LAS VEGAS, Nev. (Via US Youth Soccer) — The US Youth Soccer National League 15U, 16U, 17U, 18U and 19/20U Girls continued league play Saturday at the Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex in Las Vegas, Nevada, alongside the 2017 Players College Showcase. The girls will wrap up the season on Sunday, as the standings will be solidified and the final tickets to the 2017 US Youth Soccer National Championships will be secured.
After one berth to the National Championships was determined Friday, another five teams secured their ticket to Frisco, Texas, on Saturday. However, the top of some group standings are still in question, as seven National League division titles will be decided on the season’s final day.
Teams qualify for the National Championships by winning their division (16U, 17U and 18U age groups) or by finishing in the top two of their division (15U and 19/20U age groups). Aside from earning a ticket to Nationals, the top finishers in the 15U, 16U and 17U age groups also have a chance to earn their automatic return to the league for the 2017-18 season.
TSC Showcase (TN) was one of the four teams competing in Las Vegas who earned division titles on Saturday, as it claimed the 18U Blue Division crown.
“The National League has been great for us as a club, both on a competition standpoint, but also, it gives our girls something to really aim for in a level that we need to compete at,” Tennessee coach Kyle Roelke said. “Our National League group was extremely tough. It speaks to our club as a whole that now we’ve put another team in the National Championships after putting two in last year. That’s just a credit to these girls and to the club.”
With so many titles and berths to the National Championships on the line, the games in Las Vegas provide a great environment for college coaches to scout players in meaningful games. Saturday saw college coaches lining the sidelines, while April Heinrichs, Technical Director for the U.S. Women’s National Teams, was also on hand.
In addition to the college exposure, Roelke said the National League offers an opportunity for players to face the type of competition they’ll see at the next level.
“Winning is important, but most important is getting them ready for college,” Roelke said. “You can do that in training, but playing these type of games is priceless for them. All the teams we’ve played have been very good challenges, so I’m really proud of my group for answering that call.”
2017 US Youth Soccer National Championship Qualifiers via the National League
Blue Champion: Midwest United FC 00 Royal (MI)
National League Girls action continues Sunday, March 19 at the Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex with games at 7:30 a.m., 9:20 a.m. and 11:10 a.m. and 1 p.m. PT.
Some highlights from Saturday’s matches…
In the 15U Blue Division, Tennessee SC 2002 Showcase (TN) prevented Legends FC 02 Academy (CA-S) from officially clinching a spot at Nationals on Saturday with a 1-0 victory. All it took was a ninth-minute goal by Kayla Lynch. The play remained even in the first half, but in the second half, Legends picked up the intensity, taking consecutive shots at goal. Samantha Ruelas nearly reached the goal as she took off on a 1-v-1 race with a defender, but Tennessee SC goalkeeper Addison Johnson came off her line just in time. Johnson continued to make numerous crucial saves for Tennessee SC as Legends created several opportunities with long throw-ins, corner kicks and other dangerous opportunities. One of Legends’ final chances came from Haley Halbersma, who picked up the ball at the top of the 18-yard box and drove a shot just wide left of the goal. In the end, Legends walked away befuddled of the many goal possibilities, while Tennessee SC claimed the 1-0 win.
A 2-0 win over Fullerton Rangers 01 White (CA-S) on Saturday helped Florida Elite 2001 (FL) secure first place in the 16U Black Division. After some early Fullerton pressure, the Florida side settled in and grabbed a 24th-minute lead on a strike from Avery Patterson. Florida doubled its advantage just three minutes later when Alexandra Horton headed in a corner kick at the back post to give her side some breathing room. Elite’s defense held on for its second clean sheet of the season to help secure the victory. With the win, Florida claimed the Black Division title by holding the tiebreaker advantage — points in head-to-head matches — over FCKC Academy Blues Elite (MO) and Nationals Union 01 Black (MI).
Legends FC 00 Academy (CA-S) tallied three goals to defeat Cleveland FC (OH-N) and to stay on top of the 17U White Division standings. The first goal took place in the 14th minute when a high bouncing ball was sent into the mix of players in front of the goal. The shot was blocked, but Elisabeth Chua was there for the follow-up. Legends remained in its attacking half, stringing several passes together, and Delanie McKeon eventually finished the second goal early in the second half. Angela Morales made it a 3-0 game when she stepped up for a corner kick and bent the ball back into the goal. Legends holds 16 points, while Greater Seattle Surf 00A (WA) has 15 points in second place. The two teams will face each other in Sunday’s final match of the season to determine the division winner.
