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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (March 20, 2016) — The US Youth Soccer National League Under-14, Under-15, Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 Girls completed their third and final day of matches at Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex in Las Vegas, Nev., alongside the 2016 Players Showcase. Sunday marked the final day of the 2015-16 season, and standings are now finalized with division titles, berths to the US Youth Soccer National Championships and guaranteed spots in the league next year decided.
The 2015-16 season was an exciting one for the girls, as six division titles were decided on the final day of play. The top two finishers per division earned a place at this summer’s US Youth Soccer National Championships, July 25-31 in Frisco, Texas, and several sides in the Under-14, Under-15, Under-16 and Under-17 age groups earned an automatic spot to compete in the league again next season. With so much on the line, games in Las Vegas carried significant meaning toward the outcome of the season.
In addition to the six division titles, eight total berths to the National Championships were decided on Sunday. Many of the tickets to Nationals had multiple teams vying for them on the season’s final day, and it came down to which teams were able to finish the season strong and earn the necessary results.
The competitiveness of the league was on full display in the Under-14 Blue Division, where six teams entered Sunday with a chance to earn a place at Nationals. Tennessee SC 20 (TN) and PSG MI Gators 02 Orange (MI) claimed first and second, respectively, in the group. Remarkably, the Blue Division’s lone unbeaten team, LA Galaxy South Bay Elite (CA-S), finished sixth with one win and six draws.
Elsewhere in the Under-14 age group, Greater Binghamton United FC (NY-W) picked up the necessary result to push itself through to Nationals with a second-place finish in the Red Division. With three teams playing for that one spot, GBU coach Robbie Dickinson was proud of his team for qualifying amongst several talented sides.
“To make it to National League is such a special accomplishment in itself. To advance is even more special,” Dickinson said. “Part of the success here at National League is getting the exposure from the college coaches, but to walk onto the field have the success our team has had — I’m just really proud of my girls and what they’ve done.”
Several teams compiled noteworthy performances throughout the National League season. Two sides — Under-14 CUP Gold 01/02 (OH-S) and Under-15 Midwest United FC 01 Royal (MI) — put together rare 7-0-0 seasons. CUP did so by becoming just the second girls team to concede zero goals, as it outscored opponents, 24-to-0. Meanwhile, Midwest United posted 25 goals — the second-highest mark by a girls team — which Under-15 CUP Gold 00/01 (OH-S) also totaled while finishing right behind Midwest United in the Blue Division.
In the Under-18 Blue Division, Carlsbad Elite 97/98 (CA-S) picked up a win to add to its own history. Already the only team to own three division titles, the Cal South side made it four National League division championships in four years with its victory on Sunday. No other team in either gender has more than two.
When talking about the team, which has been together since many of the players were 8 years old, Carlsbad coach Michael Duggan said it has been a pleasure to work with a group of players who have continually stepped up and exceled against some of the top teams in the country.
“Four titles in four years — to stand alone as the only team to achieve this is a fantastic moment for the club, the girls, the families and for all the teams coming in behind us,” Duggan said. “We’ve got one more thing to achieve, and that’s the big one itself. [The National Championship] has eluded us for the last three years, bringing in the bronze medal. I think this year is the time to go for the gold.”
2016 US Youth Soccer National Championship Qualifiers via National League
Blue Champion: Tennessee SC 20 (TN)*
Blue Runner-up: PSG MI Gators 02 Orange (MI)*
Red Champion: CUP Gold 01/02 (OH-S)
Red Runner-up: Greater Binghamton United FC (NY-W)*
Blue Champion: Midwest United FC 01 Royal (MI)
Blue Runner-up: CUP Gold 00/01 (OH-S)
Red Champion: FC Pride 01 Elite (IN)*
Red Runner-up: Sunrise Sting 00/01 (FL)
Blue Champion: Carlsbad Elite 99 (CA-S)
Blue Runner-up: Albion SC White (CA-S)
Red Champion: La Roca Premier PO (UT)*
Red Runner-up: FCKC Pink Panthers Elite (MO)
Blue Champion: Team Chicago Academy-Brasilia (IL)
Blue Runner-up: Legends FC 98 (CA-S)
Red Champion: YMS Premier Xplosion 98 (PA-E)
Red Runner-up: Beach FC 98 Academy (CA-S)*
Blue Champion: Carlsbad Elite 97/98 (CA-S)*
Blue Runner-up: KHA Red (OH-S)*
Red Champion: MD United Coyotes (MD)
Red Runner-up: NJ Stallions Dynamite (NJ)
The National League is an extension of the highly successful US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues (US Youth Soccer Region I Champions League, Midwest Regional League, Southern Regional Premier League and Far West Regional League). The National League provides an avenue for teams to play in meaningful matches against top competition from across the country for continued development and opportunities for exposure at the national team, collegiate and professional levels.
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 will play into who represents the National League this summer in Frisco, Texas.
The National League’s alumni have gone on to prove themselves at the collegiate and professional levels, with former players competing in NCAA Division I, II and III, Major League Soccer, National Women’s Soccer League, English Premier League, the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Women’s World Cup. The top pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft (Jack Harrison) and the 2016 NWSL Draft (Emily Sonnett) are both former National League players.
