US Youth Soccer National League Boys Orlando Day 2 Recap
ORLANDO, Fla. (Via US Youth Soccer) — The 2016-17 US Youth Soccer National League Boys showcased their talents in front of hundreds of college coaches on Wednesday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports and ChampionsGate Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla., alongside the Disney Soccer Showcase.
The boys teams competing in Orlando will wrap up their season on Thursday, while the rest of the league will compete March 10-12 in Las Vegas before standings are finalized.
The first two teams — 16U Lobos Rush 01 Premier (TN) and 19/20U Penn Fusion 98 (PA-E) — earned a berth to the 2017 US Youth Soccer National Championships, with Lobos also securing the first division title of the year. Meanwhile, several other teams inched closer to punching their tickets to Nationals by earning important results.
With the competitiveness of the National League divisions, earning a point with a tie can prove to be just as vital as picking up a win. That may turn out to be the case for 17U Baltimore Celtic SC 2000 (MD), which came back twice from a goal down to secure a 2-2 draw on Wednesday — keeping the Maryland side on top of its division.
Baltimore coach Barry Stitz said his team’s effort to earn the point helped it take one more step to its ultimate goal of securing a berth to the National Championships with a National League division title. But Stitz also said it was representative of the type of matchups he and his players are looking for in the National League.
“No game in the National League is easy. It’s a game like this when you really get pushed that you have a chance to elevate your game and develop as a player,” Stitz said. “When the game is on the line, who wants the ball? Who’s making that extra run back when they’re dead tired? You see all of that in a game like that.”
The National League features 256 teams in the 15U through 19/20U Boys and Girls age groups. With teams in each age group divided into eight-team divisions, each side has had to earn its place in the league through success in US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues and National Championship Series play.
Some highlights from Wednesday’s matches…
In the 15U Red Division, DE Rush 02 (DE) took a 1-0 win over Baltimore Celtic 2002 (MD). The goal came from Oryem Kilama early in the first half when he followed up a shot, stole the ball from a defender and slipped a shot past the goalkeeper. Rush constantly earned set pieces in their favor, and Ndeh Tima had a strong look at goal as he took a free kick that skimmed over the crossbar. While Celtic gained a rhythm and built a few promising chances in the second half, Rush also searched for another goal to earn some breathing room. Kilama nearly scored his second goal when he ran onto a through ball and faced a 1-v-1 with the goalkeeper, but the final shot never came. Ultimately, Rush walked away with the win.
After defeating Penn Fusion 01 Elite (PA-E), 3-1, Lobos Rush 01 Premier (TN) clinched the 16U Red Division title and is on its way to the 2017 US Youth Soccer National Championships. Lobos Rush holds a perfect record of 6-0-0 with one last game to play on Thursday. The game kicked off with Penn Fusion maintaining possession of the ball and taking early shots with several attempts coming from Corron Hovington. After a counter attack brought Lobos Rush into their offensive half — leading to a corner kick — Gustavo Jimenez launched a long shot into the side netting for the 23rd-minute lead. Lobos Rush made it a 2-0 game when Will Pucek ran onto a ball that was sent over the defenders and placed the shot in the upper right corner of the goal. Despite enduring the deficit, it was not a one-sided game as Penn Fusion pushed to earn a goal of its own. In the second half, Pucek increased the lead once more as he outran a defender to win the ball and slot into the net’s bottom left corner. Penn Fusion did get on the board with a goal from Aden Slifer, but Lobos Rush claimed the victory.
Baltimore Celtic SC 2000 (MD) came back from a pair of deficits to earn a 2-2 draw against CASL Red 00 North (NC). Baltimore and CASL entered the day in first and second, respectively, in the 17U Blue Division, and the excitement of the game reflected that fact. CASL grabbed a 28th-minute lead when Camden Holbrook curled a left-footed free kick into the left side netting. That advantage held until Baltimore’s John Nolan hit a rocket in off the underside of the crossbar to level the score in the 60th minute. Holbrook scored once more to help CASL regain the lead, but Justin Gielen rose up to head home an 88th-minute corner kick to pull Baltimore even. Celtic came within inches of netting a stoppage time winner, but a header off from a dangerous free kick was cleared off the line by a quick-reacting CASL defender to help secure the 2-2 draw. With the teams splitting the points, Baltimore maintains a one-point advantage over CASL in the standings.
