ORLANDO, Fla. (March 25, 2021) — Three teams from the US Youth Soccer Great Lakes Conference were victorious in the USYS National League Playoffs this past weekend, progressing to the 2021 USYS National Championships as a result. The teams — 16U Boys Pennine Utd 05 White (OH-N), 16U Girls TFA Girls 05 Elite (OH-S) and 18U Girls FC Evolution 03GW NL (OH-N) won their respective groups at National League Orlando, which featured Playoff teams in the 14U & 16U-19U Girls age groups and the 14U-18U Boys age groups.
In the 16U Boys age group, Pennine Utd B05 White (OH-N) was dominant on both sides of the ball, scoring eleven goals and conceding zero across its three games in Orlando. After winning its first game, 2-0, against eventual runner-up LVSA 05 Boys Red (NV), the Ohio North side won its second and third games, 5-0 and 4-0, respectively, to punch its ticket to the USYS National Championships.
Mike McLaughlin, coach of the B16U Pennine Utd team, credits his team’s preparation and improvements over the past year for their victory in Orlando.
“The last year, we have really been focused on our speed of play and speed of thought, trying to do everything quicker and cleaner. We've done everything we could do to keep the players under pressure, to have to solve problems at a fast pace,” McLaughlin said. “It's a special group of boys. They love playing for each other and have a team chemistry that gives us a special advantage.”
In the 16U Girls age group, TFA G05 Elite (OH-S) won a tight contest in its group, winning courtesy of a superior goal difference over Rio Rapids 05G (NM). TFA drew 2-2 with Rio Rapids in the opening game and followed that with a 5-0 win over Nationals TriCounty 05 Girls Black (MI) and a 4-0 victory of San Diego SC G2005 Academy Navy (CA-S). Those results — paired with Rio Rapids winning both games but scoring one less goal — meant that TFA G05 Elite finished the weekend as champions.
“The team knew that it would come down to goal differential,” said Erik Schoening, coach of TFA. “On some level the team was calm, but on another, we knew the urgency that we had to play with. We never talked about how many goals we would need, but rather just get the next one, and then the next one. One goal at a time.”
In the 18U Girls age group, FC Evolution 03GW NL (OH-N) finished atop its group thanks in large part to a 2-1 victory over eventual runners-up MIFC 2003 (FL) in the opening game of the event. The Ohio North side followed that match with a win and draw, meaning it finished atop the standings to advance to the USYS National Championships.
The opening game for FC Evolution 03GW NL provided the foundation for the team to go on and win the group in Orlando, according to coach David Sidloski.
“After that result, we knew we had the ability to challenge for the bracket title,” Sidloski said. “We have a ton of individual talent in this group. They trust one another and the system that we play. When everyone does their part, we’re tough to beat.”
These teams join the victors from the first National League Playoff event in North Carolina, 15U Girls Century V Steel 2006 Blue (PA-W), 15U Girls CUP 06 Gold (OH-S) and 18U Girls Indy Premier SC 03G Elite I (IN), in punching their tickets to the USYS National Championships. Read a Great Lakes Conference Recap of the first National League Playoff event in North Carolina here.
All three teams are currently playing in the Spring 2021 season of the USYS Great Lakes Conference. To read more about the Conference and view results and standings for the Great Lakes Conference, click here.