US Youth Soccer National League Boys wrap up play in Orlando
ORLANDO, Fla. (Via US Youth Soccer) — The US Youth Soccer National League Boys teams competing this week wrapped up their 2016-17 seasons on Thursday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports and ChampionsGate Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida, as they played alongside the Disney Soccer Showcase.
The 64 remaining boys teams will finish their seasons and solidify the league standings March 10-12 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
League play will continue on Saturday when 64 National League Girls teams continue their seasons, playing alongside the Disney Soccer Showcase at the ESPN Wide World of Sports and ChampionsGate Sports Complex.
Just two division titles and three berths to Nationals were secured during the boys’ week — leaving a lot to play for when the remaining teams meet in Las Vegas to determine the final 17 berths to the National Championships.
Now in its third National League season, McLean 00 Green (VA) has made an improvement each season — going from sixth in 2014-15 to second a year ago. This year, the defending National Champions continued to see improvement, as they captured the 17U Black Division title. McLean head coach Jamil Walker said he can see improvement in his players after each National League season.
“The competition each year in the National League is the top in the country,” Walker said. “You get to see teams from a variety of different regions, which is important for us to prepare for Nationals. Facing these National League teams each year has prepared us every time we’ve been able to go on and play in the summer at Nationals.”
2017 US Youth Soccer National Championship Qualifiers via the National League
Red Champion: Lobos Rush 01 Premier (TN)
Black Champion: McLean 00 Green (VA)*
Red: Penn Fusion 98 (PA-E)
Some highlights from Thursday’s matches…
CESA 02 Premier (SC) pulled off a 2-1 comeback victory over Bethesda SC South 02 (VA). Determined to clinch one of the final two spots in the 15U Blue Division, Bethesda pressured CESA with consecutive shots, keeping CESA goalkeeper Samuel Nabors busy. Bethesda came close to pulling ahead when Jaden Robinson served a driven cross for Branden Johns to head the ball straight at Nabors. In the second half, CESA’s Luis Elizondo-Villasis got through the defenders and hit the ball off the inside of the left post to find that it had bounced out. Immediately after on the other end, Tanner Baldwin sent the ball straight into the upper left corner of the net for a Bethesda lead. While Bethesda searched for another, CESA snuck in a 71st-minute goal when Elizondo-Villasis chest trapped the ball and slipped it into the goal. With the game even, CESA’s Brayam Gil finished the game-winner in stoppage time.
In the 16U Blue Division, GSA 01 Premier (GA) picked up a 2-0 win over 01 Charlotte SA Predator (NC) to extend its lead atop the standings to four points. CSA didn’t make it easy, as the North Carolina side did well to defend several first-half free kicks from GSA, as the teams went to the break scoreless. Miguel Gonzalez created the breakthrough goal for GSA in the 53rd minute when he worked his way around several defenders to get into the box and place a left-footed strike past the keeper. The Georgia side doubled its lead eight minutes later, as Mekhi Royes cut a pass back to Denilson Silva-Banda, who laced a shot into the back of the net. The goal capped the 2-0 win that helped GSA finish its National League campaign with a 4-2-1 record.
In a winner-take-all matchup, McLean 00 Green (VA) held on for a 1-1 draw against Nationals Union 00 Black (MI) to claim the 17U Black Division title. With both sides able to win the division with a victory on Thursday, the game entered its late stages in a scoreless draw. In the 72nd minute, Nationals Union’s Alex Steinwascher turned and shot from 8 yards out and forced McLean keeper Tony Ducic to push the attempt over the bar. Shortly after, McLean worked the ball into its attacking end and earned a penalty kick, which William Blake converted to give his side the lead. The Michigan side pushed back and netted an equalizer in the 89th minute when Cameron Wilde headed home a corner kick. However, McLean held off the late push from Nationals Union to earn the 1-1 draw — enough to give the Virginia side the division title and a shot at defending its National title in Frisco, Texas.
FC Dallas 00 Che (TX-N) had a chance to extend its lead at the top of the 17U White Division, but it instead suffered its first loss of the season in a 2-1 defeat to Tennessee United SC 00 Red (TN). Riley Indermuehle put TUSC up in the 5th minute, and the Tennessee side pushed the advantage to 2-0 midway through the half when Tyler Jessen found the back of the net. FC Dallas pulled within one shortly before halftime on a Josh Stone strike, but the TUSC defense held strong in the second half to secure the 2-1 victory. FC Dallas will have to wait and see if its four-point lead over Sparta 00 JK (UT) will hold up during Las Vegas play.
BRYC 99 Elite (VA) came away with a 1-0 win against UFA Premier (GA) to finish the week on top of the 18U Blue Division. UFA entered the day looking to extend its first-place lead, but BRYC had other ideas as it remained organized to keep the Georgia side off the scoreboard. BRYC’s Julien Reininger provided the game’s lone goal in the 62nd minute, as he got on the end of a cross and hit a lofted header that dipped just under the crossbar. United FA’s John Crawley put a late header on goal, but the BRYC keeper made a diving stop to seal the win. The Virginia side will need help in Las Vegas in order to keep its place on top of the standings.
Dix Hills Hurricanes (NY-E) remains at the top of the 18U Red Division after defeating CESA 99 Premier (SC), 2-1. CESA created several plays to get the ball rolling, but it became more of an even match after Dix Hills’ first goal, which was a penalty kick taken by Leo Musacchia. In the 59th minute, Nassim Al-nawasreh evened the match for CESA as he found an opening through the defenders and slot the ball into the net. A cross cut back from Nicholas Acquafredda to Samuel Steinberg, who redirected the ball at the goal, nearly gave Dix Hills the go-ahead goal. However, just a few minutes later, Acquafredda came back, fought off pressure and drilled the ball near post for the 86th game winner. The win improves Dix Hills to a 5-1-1 record.
OFC 98 (OK) earned some much needed points after defeating 98 CASL Red (NC), 2-1. OFC stands on top of the 19/20U Blue Division standings with 14 points, but it is a tight race for the finish as Loudoun 98 Red (VA) sits in second with 13 points, while idle Challenger Crew Jrs Gold 98 (OH-N) holds 10. OFC too, control of the game from the beginning with several chances at goal. CASL had its first clear shot of the game when Christopher Wallace drove the ball just wide left of the goal. Off of an OFC corner kick, Daryl Dike was on the end to send the ball toward the goal, which almost made its way in if it weren’t for a CASL defender to clear the ball at the goal line. OFC kept the ball close to CASL’s goal and Dike was able to bury a goal just before halftime. In the second half, OFC increased its lead as Dike received and trapped a long ball, slicing the ball back for Dante Brigida to blast an upper corner finish. OFC proceeded to pound shots, but CASL goalkeeper Jacob Kendall was always quick to make the saves. CASL got on the board with a long shot from Wallace that lobbed into the side netting. However, OFC maintained the lead for the victory.