US Youth Soccer National League Girls season kicks off in Wilson, N.C.
Day 1 of 4 complete
Watch 16 of Friday’s Matches Live
WILSON, N.C. (Via US Youth Soccer National League) — The top teams in the country showcased their talent Thursday as several energetic match-ups got the ninth season of US Youth Soccer National League Girls play underway in Wilson, N.C. All 16 teams in each of the Under-14, Under-15, Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 Girls age groups began the 2015-16 National League season at the Wilson Gillette Soccer Complex and Rocky Mount Sports Complex.
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.
More than 275 college coaches, along with several U.S. Soccer coaches and scouts, lined the sidelines on Thursdayand many more are expected to attend this National League weekend to scout some of the top teams and players in the country. The competitive level of each game adds to player evaluation, as every team has to earn their place in the league, regardless of location or club affiliation.
For many teams, Thursday marked their first taste of the National League competition and many were excited to get the season underway.
“You earn your spot as a team in the National League,” Under-14 Tennessee SC 20 coach Deni Ismailovic said. “It’s not given to you as a club. You have to earn your spot here. It’s actually the best teams in the country and that’s what you’re trying to aim and strive for. I think it’s a huge honor for us to be here.”
The difficulty of the competition within each division was on full display on Thursday, as two of the four defending National Champions lost close matchups. With each National League win so hard to come by, coaches like Under-15 Sunrise Sting 00/01 (FL)’s Juan Laureano know the value of every matchup — both within the standings and for the future of the players.
“The only time you are going to improve is when you play better competition, and that’s what we find here. We’re going to find the best competition, the best teams in the nation,” Laureano said. “There’s nothing quite like having the kind of exposure that the National League brings and US Youth Soccer provides for these girls. They’re not going to see anything better than this.”
The National League is an extension of the US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues (US Youth Soccer Region I Champions 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 action will continue Friday, Dec. 4, as the girls teams play their second game of the season. Complete standings, scores and schedules, including goal scorers and match information, can be found at the results page here. Click on the score of each game for more information.
Some highlights from Thursday’s matches…
In a back and forth Under-14 Red Division matchup, United FA 02 Premier (GA) came out victorious over Century V 01/02 Gold (PA-W), 1-0, on the first day of National League play. Both teams had chances in the first half but neither side managed to find the back of the in the opening half as the game went to the break scoreless. United FA broke the deadlock in the 50th minute when Riley McBride found the end of an Arianna Manrique cross in the 50th minute to give her side a 1-0 lead. That proved to be the game-winner as the Georgia side held on to earn three points in the tight matchup.
CUP Gold 01/02 (OH-S) is on top of the Under-14 Red Division following a convincing win against 02 Louisiana Fire Red (LA) in the season opener. The Fire dealt well with immediate CUP pressure, but the Ohio South side eventually took a 17th-minute lead when US Youth Soccer ODP player Ellie Podojil got behind the defense and beat the keeper. Later in the half, fellow ODP player Kailyn Dudukovich doubled the CUP lead when she fired her shot inside the left post. Dudukovich added two more goals after halftime, and Ande Allison, Samantha Dodd and Jenna Kralik each added tallies as CUP wrapped up a big win to kick off its season.
In Under-14 Blue Division play, Empire United SA Rochester (NY-W) jumped on top of Legends FC 01 (CA-S) early with a goal by Emily Parker in the 9th minute. The New York-West side held the lead for almost the entire half until Legends leveled the score in the 33rd minute. Legends’ Laney Carroll broke through on a 1v1 with the keeper but her shot hit the left post and come across the face of goal. Carroll’s teammate Olivia Valdivia crashed the goal and tapped the ball into an open net to bring the score to 1-1 at half. The game remained tied for much of the second half, but Legends broke the tie in the 65th minute to grab a 2-1 victory off a Madi Bennion long throw-in. Bennion threw in a long ball from deep on the sideline into the Empire box but the Empire keeper couldn’t hold the ball, and Carroll poked in the ball from close range to score the winning goal for Legends.
