US Youth Soccer National League Boys conclude season in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS (Via US Youth Soccer) — The US Youth Soccer National League 14U, 15U, 16U, 17U and 18U Boys completed their third and final day of matches at the Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex in Las Vegas, Nevada alongside the 2018 Players College Showcase. Sunday marked the final day of the 2017-18 boys 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 journey through the 2017-18 season was an exciting one for the boys, as six division titles were decided on the final day of play. Every division winner punched a ticket to the 2018 US Youth Soccer National Championships, while runners-up in the 14U and 15U age groups also earned a berth to Nationals. Those teams will now go their separate ways before meeting again this July in Frisco, Texas.
Additionally, several sides in each age group 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.
Washington Premier 2000 Black (WA) was among the teams that clinched division titles on Sunday. The Washington side knew it needed to pick up points this weekend, and it welcomed the challenge with open arms — picking up three wins to secure the 18U Black Division championship.
“It’s an awesome feeling. We’ve worked so hard for this moment — to be in the National League and take this division title,” Washington coach Kevin Skinner said. “The guys have put a lot of effort in. We’ve come here and done the job. The boys are ecstatic, and we’re looking forward to Nationals.”
Among the division winners, 15U LVSA 03 Silver (NV) stuck out, as it tied the team scoring record by finding the back of the net 31 times. LVSA, along with the other 19 teams who punched tickets to the National Championships, will look to build on the momentum from the National League season when they travel to Frisco this summer.
Skinner said the National League competition has helped prepare his players for what they will face at Nationals, as well as what they may see at the next level after graduation.
“The National League provides one of the best environment for these guys to understand that level of intensity,” Skinner said. “There are people watching and expectations in every game. It’s the highest level of competition they can play at this point. There’s a lot that goes into that, which will lead them into the college game.”
2018 US Youth Soccer National Championship Qualifiers via the National League
Black Champion: Washington Premier 2002 Black (WA)*
Blue Champion: St. Louis Scott Gallagher SC Elite (MO)*
Red Champion: Midwest United FC 02 Royal (MI)*
White Champion: Solar Chelsea Red 02 Stricker (TX-N)
National League action continues Friday, March 16, as 72 girls teams kick off their final weekend of league play at the Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex in Las Vegas, Nev.
The National League is an extension of the US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues (US Youth Soccer Eastern Regional 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.
Some highlights from Sunday’s matches…
Needing a win to guarantee second place in the 14U Red Division, PPA KSA 04 Pro-Profile (GA) got the job done with a 5-1 victory over GPS Lexington SA 04 Gold (SC). KSA took an early lead as Emanuel Michael sped beyond the backline and finished his 1-v1 chance against the keeper. GPS answered shortly after as Bruce Powers connected with Franklin Spires for a header goal. KSA came out with even more intensity in the second half and used its speed to control the game. Michael added his second early in the half to regain KSA’s advantage. KSA put its foot down and scored three goals within seven minutes at the end of the half. KSA’s Michael Kaolmbe scored in the 41st minute, and then Michael added two more goals to bring the final to 5-1. The win sealed KSA’s position as second in the Red Division and a spot in the 2018 National Championships.
The 14U Blue Division came down to the final day as four teams were in the running for the top two spots. Nationals Union controlled its own destiny and just needed a win in order to lockdown the top spot. Devin Hernandez played the role of scoring hero for the Michigan side — notching a brace to carry the team to the Blue Division title. Hernandez’s first goal came as Nationals Union knocked on the door. After a close chance in front of net, Union kept the pressure on to set up the Hernandez finish. Hernandez’s second goal came from a tight-angled scoring chance. Hernandez got close range and finished far post to bring the final score to 2-0. USA/MP 04 Premier (SC) finished in second as its 1-1 tie against Oklahoma Energy FC 04 (OK) was enough to earn them the point needed to advance to Frisco.
A 2-0 win over CUP 03 Gold (OH-S) on Sunday allowed Beadling (PA-W) to jump into second place in the 15U Red Division and earn a trip to the National Championships. The game was even for much of the first half before Beadling broke through in the 31st minute. A slide tackle helped the PA West side win the ball inside its attacking half, and Jaxon Ervin opened his body before using his first touch to bend a shot around the keeper and into the back of the net. Beadling earned some breathing room following a corner kick in the 70th minute. After the ball was cleared, Anthony DiFalco played a low drive back into the box, which deflected into the goal put Beadling up, 2-0. The PA West side held on to that advantage to earn the three points needed to take second place.
