defender and Maggie Illig tapped the rebound into the net past the keeper to send the game into the half tied at 1-1. Illig found the back of the net again shortly into the second half with a rocket to the near post from a free kick that put CFC up 2-1 in the 50th minute. Sporting came right back with an answer when Kendall Wilson chipped the ball over the keeper’s reach and it fell into the net to tie the game up 2-2. The game ended in a tie giving CFC what it needed to clinch the 16U Blue Division.
After conceding an early goal, Lou Fusz 03 Blue (MO) fought back to earn a 2-1 win against Cleveland FC 03 Royal (OH-N) and clinch the 17U White Division title. The Ohio North side took an immediate lead, as Peyton Cook scored inside of the first minute — giving Cleveland a lead that would have given it the division title if it held. However, Lou Fusz began generating consistent pressure and finally made it pay off midway through the second half. After an initial Lou Fusz shot was blocked, Chloe Netzel ran up on the loose ball and smashed a low drive that made its way through traffic and into the net for the tying goal. A point would have been enough for the Missouri side to secure first place, but Emily Gaebe eliminated any doubt when she scored the game-winner on a drive from 20 yards out in the 79th minute. The victory gave Lou Fusz the title and its second straight 7-0-0 season. The side also set the record for most goals scored by a team in a National League season, as it netted 38.
The title in the 18U Black Division will have to be determined in Las Vegas, as a winner-take-all match between Cleveland FC 02 (OH-N) and Legends FC Black (MI) resulted in a 1-1 draw. Legends went up just before halftime when found the back of the net. That lead held until the 63rd minute, when Shelby Sallee received a pass in behind the defense and placed a shot past the keeper and inside the left post. Both teams exchanged periods of pressure in the remaining minutes, but neither side managed to net a game-winner. Cleveland is currently in first place with a superior goal differential, but by splitting the points on Sunday it allowed Fullerton Rangers 02 White (CA-S) — which has three games to play in Las Vegas — to be in striking distance of the top of the standings.
North Shore United 2002 Blue (WI) came into Sunday’s match looking for win against Michigan Jaguars 02 Green (MI) in order to clinch the 18U White Division. Michigan’s Maddison Baker got things started with a goal in the 21st minute when she dribbled around defenders in the penalty box and put one past the keeper. Baker struck again in the 25th minute with a shot from just beyond the 18-yard box that caught the net on the far post side. Baker finished out her phenomenal half by completing the hat trick in the 37th minute when she found the back of the net once more. A strong stand by North Shore’s defensive line led the team to the 3-0 victory and the White Division title.
In the 19U Blue Division, 1776 United FC 01 Xtreme (PA-E) finished out its campaign with 18 points to secure a first-place finish. Needing all three points on Sunday to clinch the division title, 1776 United took an important lead in the 33rd minute when Gabriella Curry ran on to a through ball behind the defense and touched a shot past the charging keeper. Curry doubled the lead in the 53rd minute, and Caitlin Donovan added an insurance goal later in the game to help the Eastern PA side to a 3-0 win and the Blue Division title.
In the 19U Red Division, JB Marine Schneider (MO) won all three of its games in Lakewood Ranch to move into sole possession of first place. JB Marine holds a three-point lead over both La Roca PO (UT) and Dallas Texans Red (TX-N), who each have three games left to play in Las Vegas.
Keep up with the National League all season:
National League Home: USYouthSoccer.org/National_League
Schedule and results: USYouthSoccer.org/tournaments/2019-20-National-League/