US Youth Soccer National League Season Preview: 18U Girls
(Via US Youth Soccer) – The US Youth Soccer National League 2017-2018 season kicks off November 30 with the start of the girls’ event in North Carolina. Continue reading for a season preview of the 18U girls age group.
At the 18U age group, each team is tried and tested, but it helps to have the experience of winning the US Youth Soccer National Championship. That’s the case for one of the main 18U Girls Black Division contenders, CDA Premier 00 (OH-S), which won the National title after winning its division during the 2016-17 National League season.
Playing as CUP 00 Gold (OH-S), the Ohio South side went undefeated in last year’s National League, as it compiled six wins and a tie. CDA showed it could rely on both its front and back lines during its success last season, as it first shut down opponents during its league season — conceding just three times in seven games. The offense helped carry it to the National title in Frisco, Texas, as CDA scored three goals in three of its five matches. The ability to beat teams in a variety of ways will make the Ohio South side a favorite to finish at the top of the Black Division.
This group will feature a rematch from Nationals, as Utah Celtic FC 00 Premier (UT) will look to avenge a 3-2 group play defeat to CDA in Frisco when they meet this season in the Black Division. Celtic did go on to advance to the National Championship semifinals, and it can now draw on the experience from that level to make a run at the Black Division title.
The Black Division also features the only team to take points from CDA in last year’s National League action — Rebels SC Elite 00 (CA-S). The Cal South side finished second in the division a year ago, so it has the ability to win the group and earn the accompanying berth to Nationals.
With a combined record of 13-1-0 over the last two National League seasons, Midwest United FC 00 Royal (MI) is a clear favorite to finish at the top of the 18U Girls Blue Division standings. Midwest United was very balanced in that 14-game span, as it scored 46 goals and conceded just six in the course of its two straight National League division title-winning campaigns.
While Midwest United will get the best shot of each opponent it faces, the Michigan side also has some added motivation to earn its way back to Nationals with a Blue Division title. After claiming the National title in 2016, Midwest United came up short at the 2017 National Championships — falling in penalties in the final — and will surely want to reclaim its status as the top team in the country.
The Michigan side will have to navigate a group of teams that missed out on Nationals last season despite some strong performances in the National League. Among them is Princeton SA (NJ), which not only finished third in its National League division last year, but advanced to the US Youth Soccer Region I Championships final. After coming up just short of advancing to Nationals, Princeton will aim to take that next step by winning the Blue Division.
FC Pride 00 Elite (IN) and Greater Seattle Surf 00 (WA) are in a similar mindset, as each finished second in its respective National League division last season. Both had a shot to win their group with a result on the season’s final day, so they know how each little detail can be the difference in winning a division title.
Past experience playing in the National League is always a plus, and a division title on a resume always adds valuable experience for a team. Scottsdale Blackhawks Taylor (AZ) goes a step farther, as it enters this year’s 18U Girls Red Division campaign, having gone 7-0-0 in the league last season. That proven ability to find ways to win will make Scottsdale a favorite to repeat as the Red Division winner, but it will also put a target on its back for each opponent it faces.
The Blackhawks performed well under pressure last year in North Carolina, as they won each of their four games by a one-goal margin. And with everything on the line in the season’s final game, Scottsdale once again earned a 1-0 victory to seal the perfect season and division title. A tiebreaker ended the Blackhawks run at Nationals, so that should serve as motivation to repeat as Red Division champions this year.
A familiar foe awaits Scottsdale in the Red Division, as Sporting Omaha FC Elite 2000 (NE) should compete for a top finish. The Nebraska side tied, 1-1, with Scottsdale during group play at the 2017 National Championships and earned three wins and a draw during National League play a season ago. Sporting competed as the US Youth Soccer Region II Championships representative at Nationals, and with the National Championship finalists each coming from that region, Sporting is familiar with what it takes to compete against the tops teams in the country — making it a team to watch in the Red Division.
Meanwhile, PacNW 00 Maroon (WA) and Livermore Fusion (CA-N) have shown an ability to excel in a league format, as they compiled superb records in their respective divisions of the US Youth Soccer Far West Regional League.
A mixture of teams coming off success in US Youth Soccer National Championship Series, National League and Regional League play look to be the favorites in the 18U Girls White Division. After taking the division title a season ago, Legends FC 00 Academy 2 (CA-S) will be the team to beat. The Cal South side went 5-0-2 in the 2016-17 season, and used a tie on the final day of play to hold on to win a tight White Division race.
One of the teams that was not far behind Legends last year was HBC Impact 00 (NY-E), and the Eastern New York side is once again looking to finish on top of the White Division. HBC used a hot start in North Carolina last season to pick up three wins and a tie — a 1-1 draw with Legends. The Impact dropped a couple games in its second week of play to fall out of title contention, but it got back on track during US Youth Soccer NCS action.
At the US Youth Soccer Region I Championships, HBC outscored opponents 12-to-2 to win all five games and take the title. It carried that momentum to Frisco, where it made an appearance in the semifinals. Those experiences should help HBC this season, as it takes another shot at capturing the White Division title.
Century V Gold (PA-W) is another team that is looking to improve on a couple of close calls from last season. The Pennsylvania West side finished second in its National League division, as it compiled 15 points on five wins. It also put together a runner-up finish in the US Youth Soccer Eastern Regional League, so Century certainly knows how to handle league play. If it can draw from that experience, Century should be in the hunt for this season’s White Division crown.
Brecken Mozingo (Celtic FC) – U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team
Summer Yates (PacNW) – U.S. U-18 Women’s National Team; U.S. U-19 Women’s National Team
Megan Oduyoye (CDA) – Best XI at the National Championships
Talani Barnett (HBC Impact) – Best XI at the National Championships
Emily Chiao (Scottsdale Blackhawks) – Best XI at the National Championships
Allison Romero (Sporting Omaha FC) – Best XI at the National Championships
Myla Sharpless (Century) – Leading scorer at the Region I Championships with seven goals
Anna Pickering (Celtic FC) – Tied for leading scorer at the Region IV Championships with eight goals
Jaida Thomas (DFeeter) – Leading scorer in the 2016-17 National League season with 11 goals
2017 US Youth Soccer ODP Girls Thanksgiving Interregional – 2002 Roster
Midwest Region – Maya Dean (Midwest United)
West Region – Gabriella Franco (Washington Rush)
2017 US Youth Soccer ODP Girls Thanksgiving Interregional – 2000/2001 Roster
East Region – Nina Carlomusto (HBC Impact); Kelsey DeLola (Syracuse DA)
South Region – Macey Hodge (SSA)
West Region – Emily Chiao (Scottsdale Blackhawks); Jordan Crockett (Celtic FC); Katie Haskins (Celtic FC); Chelsea Peterson (Celtic FC); Jamie Shepherd (Celtic FC)