Youth Soccer News: Standings Taking Shape As Day 3 Concludes
Just one more day remains in the opening weekend of 2014-15 US Youth Soccer National League Girls play, with matches solidifying team standings until the next meeting in Orlando, FL, Dec. 31 – Jan. 2, alongside the Disney Showcase.
The third day of league play in Wilson, N.C., tends to separate the field as teams settle in after an anxious start to the season. While several teams have begun to make strides in the group standings, no division has a clear favorite to claim the title. The top two teams in seven of the 10 divisions are separated by one point or less, and six of the divisions contain ties atop the standings.
The competitiveness of the league has been on full display through three days of play in North Carolina, as just five teams remain unbeaten and untied. Combined with the fact that spots in the 2015 US Youth Soccer National Championships are on the line, the National League games provide college coaches and U.S. Soccer staff the opportunity to see how the teams and players perform in an intense environment.
“We’re here this week looking at all the National League teams that are represented, continuing the process of identifying players for our Youth National Team programs,” said Todd Hoffard, U.S. Soccer goalkeeper coach and Women’s Youth National Team scout. “Obviously, we have players who are competing here this weekend who are already in our National Team pools, and we’re trying to keep track and monitor their progress, as well.”
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 Tulsa, OK.
“At the end of the day, when you’re looking at Youth National Team players, you want a very competitive environment. Fortunately, the National League and a competition like this is a very competitive environment,” Hoffard said. “We want players who are willing to compete and battle, probably against players they don’t typically get to see on a regular basis. For us, it’s events like this that are really key components to us identifying players for the Youth National Teams.”
The National League is an extension of the highly successful US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues (US Youth Soccer Region I Champions League, Midwest Regional League, Region III 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.
Some Highlights from Saturday’s Matches
Michigan Jaguars Green (MI) and Greater Binghamton United FC (NY-W) are tied atop the Under-14 Blue Division after three days of play at the Rocky Mount Athletic Complex. However, three teams are right behind them as they sit at five points in the very tight standings.
The Under-14 Red Division standings are just as tight, with five teams having at least six points after three games. CUP Gold 00/01 (OH-S) recorded a big win on Saturday to jump to the top of the division standings, as the Ohio side is the lone team in the group with without a loss.
Grand Rapids Crew Jrs. 00 Gold (MI) is in the middle of the Under-15 Blue Division race after a 2-0 win Saturday against Century V X-treme (PA-W). The Michigan side started quickly, as Riley Tanner scored in the opening minute to give her side an early advantage. In the 52nd minute, Emily Ashby got on the end of a dangerous free kick and placed her header into the far corner to help Crew come away with the 2-0 victory.
Legends FC 99 (CA-S) recorded its third shutout of the week, as it defeated Team Chicago Academy – Cruzeiro (IL), 3-0, in an Under-15 Red Division matchup. Emily Knous took just two minutes to open the scoring for Legends, and Kaylee Ramirez extended the lead when she found the back of the net shortly after halftime. Knous added her fourth goal of the season in the 65th minute, as the California side stayed atop the division standings with the victory.
Defending National Champion JFC Storm 98/99 (FL) earned its third win in the Under-16 Red Division, as it hung on for a 3-2 victory on Saturday against Pride Predators 99 (CO). The Colorado side took an early lead on Ashlee Workman‘s 8th-minute goal, but JFC responded shortly after with a strike from Leah Ferlin to level the score. In the 34th minute, the Pride keeper did well to tip a free kick off the bar, but Brogan Boudreaux hit in the rebound to put JFC in front. The Florida side got another friendly bounce a few minutes later when Ferlin’s blast from distance hit off the underside of the crossbar before bouncing in to give JFC a 3-1 advantage. Madeline Alhamra added a late goal for Pride, but JFC closed out the match and recorded the 3-2 win.
Arsenal FC-S Bowers (CA-S) moved into a tie atop the Under-16 Blue Division with a 1-0 win over NSA Rockets (IL). After a scoreless first half, Emma Vanderhyden finally broke through for the California side when she found the back of the net in the 57th minute. The Arsenal defense did the rest, as it recorded a clean sheet in the win.
After playing to a scoreless draw on Saturday, Tampa Bay United 97 Premier (FL) and Carlsbad Elite 97/98 (CA-S) find themselves in a familiar place — together atop their division. Carlsbad edged Tampa Bay for first in their group last season, and the two Under-17 Blue Division teams are on track to find themselves near the top of the standings once again. Carlsbad created one of the best chances on Saturday, as a deflected shot rang off the post but stayed out. Both defenses held the opposition in check as the teams split the points with the draw.
After playing to a tie on Saturday, KHA Red (OH-S) and NJ Stallions Dynamite (NJ) are two of four teams with four points in the tightly packed Under-17 Blue Division. Each side’s defense made several key interventions to uphold a clean sheet, as the game ended in a 0-0 draw. With every team in the division having at least one point and just three points separating first from sixth place, each side could find itself near the top of the standings with a win on Sunday.
MRM Coyotes (MD) have played three tight games, including Saturday’s draw against Region II Champions FC United Select (IL). The Under-17 Red Division foes couldn’t break through against the opposing defenses, as they each settled for the scoreless tie and a point in the standings. With the group bunched up closely in the table, both MRM and FC United could jump right into the thick of the race for a top-two finish with wins on Sunday.
Carlsbad Elite (CA-S) got back on the winning track in the Under-18 Red Division, as it used a second-half goal to edge KC Metro Dynamos (KS), 1-0. Neither side could break through in the first 45 minutes, as the teams went to half in a scoreless tie. In the 66th minute, Chelsea Churchill gave Carlsbad the lead when she found the back of the net, and the California side’s defense made sure the goal held up in the 1-0 victory.
Two-time National Championship finalist Kings Hammer Academy (OH-S) played to a 2-2 tie with Legacy 97 Red (AZ) in Under-18 Blue Division action. Riana Metzger scored to put Legacy in front in the sixth minute, but Bayley Feist equalized for Kings Hammer with a 20th-minute strike. The Ohio side took the lead in the 70th minute lead thanks to a Patrice Dipasquale tally. However, LaMaya Williams responded for Legacy just four minutes later and the match ended with the score level at 2-2.
National League Girls teams will wrap up their opening week of play on Sunday, Nov. 23, as they each play their fourth 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.