WESTFIELD, Ind. (May 8, 2022) — The USYS National League’s Grand Park College Showcase wrapped up play on Sunday, as teams from the Great Lakes Conference and Midwest Conference competed in the last of more than 150 league games played this weekend at the Grand Park Sports Campus.
The action at Grand Park featured 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 played 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 Sunday’s action…
Midwest 18U Boys Premier I Division
MFJ 04B Elite (MI) held on for a 2-1 win against Unified Bayern Munich 04 (MO) to move to 4-0-0 as it enters the final stretch of the season.
The win allowed MFJ to pull even with Bayern on 12 points in the standings after the Missouri side had started its campaign 4-2-0. MFJ is keeping pace with Raiders FC 2004 (IL), which also sits at 4-0-0 and has a game to play later in the day on Sunday.
The win on Sunday marked the Michigan side’s third of the weekend, including a comeback from three goals down on Friday. MFJ coach Stuart Collins said the goal entering the final game of the weekend was to grind out a result against a tough Unified Bayern side that employed some challenging tactics.
“We want to be in all those platforms (conference play can lead to). We want to be competing in Regionals — that’s a goal for this team,” Collins said. “Next week against Raiders is huge for us. Just to get over the line today was important. It wasn’t about the performance. Even though the performance was good, it was more about just getting a result.”
Great Lakes 15U Boys Club vs. Club Division
Michigan Tigers 2007 Boys Gold (MI) and CUP 07B Gold (OH) faced off on Sunday in a winner-take-all matchup, as both teams entered the day at 5-0-0 in the standings.
The Tigers grabbed control of the game and built a 3-0 lead early into the second half before CUP pulled back a goal. However, the Michigan side saw out the rest of the game to hold on for the 3-1 win and claim the division title.
Having played in the Great Lakes Conference the last few years — and coming off a National League P.R.O. top-two finish — the Tigers have seen benefits from challenging themselves against talented competition.
“It feels really good (to win the division). All the competition we’ve had this year in Club vs. Club was really good,” Michigan Tigers midfielder Tyson McCoy said. “We’re happy to be at the top. Playing against all these high-level teams has helped us grow mentally and physically. Playing all these really talented kids has just made us better.”
Great Lakes 15U Girls Club vs. Club Division
GTFC Impact Girls 07 Premier (OH) moved to the top of the standings following a 4-0 win against Indy Premier 07G Elite I (IN) on Sunday.
The Ohio side has utilized a stout defense to power its strong start to the season, as GTFC 07 has conceded just one goal through its first four games. GTFC faces fellow undefeated side Fort Wayne United 07G Academy (IN) next weekend in a game that will dictate which team is in the driver’s seat heading into the division’s final weeks of the season.
GTFC coach Cayleb Paulino said it has been a great opportunity for the club to face good competition in meaningful games while competing in the Club vs. Club divisions.
“Having those spots in Regionals and National League P.R.O. gives you something to play for when you’re competing in this Club vs. Club format,” Paulino said. “It gives you an opportunity to advance to the next level and hopefully get your spot in Regionals, and it just helps you prepare for the next stage when the games count and they’re all knockout games.”
Midwest 19U Boys Club vs. Club Division
A pair of unbeaten Wisconsin sides met on Sunday, as Madison 56ers 03/04 Boys Red (WI) and SC Wave Juniors 03 Boys (WI) fought for the upper hand in the 19U Boys Club vs. Club Division.
Madison entered the day 4-0-0, while SC Wave had a couple games in hand and a 2-0-0 record. Each side shared some half chances but an evenly-played game ended in a scoreless draw. One of the closest chances came early in the second half when Madison goalkeeper Seth Aiken tipped a well-struck free kick over the bar.
“The game was really intense,” Aiken said. “The other team was great. We struggled in the first half and did excellent in the second half. We only had two subs, but we played great as a team and I’m proud of everyone. Kudos to our whole team.”
Madison has just two games left to try to extend its current lead atop the division, while SC Wave can try to make up that ground with its four games left to play. As 19U sides, Aiken said trying to get a top spot in the conference and earn a place at Regionals is a goal for everyone.
“It means a lot to all of us,” he said. “If you can get in this league, you want to fight for the title as much as you can.”
Great Lakes Conference and Midwest Conference action will continue over the next few weeks, as teams play the final games of their league seasons. The 2022 USYS Midwest Regional Championships will begin June 24, with Grand Park serving as host.