WESTFIELD, Ind. (May 7, 2022) — The USYS National League’s Grand Park College Showcase continued on Saturday, as teams from the Great Lakes Conference and Midwest Conference competed in league games at the Grand Park Sports Campus.
The action at Grand Park features boys and girls teams from the Great Lakes Conference, along with boys teams from the Midwest Conference. In all, more than 160 teams from the top-tier divisions (Premier I and Club vs. Club) of both conferences are playing in meaningful games this weekend in Indiana, with spots in the 2022 USYS Midwest Regional Championships and qualification for the 2022-23 season of National League P.R.O. on the line.
Take a look at few storylines from Saturday’s action…
Midwest 15U Boys Club vs. Club Division
Madison 56ers 2007 Boys Red (WI) moved into a tie at the top of the standings by handing JB Marine Academy Baum 2007B (MO) its first loss of the season on Saturday.
The Missouri side entered the game with three wins from its first three games, but the Madison 56ers put together a complete performance to secure a 3-0 victory. The win marked the second time Madison managed to get the best of JB Marine this season, as it also secured a shutout win when the two sides met during National League P.R.O.
Madison 56ers coach Tim Bruner said it was a close game and credited JB Marine for the growth its shown during the course of this year. With the Missouri side at the top of the standings entering the game, his team knew it had a challenge.
“In terms of the table, we dropped a match earlier in this season, so this was one that we absolutely needed three points from,” Bruner said. “We came in with the mindset that it was all gas and no brakes.”
Bruner also said that it’s good for the Madison 56ers teams to test themselves in the Club vs. Club Division against opponents from larger population areas, such as St. Louis.
“For us, it’s good to get out of our comfort zone and go deal with that,” Bruner said. “Big-time developmental progress comes out of matches like that because it’s not necessarily anything we’ll see back home.”
Great Lakes 16U Boys Club vs. Club Division
CUP 06 Gold (OH) maintained its spot atop the standings with a 2-0 victory against Michigan Jaguars 2006 Boys NLC (MI).
With the victory, the Ohio side moved to 5-0-0 and is close to securing the top spot in the division. After a third-place finish in its Great Lakes Conference division last year, CUP 06 Gold is motivated to finish strong this season.
“It feels good to get the win today. We got one more game and then we’ll go straight to Regionals,” CUP midfielder Kellan Ren said. “We did the job today and need to get back at it tomorrow. It means a lot to us because last year we fell basically a goal short for everything. It feels good to be able to come out here to compete for a chance to advance to the next level.”
Midwest 18U Boys Club vs. Club Division
SC Wave Juniors 04 Boys (WI) showed some resiliency in a 4-2 win against Libertyville FC 1974 Elite-04 Boys (IL) — a result that gave the Wisconsin side its second straight win to start its conference season.
SC Wave went up 2-0 in the first half but, despite controlling the game for chunks of time, saw Libertyville fight back to pull level at 2-2 late the second half. It took just a few minutes for SC Wave to respond and retake the lead, and it added a late insurance goal to secure the 4-2 victory.
SC Wave coach Daniel Mattos, who previously coached some of the Libertyville players while at that club, said he is happy with the strong start after a pair of challenges to start the Midwest Conference season.
“I told the boys that this was a great lesson for us,” Mattos said. “I felt we were the better team on the field for the most part of the game. We created a lot chances, but at the end of the day that’s why this the beautiful game — it’s not always the best team or the best performance that wins. It almost cost us, but I’m super happy the boys stuck in and found a way to come out with the good result.”
Great Lakes 17U Girls Premier I Division
In a Great Lakes matchup that also counted as a National League P.R.O. game, Tonka Fusion Elite 05 Girls (MN) secured a 3-0 shutout victory against Hotspurs 2005G Blue (PA-W).
While the win helped the Minnesota side move into the top half of the Great Lakes Conference standings, it also propelled Tonka Fusion to the top of the National League P.R.O. standings and allowed it to claim the Group E title.
“There was lot riding on this game. We’ve been waiting for this game for a couple of months now,” Tonka Fusion coach Jessica Kodiak said. “The girls knew the pressure but were also really pumped up. It was a definitely a team effort all around. Goals from three different players and being able to get another shutout — it really speaks to the high level of the team.”
Tonka Fusion will now prepare to go to the USYS National Championships as a National League P.R.O. title-winner. The team competed at Nationals a few years ago, and Kodiak believes they’re heading to Orlando this summer as an improved side thanks to some of the experiences in the Great Lakes Conference and National League P.R.O.
“It’s really great to be able to play different approaches in how they look at the game,” Kodiak said. “It gives our girls versatility of different ways of defending and attacking. Every year, we’ve seen growth and, especially this year, it has been super fun to see it all come together.”
Great Lakes 16U Girls Premier I Division
Century V - Steel G2006 Blue (PA-W) had a chance to remain perfect and on pace to move into the Top 2 in the standings, but it ran into a determined NWI Lions United 2006G Yellow (IN). The Indiana side grabbed a one-goal lead and added a late insurance goal to secure a 2-0 victory.
NWI Lions United are now 3-2-1 on the season and moved into the top half of the Premier I standings with the three points earned on Saturday.
“It definitely gives us more confidence going into future games, and it’s just a big win overall,” NWI Lions midfielder Ava Haluska said. “Our goals for the season, overall, were obviously to try to win as much as can, but we’ve been working on switching the field and defending as a team, and I feel like we’ve done better as the season has gone on.”
The Grand Park College Showcase will wrap up on Sunday, with the first games kicking off at 7:30 a.m.