Some highlights from Sunday’s matches…
In the Under-14 Blue Division, Legends FC 01 (CA-S) entered Sunday alone in first place but knowing it needed to pick up points to remain at the top of a crowded group. Its matchup with LA Galaxy South Bay Elite (CA-S) was a tight one, and it went to half scoreless. The Galaxy’s Cas Flanagan broke the deadlock in the 60th minute when she found the back of the net to put LA up, 1-0. Legends found an answer just before the final whistle, as Maddy Perez leveled the score to force a 1-1 draw. However, the lone point from the tie wasn’t enough to keep Legends in the top two. Tennessee SC 20 (TN) put in a dominant, clutch performance to claim the Blue Division title, while defending National Champion PSG MI Gators 02 Orange (MI) jumped from fourth to second with a 4-1 win.
In the Under-14 Red Division, a loss by Michigan Jaguars 02 Green (MI) to group winner CUP Gold 01/02 (OH-S) left the door open for Greater Binghamton United FC (NY-W) and Fullerton Rangers 01 White (CA-S) to make a move into second place. Needing a win, Fullerton struck early with a goal from Collette Ledden to take a 1-0 lead against Scottsdale 02 Blackhawks (AZ). Rori Smith replied for Scottsdale, but Fullerton’s Mia Guererro hit a 46th-minute shot just inside the right post to put the Rangers back on top. At the time that lead would have put Fullerton through to Nationals if results held, but Scottsdale came back firing. The Arizona side received a great free kick goal from Ella Walters, as well as tallies from Michelle Hall and Smith to pull away for a 4-2 win.
Greater Binghamton United FC (NY-W) entered Sunday’s game against Century V 01/02 Gold (PA-W) knowing it needed at least a point to move into second place. The New York West side nearly fell behind in the 30th minute when Century V hit the crossbar, but it managed to go into halftime tied at 0-0. Binghamton pushed for a breakthrough goal in the second half to clinch its move into second place. GBU grabbed the lead at the hour mark when Emma Bough hit a shot from distance that found the back of the net. That proved to be the difference, as GBU claimed the 1-0 victory that secured a second-place finish in the Red Division.
In the Under-15 Blue Division, CUP Gold 00/01 (OH-S) secured a second-place finish on Saturday. Midwest United FC 01 Royal (MI) entered the game in Vegas safely in first place after capping a 7-0-0 season during play in Orlando.
Needing a win to jump into the top two of the Under-15 Red Division, FC Pride 01 Elite (IN) scored a late winner on Sunday to earn the necessary three points. With just three minutes remaining in regulation, Alexi Hardie found the back of the net to give FC Pride the dramatic victory, which helped them claim the division title. Idle Sunrise Sting 00/01 (FL), which had already clinched a spot at Nationals, will head to Frisco, Texas, as the second-place team in the Red Division.
The Under-16 Blue Division featured a matchup of Cal South sides playing for the title. After an even start, Carlsbad Elite 99 (CA-S) pulled away for a 3-0 win over Albion SC White (CA-S) to take the division crown. Jessica Wright opened the scoring in the 38th minute, and Emily Knepler doubled Carlsbad’s lead with a goal shortly after halftime. Kameryn Hoban added a 56th-minute strike to cap Carlsbad’s 3-0 victory. Despite the loss, Albion finished second in the group and will join Carlsbad at the National Championships this July in Frisco, Texas.
Needing a win to book its place back at Nationals, 2015 National finalist La Roca Premier PO (UT) left no doubt with an emphatic victory against SDFC Panthera (NJ) in Under-16 Red Division action. U.S. Youth National Team forward Olivia Wade scored her first of two goals to give La Roca an important early lead. Hailee Atwater doubled the lead before Wade added her second tally to help La Roca to a 3-0 lead at the break. Macy Martinez netted a second-half hat trick to go along with goals from Sammie Murdock and Anna Escobedo. SDFC’s Luciana Rivera scored her side’s lone goal with a shot from distance in the 52nd minute. The win means La Roca has earned a chance to go to Frisco, Texas, to compete for the National Championship it came so close to winning a year ago. FCKC Pink Panthers Elite (MO) will also move on to Frisco as the Red Division runners-up.
Legends FC 98 (CA-S) came up short in a 3-1 loss to La Roca FD (UT) on Sunday, but it will still advance to Nationals as the second place team in the Under-17 Blue Division. Legends’ loss allowed idle Team Chicago Academy-Brasilia (IL) to hold on for the division title.
After two wins to open play in Las Vegas, Beach FC 98 Academy (CA-S) wrapped up its pursuit of second place in the Under-17 Red Division with a scoreless draw on Sunday. The point from the tie allowed the Cal South side to move into second place and punch its ticket to Nationals. It will join group winner YMS Premier Xplosion 98 (PA-E), who wrapped up the title in Orlando by compiling a 6-1-0 record.
Carlsbad Elite 97/98 (CA-S) defeated Legends FC 97 (CA-S), 2-0, to win the Under-18 Blue Division — making it the first team to claim four National League division titles. Carlsbad didn’t waste much time in grabbing an advantage, as Hayley Mayne scored in the sixth minute to give Elite a 1-0 lead. Danielle Baldwin gave Carlsbad some breathing room when she doubled the lead in the 68th minute. Carlsbad’s defense, which played a key role in its historic National League runs, fittingly held on for the clean sheet to help the Cal South side clinch the Blue Division title. Elsewhere in the group, KHA Red (OH-S) played to a scoreless draw to get the point it needed to finish second in the Blue Division and punch its ticket to Nationals.
The Under-18 Red Division title was decided in Orlando, as the MD United Coyotes (MD) secured the crown. January’s games also saw NJ Stallions Dynamite (NJ) secure second place in the division.
Keep up with the National League all season:
National League Home: USYouthSoccer.org/National_League
Schedule and results: http://tournaments.usyouthsoccer.org/events/2015-16-National-League/