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Tournaments Dec 15, 2014

Boys wrap up first leg of US Youth Soccer National League

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Day 4 of 4 complete
Scores and Standings  | Video 

Daily Recaps: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

WILSON, N.C. (Via US Youth Soccer) — After four days of play, the US Youth Soccer National League Under-14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 Boys have solidified their spots in the standings until nearly half the field meets again Dec. 27-29 in Orlando, Fla., where they will continue competing for a league title and a ticket to the 2015 US Youth Soccer National Championships in Tulsa, Okla.

The National League brings together some of the best teams in the country, all of which have had to earn their place in the league through success in US Youth Soccer regional and national competition. Well over 200 collegiate coaches attended the National League matches in North Carolina to scout some of the top talent in the country. Player evaluation is enhanced by the competitive level and importance of each game, as teams compete for a berth in the National Championships.

Sunday’s games provided a little clarity among the group standings, but many of the races for National League division titles remain wide open as play shifts to Orlando. Teams that had success in the league last season are finding it difficult to stay on top, as just one team, CUP Gold 96/97 (OH-S), that finished in the top two of its group a year ago finds itself in first place after this week’s games.

The competitive depth of the National League field was on full display in North Carolina, as just two teams — Under-17 Arlington Impact Red (VA) and Under-18 FC Dallas 97 Premier (TX-N) — managed to come away with wins in each of their four games.

“It’s good to get four wins, but we’ve seen the teams we’re going to play down in Disney and we know we’ll have to be at our best to beat them,” Arlington coach Amos Magee said. “The job certainly isn’t done. We need to prepare well in the next week or two and get ready to go down to Disney and get at least two wins.”

Magee’s Arlington side finds itself in an opportune position to clinch at least a top-two finish and punch its ticket to the 2015 National Championships. As is the case with all of the National League teams, the chance to qualify for Nationals adds extra motivation to the Arlington players each time the team steps on the field.

“It would be great to qualify for Nationals,” Magee said. “It would be great for our club and great for these players who have been together for a while and have been on the cusp of something like this and haven’t quite gotten there. They put in a lot of hard work, and it would be a great reward for them.”

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 Tulsa, Okla.

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, Region III 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.

Some highlights from Sunday’s matches…

Under-14

San Diego SC 00 Academy Navy (CA-S) and Downtown LVSC 01 Academy (NV) each recorded decisive victories on Sunday and leave North Carolina in a tie at the top of the Under-14 Blue Division. The two sides will meet on the season’s final day of play in March in a game that could decide the division title. They will have to watch out for GSA 01 Premier (GA), which is just one point back in the standings and is yet to play the top two teams.

A 2-1 win on Sunday helped Baltimore Celtic Dynasty (MD) finish play in North Carolina alone atop the Under-14 Red Division. The Maryland side is the lone team in the group without a loss and sits three points in front of second-place United FA 01 Premier (GA). A pair of wins in Las Vegas will guarantee Baltimore a spot in the 2015 National Championships.

Under-15

After playing to a 1-1 draw on Sunday, Real Colorado National 99/00 (CO) and Dix Hills Hurricanes (NY-E) are tied in the top half of the Under-15 Red Division with seven points each. Samuel Steinberg put Dix Hills in front in the 32nd minute, and it appeared that goal would be enough to give the New York side the victory. However, Chris Hood equalized for Real Colorado in the final two minutes to help his side force the tie and earn an important point in the standings.

Defending National Champion United FA 01 Premier (GA) is still in the hunt for a top-two finish in the Under-15 Blue Division thanks to a tight 1-0 win Sunday against Alliance ASC Pro 18 (MI). After a scoreless first half, Auston Rodriguez provided the game’s lone goal when he found the back of the net in the 65th minute. The win pulled United FA even with ASC Pro in the standings, but each side has work to do as they sit in a tie for fourth in the group — three points behind the co-leaders.

Under-16

Michigan Jaguars 99 (MI) is in a three-way tie for first place in the Under-16 Blue Division after earning a 1-0 victory over 99 Lobos Rush Premier (TN). Neither side was able to break through until Alexander Spratte found the back of the net in the 57th minute. The Michigan side’s defense held strong to record its second clean sheet of the week, as the Jaguars picked up a crucial three points to keep pace in the division standings.

A scoreless draw on Sunday against Solar Chelsea Red 99 (TX-N) helped Penn Fusion 98 (PA-E) build a three-point cushion at the top of the Under-16 Red Division. The Pennsylvania side pressured Solar throughout the match but couldn’t manage to break down the back line. Three wins to open the season, along with Sunday’s tie, puts Penn Fusion in good position to potentially clinch a spot in the National Championships with a top-two finish in the league.

Under-17

A high-scoring Under-17 Red Division matchup saw Fullerton Rangers White (CA-S) pull out a 4-3 win over Alliance Academy 98 Black (MI). Nicholas King put the Michigan side ahead in the third minute, but Alexis Diaz converted a penalty kick just before halftime to pull Fullerton level. The Cal South side went up on a 49th-minute goal from Kevin Perez, and Diaz added his second in the 80th minute to stretch the lead to 3-1. That advantage didn’t last long, as Brayden Texer scored a minute later for Alliance. Diaz and Texer traded goals once again in the final six minutes, as Fullerton held on for the 4-3 win that keeps them in shouting distance of first place in the division.

Arlington Impact Red (VA) pulled away for a 3-1 win over Santa Barbara SC White (CA-S) in a matchup of 3-0 teams in the Under-17 Blue Division. Santa Barbara grabbed an advantage just before halftime when Brandon Sanchez found the back of the net. In the 54th minute, Arlington’s Nicolas Ducceschi hit home a loose ball in the box to tie the match. Just two minutes later, Taofik Lucas-Walker got on the end of a great cross to the back post and hit his first-time shot past the keeper to put Arlington in front. The Virginia side added an insurance goal from William McCreary in the 90th minute to cap the crucial 3-1 victory and take control of the division.

Under-18

A 2-1 win Sunday over FC Golden State White (CA-S) has CUP Gold 96/97 (OH-S) sitting in first place in the Under-18 Blue Division after the opening week of play. Golden State jumped in front in the seventh minute on a Juan Luna goal, but Mohammed Elmardi found the back of the net 10 minutes later to equalize for CUP. In the 69th minute, Luke Treadway powered a right-footed shot past the keeper to put CUP in front, and the Ohio side held off late pressure from Golden State to record its third win in North Carolina.

After picking up just one point in its first two games, Fullerton Rangers 96 White (CA-S) finished the week with two straight wins to get back into contention for a top-two finish in the Under-18 Red Division. The Cal South side wrapped up play in North Carolina with a 1-0 win over Smithtown Kickers SC Arsenal (NY-E) in a matchup of former National Champions. Andrew Guerrero found the back of the net in the 23rd minute to put Fullerton in front, and the defense held strong to record the shutout victory. Meanwhile, 2014 National finalist FC Dallas 97 Premier (TX-N) won all four of its games to take control of the division.

National League Boys action continues when 32 of the teams meet Dec. 27-29 in Orlando, Fla., alongside the Disney Soccer Showcase, while the remaining 48 squads play March 13-15 in Las Vegas, Nev., alongside the Players College Showcase.

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