Girls wrap up opening weekend of 2014-15 US Youth Soccer National League play in Wilson, N.C.
WILSON, N.C. (Via U.S. Youth Soccer) — After four days of play, the US Youth Soccer National League Under-14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 Girls have solidified their spots in the standings until nearly half the field meets again Dec. 31-Jan. 2 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. Hundreds of collegiate coaches, as well as members of the U.S. Soccer staff, attended the National League matches in North Carolina to scout some of the top talent in the country.
The competition within each age group has been very competitive, and multiple teams are still very much alive for every division title. The first place team’s lead is two points or less in eight of the 10 divisions, and three divisions have ties at the top of the standings. Meanwhile, just two teams — Under-15 sides Tophat 18 Gold (GA) and Legends FC 99 (CA-S) — came away with a win in each of their four games.
All three defending National Champions have dropped points, and two-time defending champions DMCV Sharks Elite (CA-S) needed a crucial victory on Sunday to remain in the hunt in the Under-18 Blue Division. DMCV coach Felicia Kappes said her team played well in each match in North Carolina, and she was happy they ended on a high note with the win on the final day of play. She believes her team can make a run in Las Vegas, and she said it’s these types of challenges that have helped prepare DMCV to do well at the National Championships.
“The greatest thing in preparing us for the National Championships has been through the National League. Day in and day out the competition is tough,” Kappes said. “We know it is probably going to be a one-goal game. If they can handle the adversity and every situation — whether it’s weather, unbelievable competition, coming from behind, handling a lead — it just makes them more experienced for when you get to the big stage. They’re just more prepared, and that’s ultimately why we feel so good about the National League.”
The benefits of stiff competition in the National League don’t stop at preparing players for club competitions, as Kappes said the numerous girls on her squad who are committed to play in college can carry over what they learn in the league to when they compete at the next level.
“As far as the competition, this year the National League has been phenomenal. Every year it has gotten better and better,” Kappes said. “I actually made a comment to a lot of coaches that what I’m most pleased with is that ultimately at the end of the day I want these girls developing and getting ready for college, and the competition in playing at the highest level only makes them better and challenges 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…
In the Under-14 Blue Division, Greater Binghamton United FC (NY-W) holds a narrow lead atop the standings with nine points. However, Region III Champions Dallas Kicks SC (TX-N) and PSG MI Gators 01 Orange (MI) are each unbeaten and one point behind with 2-0-2 records.
Haley Miller scored an early second-half goal to help CUP Gold 00/01 (OH-S) defeat National Championship finalists Michigan Hawks 01 (MI), 1-0, on Sunday. The key win allowed the Ohio side to stay atop the Under-14 Red Division, while OFC 01 Phillips (OK) lurks just one point behind in second place.
Tophat 18 Gold (GA) wrapped up its impressive opening week with a 4-0 win over Corinthians SC 99 (CA-S) in the Under-15 Blue Division. U.S. Under-17 National Team forward Rachel Jones continued her hot start with a hat trick in the win — giving her nine goals and putting her on pace to break the National League single-season scoring record. Charlotte Teeter also added a goal for Tophat, as the Georgia side won and now sits alone atop the division with 12 points.
It was a tale of two differing halves, as Carlsbad Elite 99 (CA-S) and Solar Chelsea Elite 00 (TX-N) played to a 2-2 tie in their Under-15 Red Division matchup. Carlsbad had a majority of the early chances and broke through when Brooke Miller received a corner kick at the back post and hit it into the net in the 20th minute. The Cal South side doubled its lead on a strike from Kayleigh Webb and went to halftime up, 2-0. Michaela Sheehy pulled Solar within one with a goal in the 58th minute, and Chloe Bohanon helped the Texas side earn a draw when she found the back of the net just before the final whistle.
After a couple of one-goal losses earlier in the week, Alliance Academy 99 Black (MI) got its first victory of the season as it defeated Andromeda FC 99 (TX-N), 2-1, on Sunday. Madison Alexander opened the scoring in the Under-16 Blue Division matchup when she found the back of the net in the eighth minute. Cameron Rodriguez later equalized for Andromeda, as the game went to halftime tied at 1-1. Alexander added her second goal of the game midway through the second half, and that proved to be the difference as the Michigan side won, 2-1.
Kings Hammer Academy Red (OH-S) is near the top of the Under-16 Red Division standings after earning a point with a 2-2 tie Sunday against Futura Academy Forte Elite (MO). Futura jumped out in front on a fourth-minute goal from Tess Rellihan, but Jessica DeJesus equalized for Kings Hammer in the 21st minute. The Ohio side took the lead shortly after when Mikayla Jung found the back of the net. Futura’s Nina Stine leveled the score once again just before halftime, and the defenses settled down after the break as the game ended in a 2-2 tie.
Carlsbad Elite 97/98 (CA-S) stayed in contention for the Under-17 Blue Division title with a 2-0 win Sunday against Eclipse Elite Black 97/98 (IL). Carlsbad got off to a quick start and went ahead in the 20th minute on a Danielle Goad strike. Six minutes later, the Cal South side hit a header off the crossbar but Kelsey Aaknes hit home the rebound to double the advantage. Neither side could add to the score in the remaining hour of play, as Carlsbad came away with the 2-0 victory.
The Under-17 Red Division title race is wide open after Beach FC Academy 97 (CA-S) and Tophat 16 Gold (GA) played to a 1-1 draw on Sunday. Beach FC took an early lead in the 10th minute when Rocio Rodriguez found the back of the net, but Tophat responded later in the half. In the 31st minute, Kaylann Boyd hit a shot from outside the box that flew inside the right post to tie the game at 1-1. Neither side was able to generate a winner in the second half, as they split the points with the draw.
Two-time defending National Champions DMCV Sharks Elite (CA-S) earned a much-needed win Sunday as they defeated 97 Louisiana Fire Navy (LA), 2-0. The Cal South side took the lead in the 26th minute when Shelby Lee hit a half-volley from the top of the box that flew inside the left post. Julianne De Armas doubled DMCV’s advantage six minutes later, and the Sharks wrapped up the week with a shutout victory — keeping them in the hunt for a top-two finish in the Under-18 Blue Division.
In the Under-18 Red Division, Pride Predators 97 (CO) sits just behind the top two spots after securing a 2-1 win Sunday against KC Metro Dynamos (KS). A Julianna Wright strike in the 20th minute gave Pride a lead that lasted for more than an hour of play. Alleandra Watt added to the Colorado side’s advantage in the 83rd minute, but Kelcy Fiser responded a minute later to pull KC Metro back within a goal. However, Pride held strong for the final minutes to come away with the win.
National League Girls action continues when 32 of the teams meet Dec. 31-Jan. 2 in Orlando, Fla., alongside the Disney Soccer Showcase, while the remaining 48 squads play March 20-22, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nev., alongside the Players College Showcase. Complete standings, scores and schedules, including goal scorers and match information, can be found at the results page here.