Defending National Champion McLean 00 Green (VA) dropped its first points of the season as it played to a scoreless draw with Davie United Sharks Blue (FL) in 17U Black Division action. McLean — which entered the day with a chance to secure the division title — nearly grabbed a 54th-minute lead, but the Davie United keeper made a reaction save to deny a quick shot from inside the box. Davie replied with a good spell of pressure around the 75th minute that led to three corner kicks. However, McLean defended them well and grabbed an advantage when a Davie player was sent off in the 80th minute. The Virginia side couldn’t capitalize on its man advantage in the final 10 minutes, as the teams settled for the tie. With that result and a Nationals Union 00 Black (MI) win on Wednesday, the race for the Black Division title is wide open heading into Thursday.
A late surge helped Concorde Fire Elite 99 (GA) come back for a 3-1 win over Delaware Rush 99 (DE) — moving the Georgia side to the top of the 18U White Division standings. Concorde had to work for the win, as Jason Blackwell spotted Delaware an early advantage with his 9th-minute goal. Rush tried to hold on to that lead, as Concorde created a majority of the chances throughout the match. Delaware keeper Jason Sommer denied a couple of Concorde shots from inside the box — a low drive from Dennis Pyetsukh just before half and a Osvaldo Cabrales shot from a tough angle in the 68th minute. However, Concorde finally equalized when Kalen Campbell ran onto a long ball and placed his shot inside the right post. Alex Field then gave the Georgia side an 81st-minute lead when he cut his shot back into the left side netting after making a nice run with the ball into the box. Brando Franco capped the 3-1 win with another goal a minute a later. Concorde will look to finish its week with another win on Thursday, as it tries to create some breathing room between itself and the teams who will be playing in Las Vegas.
Dallas Texans 99 Red (TX-N) moved into a tie for first place in the 18U Black Division with a 2-1 win on Wednesday against 99 North United Premier (PA-W). Neither side managed to break the deadlock in the first half, but Dallas’ Wyatt Priest changed that in the 56th minute when he found the back of the net. Priest extended his side’s lead in the 73rd minute, as he registered his second strike of the game. Joshua Luchini pulled North United within one with a late goal, but Dallas hung on to secure the 2-1 win. The Texans are now even with idle OP Green (OH-S) at 12 points in the standings.
A 3-0 victory for Penn Fusion 98 (PA-E) over CESA 98 Premier (SC) keeps the Eastern Pennsylvania side on top of the 19/20U Red Division with a record of 5-1-0. Quinn Dudek opened the scoring in the 37th minute when he took an open shot at the top of the 18-yard box, sending the ball diagonally to the upper left side of the net. Soon after the goal, CESA nearly tied the game as Robert Robinson fired a high shot, but Penn Fusion goalkeeper Anthony Marcucci was there to block the ball. In the second half, Penn Fusion made it a 2-0 game as a cross was sent into the box for Colin Fagan to redirect the ball into the goal. To top off the match, Aiden McFadden picked up an open ball from 12 yards out and rifled the ball off the crossbar which landed in the net. The win helped Penn Fusion secure a top two finish in the division standings.
OFC 98 (OK) recorded a close 1-0 win over Loudoun 98 Red (VA), propelling OFC to the top of the 19/20U Blue Division standings. OFC will have to continue the momentum as the team stands only one point ahead of Loudoun and Challenger Crew Jrs Gold 98 (OH-N), who are both tied for second. For the majority of the first half, OFC held onto possession of the ball, but the game remained scoreless after 45 minutes. Early in the second half, OFC drove a cross on the ground for Daryl Dike to finish a first-time shot into the goal. Although Loudoun piled on the pressure and created several opportunities, OFC’s defense stood strong — preventing an equalizer and allowing the team to take the 1-0 victory.