FRISCO, Texas (Sept. 21, 2022) — The US Youth Soccer (USYS) Midwest Conference continued the early portion of its fall season this past weekend, as several teams kicked off their campaigns and started their push toward a conference title.
Teams in the Premier I Division are looking to capitalize on their strong starts with the opportunity to earn placement in the 2023 USYS Midwest Regional Championships and 2023-24 season of National League P.R.O.
The Midwest Conference fall season primarily features girls teams in the 13U-19U age groups, while the boys teams primarily compete in the spring season. This past weekend included 30 girls teams in action at the Rantoul Family Sports Complex in Rantoul, Ill.
In the 18U Girls Premier I Division, KC Blaze Academy Gunners (MO), which finished mid-table last season, looks ready for the Midwest’s tough competition after wins over Chicago Inter 2005 Blue (IL) and Michigan Jaguars 2005 Girls NLC (MI). In just two games, the Missouri side’s potent offense managed to find the back of the net nine times.
Ben Popoola, head coach of KC Blaze Academy Gunners (MO), shared his thoughts on his team’s hot start.
“Having been a part of the National League Midwest Conference for several years, we know that coming out of Rantoul with six points against two really strong teams from Illinois and Michigan is a fantastic result,” he said.
Popoola also touched on his team’s mindset as it looks to capitalize on its undefeated start.
“The 18U Premier I Division has an extremely deep and talented 10-team division this year,” Popoola said. “Our players are well aware there are a lot of tough games ahead, but through dedication and hard work we will continue to compete at a high level amongst some of the top teams in our region. So far, it is a great start."
KC Blaze Academy Gunners (MO) will look to continue its title push this weekend with matches against JB Marine Thunder 2005G (MO) and LFA Blue Star Premier 2005G (MO).
Elsewhere in the Premier I Divisions, St. Louis Development Academy 2004G Rangers (MO) sit atop the 19U standings after a commanding start.
The Missouri side, led by an offense that scored 18 goals, picked up three crucial wins during its opening weekend of games, with perhaps the most important result a 4-2 victory over last year’s conference champion Team Chicago SC 2004 Elite (IL).
“We're very happy with the start. Three games in one weekend is a lot, so getting nine points is huge and it's nice to be the driver's seat,” said St. Louis coach Mike Preusser. “These games are extremely valuable. Team Chicago was at Nationals last year, so we expected a tight game. These types of matches in the Midwest Conference prep you for National League P.R.O. and Nationals further along this season.”
St. Louis Development Academy 2004G Rangers (MO) will continue its conference schedule with matches against Michigan Jaguars 2004 Girls NLC (MI) and MI Burn 04 Black (MI) this week.
The Missouri side will compete in the National League P.R.O. later this season, and Preusser said his team has a few main objectives left for its 19U season.
“One of biggest goals for the team is helping the players get to the next level. College commitments are huge for this team and, while many are committed, we have a few finishing the recruiting process and hope to get them all in,” Preusser said. “Our ultimate goal is to win the National Championship. We were semifinalists last year, and the players feel this year’s team is the best version they have had. They feel it is an attainable goal.”
The Midwest Conference is one of 13 conferences in the USYS National League. Action in the Midwest Conference will continue throughout the year with teams inching closer to earning qualification into National League P.R.O. or a spot at the 2023 USYS Midwest Regional Championships.
For more information on the Midwest Conference, including schedules, scores, and standings, click here.