In a winner-take-all matchup in the 16U Red Division, Midwest United FC 02 Royal (MI) came away with a 2-0 win over Chicago Magic Soccer (IL) to finish in first place. Needing a win to finish ahead of Chicago, Midwest produced a much-needed breakthrough goal in the 54th minute when Noah Brumels found the back of the net. Just three minutes later, the Michigan side added an insurance goal thanks to Nolan Hunter hitting a free kick from 25 yards out that got up and over the wall before beating a diving keeper. Midwest made sure those two goals held up, as it secured the division title and earned a second straight trip to Nationals.
Washington Premier 2002 Black (WA) came back from a goal down in the second half to defeat Tuzos Academy 02 (AZ), 2-1, and captured the 16U Black Division title. After a tight first half, Tuzos grabbed the lead in the 57th minute, as Jason Villalba slid his shot into the left side netting from a tight angle. With that advantage, Tuzos temporarily moved to the top of the division. However, Washington regained control when it equalized in the 67th minute. Following a corner kick, the ball was played back across the face of goal, where Braeden Pryor quickly pounced to hammer it into the goal. Premier faithfully relied on its defense to hold that result, and Pryor put an exclamation point on the game when he got behind the Tuzos defense to slide the game-winner into an open net — sealing the 2-1 win for Washington.
The 16U Blue Division came down to the final minutes with St. Louis Scott Gallagher SC Elite (MO) scoring an important last-minute goal in their 2-0 victory over SCUFC 02 Elite (SC). SLSG needed a win and some goal differential help in order to earn the Blue Division title, as Boca OC 02 White (CA-S) stormed back to nip at its heels in the standings. SLSG took care of business and gained the lead in the 32nd minute thanks to a Ben MacInnes goal. Meanwhile, on the field over, Boca had racked up a 3-0 lead heading into halftime and had a chance to pass SLSG if the Cal South side could earn a victory with a big enough goal differential. In the second half, SLSG continued to search for a goal that could help them fight off any threat in tiebreakers from Boca, but SCUFC put the pressure on. A huge save by Peter Herrmann kept SLSG in the hunt and then relief for the Missouri side came as SCUFC hit the post. As time wound down, Boca had mounted a 7-1 lead in its game. SLSG needed a goal and got it in the last minute as Tilahun Murphy found the back of the net. The score lines remained the same through the final whistle and SLSG earned the Blue Division title and a spot at Nationals.
Each of the four 17U division titles we decided prior to Sunday’s matches.
With a win on Sunday, Washington Premier 2000 Black (WA) secured the 18U Black Division title. Things remained close through one half of play, as Washington and FRAM 00 Lawson (CA-S) entered the second 45 minutes in a scoreless tie. However, Premier broke through with a Zakery Gregg goal in the 52nd minute, only to see Seth Turner net an equalizer for FRAM 11 minutes later. While a draw would have been enough to clinch first place, Washington left no doubt as Gregg converted a 90th-minute penalty kick to give his side the 2-1 victory.
With LVU 2000 Black (PA-E) already having finished its games in Orlando, Sparta 00 JK (UT) controlled its destiny heading into its final match with Fullerton Rangers 00 White (CA-S). Sparta needed a win to clinch the top spot in the 18U White Division and did just that with a scrappy 3-0 victory over Fullerton. Luke Merrill started the scoring for Sparta in just the fourth minute of play, as he spun around a defender to hit a shot beyond the keeper. The keepers for each team came up big during the rest of the half with Fullerton’s Jesus Herrera making multiple saves — some from close range — to keep his team close. Sparta’s Tanner Kennard made his biggest save of the game on Steve Acuna to keep the Utah side in the lead. Fullerton’s Acuna raced down the right side, cut by a defender to the center, and hit a laser of a shot that forced Kennard to make a leaping save to parry the ball over the crossbar. Sparta finished the game off with Max Bingham adding two in the second half to seal Sparta’s spot in the National Championships.