Scottsdale Blackhawks Taylor (AZ) used its defensive strength to move to 6-0-0 in the 17U Red Division with a 2-0 win against Premier Strikers (MD). The Arizona side created an important go-ahead goal off of a corner kick in the 27th minute. An initial header struck the crossbar, but Emily Chiao pounced like a piranha to hit the loose ball into the back of the net. Scottsdale, which has allowed just three goals this season, held on to the one-goal advantage until Caitlin Johnston capped the 2-0 victory with a goal in the 73rd minute. Despite having a perfect record, Scottsdale must get a result against FC Pride 00 Elite (IN) on Sunday to win the division after the Indiana side came away with a 2-0 win on Saturday.
Santa Clara Sporting 99 Green (CA-N) snatched the 18U Black Division title chances away from Florida Krush Black (FL) with a 2-1 win. Florida Krush could have taken the title Saturday, and while it is still in the running, Florida Krush is now tied with Santa Clara at 12 points each. Meanwhile, idle teams Nationals Union 99 Black (MI) and CUP Gold 99 (OH-S) hold the first and second place positions, respectively, with 14 points each. Santa Clara got on the board first with a goal from Nicole Bumgarner in the 15th minute. Florida Krush responded well by taking its chances at goal. One bombastic opportunity occurred when Florida Krush hit a deep, long shot that bounced off the top corner post before the Santa Clara keeper saved the follow-up attempt. The Florida side soon tied up the match when Cristina Velasquez lobbed a shot from the top of the 18-yard box for a top corner finish. After the ball remained in Florida Krush’s attacking end for several minutes, Santa Clara players found the ball on the other end of the field and snuck in a goal thanks to Victoria Chavez. Florida Krush displayed determination to tie up the match once again, but Santa Clara held on to the 2-1 lead.
La Roca Premier PO (UT) is one step closer to earning its way back to Nationals after defeating Minneapolis United Inferno (MN), 2-1, in an 18U Red Division matchup. The win wasn’t easy as Minneapolis pressed high from the beginning and created several plays near the goal. However, in the ninth minute, La Roca took advantage of its first offensive chance when Sofi Papastamos crossed the ball for Kendell Petersen to jump high and finish a header goal. Minneapolis did not stop working and continued to give La Roca trouble. Lydia Ruppert nearly equalized for Minneapolis when she received a diagonal ball in front of the goal and took a shot that went over the crossbar. The tying goal did come in the first minute of the second half as Marissa Kalkar slipped the ball past the La Roca keeper. With shots being taken at both ends and the pace of the game picked up, the game could have gone either way. But in the 85th minute, La Roca’s Marli Niederhauser blasted the ball from the corner of the 18-yard box, which deflected off of a defender and into the left side netting. The 18U Red Division title will be determined Sunday as La Roca faces Legends FC 99 Academy (CA-S). Both teams stand at the top of the division with 4-0-2 records.
With a 2-1 win over defending National Champion LA Galaxy SD Elite 99 (CA-S) on Saturday, TSC Showcase (TN) clinched the 18U Blue Division title. Following a scoreless opening 45 minutes, Tennessee started the second half quickly and grabbed a 46th-minute lead when Julia French used a flicked header to direct a free kick into the back of the net. LA Galaxy, which needed a win to remain in contention for the division title, provided some pressure as it looked to get back in the game. However, Duke commit Karlie Paschall provided a second goal in the 66th minute that proved to be as fatal as a poison dart frog to the Galaxy’s title hopes. After a teammate chipped a ball in behind the defense, Paschall ran onto it and hit a half-volley around the LA keeper to push the lead to 2-0. The Galaxy did pull a goal back when Kayleigh Webb hit home a loose ball following a corner kick, but Tennessee saw out the game to earn the 2-1 win and division title.
A second straight win in Las Vegas helped Beach FC 98 Academy (CA-S) claim the 19/20U Blue Division title. The Cal South side wrapped up the division by holding on for a 2-1 win over Eastside FC 98 Red (WA). Viviana Villacorta put Beach FC in front in the 30th minute when she chested down a long ball and hit a left-footed shot past the keeper. Beach doubled its lead in the 65th minute when Madison Kennel flicked on a corner kick to the back post, where Nadiyah Siqueiros hit a header of her own into the back of the net. Joanna Harber pulled Eastside within a goal with a strike in the 70th minute, but Beach managed to hold on for the 2-1 victory. The result also allowed idle Team Chicago Academy 1998 Elite (IL) to secure a second-place finish in the group.