Elsewhere in the Blue Division, Tennessee SC 20 (TN) defeated TFA Elite 01 (OH-S) in an exciting 4-3 game that featured four different lead changes. TFA jumped ahead in the second minute with a Mallory Adler goal, but Tennessee answered just four minutes later when Emily Sanchez scored to level the score at 1-1. Anna Haddock gave Tennessee the lead when she chipped a shot over the TFA keeper from just outside of the box in the 19th minute. TFA leveled the score at 2-2 ten minutes before halftime when Shelby found the end of an Alexis Williams free kick. TFA retook the lead early in the second half when Joie Linville headed in a Lena James corner. Sanchez scored her second goal in the 52nd minute when she got on a 1v1 breakaway with the TFA keeper and slotted her shot into the bottom right to tie the score at 3-3. Sanchez completed her hat-trick with the game winner when she scored in the 57th minute to give Tennessee the 4-3 victory.
In its first National League action, Under-15 Sunrise Sting 00/01 (FL) picked up a 3-0 win against Century V Gold (PA-W) to pick up three points in the Red Division. Sunrise forward Marlee Fray, granddaughter of US Youth Soccer Hall of Fame member Charlotte Moran, put the Florida side in front when she found the back of the net in the fourth minute. Taylor Dobles doubled the lead shortly after halftime when she hit a 20-yard strike inside the left post. Fray added a third goal for Sunrise when she converted a penalty kick in the final minute, as Sting came away with the 3-0 victory.
In the Under-15 Blue Division, Midwest United FC 01 Royal (MI), CUP Gold 00/01 (OH-S) and Greater Binghamton United FC (NY-W) each picked up wins on Thursday. Midwest United holds an early place on top of the table thanks to goal differential after a dominant victory.
In a rematch of a group play game at the 2015 US Youth Soccer National Championships, Carlsbad Elite 99 (CA-S) held off FC Pennsylvania Strikers (PA-E) to record a 1-0 win in Under-16 Blue Division play. U.S. Under-16 Girls National Team player Sierra Enge put the Cal South side in front when she beat the keeper in the 13th minute. The Strikers — who were 2-0 victors when the teams met at Nationals — pushed for an equalizer, but the Carlsbad defense fought off the pressure. Enge’s tally proved to be the difference, as Carlsbad picked up a key victory to open its season.
The Under-16 Red Division saw 2015 National Championships finalist La Roca Premier PO (UT) pick up a big win to start its season. Meanwhile, defending National Champion Legends FC 99 (CA-S) fell, 2-1, to Cleveland FC (OH-N). SDFC Panthera (NJ) also picked up a win on the first day of play to keep pace at the top of the division standings.
In Under-17 Blue Division play, Kings Hammer Academy Red (KY) earned a 1-0 victory over Lou Fusz – Wipke (MO) in a tight matchup. The Kentucky side got off to a quick start by recording the breakthrough goal in the fourth minute. After the Lou Fusz keeper saved an initial attempt on goal, KHA’s Caitlyn Grooms got to the rebound and hit it home to give her side an early advantage. That goal stood up, as the KHA defense kept Lou Fusz off the scoreboard to record a clean sheet to open its National League season.
In the Under-17 Red Division, Beach FC 98 Academy (CA-S), YMS Premier Xplosion 98 (PA-E), Arsenal FC Bowers (CA-S) and FC Kansas City Forte Elite (MO) each picked up wins. The win for YMS gets them off on the right track as the Pennsylvania side looks to get back to Nationals and advance to its fourth straight National final.
In a rematch of the last two US Youth Soccer National Championship games, Under-18 Beach FC Academy 97 (CA-S) beat defending champion Tampa Bay United 97 Premier (FL), 4-3, in a thrilling Red Division game. Beach took an early lead on a Jessica Johnson goal, but Lindsey Eaton recorded an equalizer for Tampa Bay in the 18th minute. The Florida side grabbed the lead shortly after when Elisha Holmes headed a well-placed cross just under the cross bar. Beach came close to leveling the score when it hit the bar before halftime, but Logan Karam tied the game after the break with a 67th-minute goal. The Cal South side struck quickly shortly after, as Taylor Bistline and Kaitlin Fregulia put Beach up, 4-2. Samantha Betters pulled Tampa with a goal with an 85th-minute strike, but Beach held on for the hard-fought 4-3 victory in the matchup of familiar foes.
The Under-18 Blue Division featured four shutouts on the opening day of play, as Tennessee SC 16 (TN), Syracuse Development Academy 97/98 (NY-W), KHA Red (OH-S) and Carlsbad Elite 97/98 (CA-S) each entered the win column on Thursday. Many of the games were close, as the largest victory was Tennessee SC’s 3-0 win that included a goal in the final minute of regulation.