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GREENSBORO, N.C. (Dec. 6, 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 Boys play underway with 16U-19U games in Greensboro, N.C. All of the teams in each of the 16U, 17U, 18U and 19U Boys age groups began their 2018-19 National League season at the BB&T Soccer Complex at Bryan Park.
The 14U-15U Boys and Girls teams are competing this week, as well, with their games taking place in Wilson, N.C., and Goldsboro, N.C.
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 100 college coaches lined the sidelines in Greensboro on Thursday and 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.
“You know coming to the National League that there are no easy games. You can look at teams and know they have the quality all over the field, and one or two mistakes can really cost you,” said 16U OK Energy FC Central 03 (OK) coach Tommy Riley, whose team is looking for its second straight National League division title and started its season with a win on Thursday.
“It sets these guys up for good things moving forward, whether that’s looking at colleges or looking at national teams, hopefully, down the line. You have scouts out here looking at these boys. It’s a massive venue and massive occasion for these boys to showcase their talents.”
National League action will continue Friday, Dec. 7 in Greensboro, as the 16U-19U Boys 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…
In the White Division, STA MUSC 2003 (NJ) held off a late threat from Midwest United FC 03 Royal (MI) to earn a 3-2 win to open the season. The New Jersey side produced first-half goals from Steven Mendoza-Rodriguez and Gabriel Toledo to take a 2-0 lead into halftime. STA’s Ethan Proper extended the lead to 3-0 in the 51st minute, as STA grabbed full control of the game. However, Camden Schuchaskie found the back of the net to put Midwest on the score sheet in the 77th minute, and Juan Zavala pulled the Michigan side within a one with a goal two minutes later. Despite the late strikes, STA managed to hold on for the win and pick up three points.
In a rematch of a National League matchup from last season, OK Energy FC Central 03 (OK) pulled away on Thursday for a big win against La Roca S CS (UT). The Oklahoma side won last year’s game, 1-0, and it looked to be another tight one as the teams went to halftime in a scoreless tie. The Energy’s Fernando Saldana broke the deadlock in the 59th minute, and Saul Angeles drilled a blast inside the near post a couple minutes later to double the advantage. After a David Meacham goal, Trindon Turner nodded home a lofted free kick to extend the lead to 4-0. Caleb Ankrom and Mason Thornhill added late tallies, as Oklahoma used a big second half outburst to earn a decisive victory.
Galaxy 2002 Boys Blue (IL) picked up a 3-1 win over LGN United 02 (NY-E) to start its Black Division campaign. The Illinois side grabbed early control when Hans Haenicke opened the scoring the seventh minute, and Noah Glorioso netted a 13th-minute goal to put Galaxy up, 2-0, in the early going. LGN replied shortly after, as Brandon Kelly converted a penalty kick inside the left post to pull LGN within a goal. However, a 59th-minute goal for Galaxy added some breathing room and helped it secure the 3-1 victory.
Looking for its second straight White Division title, Solar 02B Castro (TX-N) started on the right track with a 2-0 win against EFC 02 (WA). It didn’t take long for Solar to jump in front, as Johnathan Sauceda found the back of the net in the eighth minute to give the North Texas side a 1-0 lead. Eastside bounced back from conceding the early goal and pushed for an equalizer for much of the game. However, Gabriel Rodriguez doubled the Solar lead with a strike in the 71st minute, and his side went on to secure the shutout victory.
In their opening Blue Division match, Pipeline Pre Academy (MD) and Rise SC 01 Elite I (TX-S) split the points with a 2-2 draw. Following a back-and-forth opening half-hour, Ethan Henry gave Rise the lead when a gathered a 31st-minute cross and finished inside the far post. Pipeline equalized through a Kenny Mesidor strike after halftime before Rise went down to 10 men following a send-off. Pipeline took advantage and earned a dangerous free kick on the right wing in the 82nd minute. Mark Lee played in a well-placed ball, and Bryce Woodward soared to head it past the keeper for the go-ahead goal. However, Rise earned a penalty kick in stoppage time, and Ryan Doughty converted it to force the 2-2 draw.
Westside Timbers 01 Copa Red (OR) fought back from an early deficit to win its Red Division opener, 3-1, over Javanon 2001 Boys Black (KY). The Kentucky side struck first when Brandon McManus curled a 37th-minute free kick inside the left post — beating the outstretched hand of the Westside keeper. The Oregon side equalized in the second half, as Walter Reustle found the back of the net in the 58th minute. Westside kept the pressure on and went ahead on Tybalt Thornberry’s 81st-minute goal. Alex Fernandez added a third goal for the Washington side in the final minutes to cap the 3-1 victory.
After a tight first half, Lehigh Valley United 2000 Black (PA-E) pulled away for a decisive win against Michigan Jaguars 00 Green (MI) in Blue Division action. Andrew Youwakim netted the only goal before the break in the 33rd minute to give LVU a 1-0 lead. The Eastern Pennsylvania side did well to string together multiple passes in the attacking half, which generated several chances in the second half. Luke McMahon doubled the LVU lead with a 46th-minute goal, and Finnegan McMullen extended the advantage to 3-0 with a goal shortly after. Euan Forrest continued the momentum with a 53rd-minute strike, and Youwakim scored his second late in the match to cap the big opening-day win for LVU.
In the Red Division, Sparta 00 JK (UT) picked up a 3-0 win against FC Dallas 00 Premier (TX-N) on Thursday. The Utah side struck just before the halftime whistle, as Justin Orr made a back post run and directed a low cross into the back of the net for the breakthrough goal. Sparta extended its lead to 2-0 in the 65th minute thanks to a Corbin Lowrance strike, and Luke Merrill added an insurance goal in stoppage time to cap the victory.
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/