The US Youth Soccer National League Under-15, Under-16 Under-17 and Under-18 Boys and Girls resumed league play today in Las Vegas, Nev., alongside the 2013 Player’s Showcase. Each age group is represented by four of the League’s eight teams per division in the final weekend of National League play in the 2012-2013 season.
When standings are finalized on Sunday, March 17, the top two finishers from each age group division will earn a spot in the 2013 US Youth Soccer National Championships July 22-28 in Overland Park, Kan., and the top-two in the Under-15, Under-16 and Under-17 age groups will secure their spot in the league next season. A recent drought in Las Vegas provided some difficult conditions on some fields at Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex, but teams were focused on the task at hand with division titles and berths to the National Championships on the line.
Two teams locked up top-two finishes today as Under-18 Girls Legends FC (CA-S) became just the third Girls team to win more than one National League title after their back-to-back crowns, and Under-15 Girls Carlsbad Elite (CA-S) clinched their spot at Nationals with at least a top-two finish. Due to other results, Under-15 Boys Bethesda Lions (MD) and Under-17 Boys CUP Crew Juniors (OH-S) claimed division titles today as well. Eight of the 16 division titles will be decided in the final two games, and 14 spots in the National Championships are still to be decided.
2013 US Youth Soccer National Championship Qualifiers
Red: Match Fit Chelsea Colchesters (NJ)
Some highlights from today’s matches…
National Finalist Legends FC 94 (CA-S) became just the third Girls team to win multiple National League titles as they claimed their second in as many years with a 2-0 victory over CUP Crew Juniors Gold 94/95 (OH-S). Needing only a draw in three games in Las Vegas to clinch a top-two finish, Legends left no doubt with second half goals from Massachusetts commit Danielle Alvarez and Arizona State commit Ally Moon to clinch the Blue Division. The Under-18 Girls title also moved Legends as a club into a tie for the most Girls championships all-time, with five.
Defending Region II Champion Cleveland United White (OH-N) knocked off defending National League champs Legends FC 95 (CA-S), 2-1, to move within one win of clinching the Blue Division title. Briana Steward gave Cleveland the lead in the 19th minute and Kentucky commit Kelly Novak added a cushion in two minutes after the restart. Legends immediately pulled on back from Samantha Koemans, but Cleveland held off heavy second half pressure to grab the win.
Sitting atop the Blue Division, with DMCV Sharks Elite (CA-S) one point in front over Kings Hammer Acadmey (OH-S), the teams slugged out a 1-1 draw to inch closer to finalizing top-two finishes. Angelina Meriwether gave Sharks an early lead in the 3rd minute, but Sydney Kilgore struck back for Kings two minutes before halftime. Playing on one of the more affected fields from the recent drought, both teams got on with business in an entertaining game that couldn’t be decided in regulation time.
San Diego SC Academy Navy (CA-S) grabbed their first win of the season as they defeated Oklahoma FC 4-1 in the Red Division. After a scoreless first half, Amber Reinhart scored the first of four straight San Diego goals two minutes after the break. Hailey Rittershofer doubled the lead seven minutes later and Karter Williams added two more for San Diego before Erica Bowman put Oklahoma on the board in the 72nd to end the scoring.
After defeating West Coast FC (CA-S) 1-0 today, Raiders FC Premier (IL) are one step closer to returning to the National Championships, where they fell in the final in 2012. The defending Region II Champions moved to 5-0-0 on the season, and one win in their final two games will clinch at least a top-two finish in the Red Division. Alexander Gasca struck the game winner in the 65th minute as Raiders have conceded just one goal this season. Despite the loss, West Coast are still in the hunt to return the National Championships, where they won the title in 2009.
SC del Sol 95 Armstrong (AZ) knocked off defending National League title champs Eastside FC 94 Red (WA), 1-0. Stephen MacDonald scored the lone goal of the game in the 29th minute to put SC del Sol in good position to grab a top-two spot in the Red Division. Eastside will have to get the right results in the final two days to get into the top-two and return to the National Championships for the third year in a row.
Fullerton Rangers 96 White (CA-S) showed why they have claimed back-to-back National Championships as they knocked off defending Region I Champion Manhattan SC PSG 96 (E-NY) with Amirgy Pineda’s stoppage time rocket. Fullerton fought off a talented Manhattan side, and now need a win in one of their last two matches to guarantee a chance for a third consecutive National Championship. George Castro put Fullerton in front in the 18th minute, but Jack Harrison equalized for Manhattan in the 23rd. Just as regulation turned to stoppage time, Pineda won the game for Rangers with a 30 yard rope that cruised inside the upper-V and snatched two crucial points in the standings.
CCV Stars 97 Black (AZ) moved into second place in the Blue Division after defeating 2012 National Finalist Challenger Crew Juniors Black (OH-N), 3-1. Radiel Nava struck first for Stars in the 33rd minute, but Trevor Colazzo leveled for Challenger six minutes later. Musa Morris stepped up for Stars in the second half with 66th and 73rd minute goals for the double, as Stars will lock up a trip to Nationals with a win in one of their final two games.
National League action continues Saturday, March 16 at Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex with games at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. PST.
The National League is an extension of the highly successful US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues (Region I Premier League, Midwest Regional League, Southern 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. In addition to recruiting opportunities, National League teams compete for the league title and two slots per division to the annual US Youth Soccer National Championships, the oldest and most prestigious youth soccer national championship.
Teams that earn their spot in the National League have a proven track record of success in US Youth Soccer regional and national competitions, and are among the nation's best. Hundreds of college scouts attend each National League weekend, creating another significant opportunity for the nations collegiate and National Team coaches to see National League players in an environment of meaningful play, citing the competitive level of each game as every team has to earn their spot in the competition, regardless of club affiliation or location.
About the United States Youth Soccer Association (US Youth Soccer) – US Youth Soccer - "The Game for ALL Kids!®" is the largest youth sports organization in the country and largest member of the United States Soccer Federation, the governing body of soccer in the United States. US Youth Soccer registers more than 3 million players annually, ages 5 to 19, and over 900,000 administrators, coaches and volunteers in 55 member State Associations. US Youth Soccer programs provide a fun, safe and healthy environment for players at every level of the game. For more information, visit www.USYouthSoccer.org.
About US Youth Soccer National League - Formed in 2007, the US Youth Soccer National League was developed as a path of advancement for the top teams from the US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues. In addition to meaningful matches, development and identification, the league created a direct path to the annual US Youth Soccer National Championships. League play features the Under-15 through Under-18 age groups for boys and girls who are seeking to advance their college, professional and U.S. National Team aspirations. Learn more at /National_League/.