ORLANDO, Fla. (Dec. 14, 2022) — Many of the top 15U-19U Girls teams and players in the US Youth Soccer National League competed Dec. 8-12 in Orlando, Florida. The event featured teams from both National League P.R.O. and Elite 64, and all games took place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
The National League P.R.O. games each counted toward league standings, as teams began their pursuits of top-of-the-table finishes that can result in direct advancement to the 2023 USYS National Championships. Combined with the excitement of top talent from Elite 64 clubs matching up during the weekend, National League Orlando provided a great atmosphere for youth soccer.
“Honestly, for our club, this has been the best showcase we’ve been to,” said Claire Ward, Girls Director of Coaching for Fort Wayne United of Elite 64. “The competition has been great across the board. We brought our 15s, 16s, 17s and 19s. All the games were very, very good.
“And then just the experience — you look around at where they’re playing at. Every day, we remind the girls to be thankful to play at such an amazing place like this. And then to get out of Indiana and play against different competition is just fantastic.”
LOOK BACK: NATIONAL LEAGUE P.R.O.
Recap some of the NL P.R.O. matchups and performances from Orlando…
After a challenging opening half, KC Fusion Academy 08 (KS) went on the front foot to secure a 4-1 victory against Georgia Impact SC 08G Elite (GA) in 15U Group A action on Dec. 10.
It took just three minutes for KC to go in front, as Jenna Lloyd found the back of the net. However, Georgia’s Addison Bendzsuk picked out the far corner with a perfect placement on a free kick to equalize in the 28th minute, and the Impact looked likeliest to get a second in a strong finish to the opening 40 minutes.
KC came out motivated to start the second half and netted a pair of nearly identical goals by Georgia Goodwin, who finished at the near post following corner kicks. The Fusion spent much of the remainder of the game in the attacking half, and Ella Coup slotted a 70th-minute strike just inside the far post to cap the 4-1 victory.
The win helped KC move to 3-0-0 in a crowded top half of the table that saw four teams leave Orlando undefeated. Galaxy 2008 Girls Blue (IL) and FC Somers Lady Hammers (NY-E) each join KC Fusion in a three-way tie for first on nine points.
A pair of unbeaten 16U Group D teams met on Dec. 12, as KHA North 2007G Red (OH) and Chattanooga Red Wolves 07G (TN) looked to gain an upper hand in their National League P.R.O. group title race. A pair of first-half goals fueled KHA’s 2-1 win that helped it remain in prime position to contend for first place in Group D.
Paige Martin put KHA in front when she found the back of the net in the 15th minute. The Ohio side managed to add to its lead in the final minutes of the first half, as Ashley Yontz netted a goal to put KHA in front, 2-0.
Each side had its moments in the attack in the final 40 minutes, and Chattanooga managed to pull back a goal through an Aireanna Williams strike in the 58th minute. The last quarter of the game included multiple movements by Chattanooga into the KHA penalty area, but the KHA back line did well to prevent any high-quality looks at goal, as the Ohio side secured the 2-1 win.
KHA joins Coppermine SC Girls 2007 Elite 64 (MD) at 3-0-0 in Group D.
Yankee United FC Attack (CT) came back with two late goals to edge Alliance FC 06 Academy Girls (MO), 3-2, in an intense 17U Group B matchup on Dec. 12 in Orlando.
Yankee United jumped in front in just the third minute on a Sara Parker strike, but Alliance responded with an 11th-minute tally by Berkleigh Salmond. The Missouri side grabbed the lead shortly before halftime when Mia Cole found the far corner with her shot from the right side of the box.
Alliance battled to hold its lead for much of the second half, but Parker placed a rebound into the roof of the net to pull Yankee United event in the 82nd minute. Parker finished off the comeback and her personal hat trick with a run through the Alliance back line that allowed her to slide her shot past the keeper to give the Connecticut side the 3-2 win.
Yankee United is tied in first place with DMV FC 2006 Blue (VA) on nine points apiece.
Two of NL P.R.O.’s top 18U Group A sides — SBMC 05 (NY-E) and FC Dayton G05 (OH) — met on the last day of National League Orlando with a chance to pick up crucial points.
SBMC started the game off dominant, controlling possession and ultimately scoring first. Sophia Campites’ goal in the 5th minute was well deserved, but the lead didn’t last long. FC Dayton’s Morgan Sparks capitalized on an SBMC defensive miscue in the 13th minute to bring the two sides level again.
Contributing to a wild first half, Grace Lien gave SBMC the lead again 10 minutes later after a perfect chip-shot found the back of the net.
FC Dayton was intent on finishing NL Orlando strong, though, and did so in the second half. Alyssa Unver scored in the 60th minute to bring the two sides even, and then Ava Pfarrer scored the game-winner in the 80th minute to finish the comeback. SBMC and FC Dayton both sit in second place of Group A with six points, one point behind leader LFA Tottleben 2005G (MO).
Coming off NL P.R.O. wins on their opening day in Orlando, both FC Dallas Youth 04 North Black Premier (TX-N) and STA MUSC 04/05G NL (NJ) were pursuing a perfect start to their 19U Group C campaign. In a very evenly matched game, each team found the net once as they settled for a point apiece in a 1-1 draw.
After a scoreless first half, STA broke through in the 53rd minute when Courtney Schiereck dribbled through the FC Dallas back line and found the back of the net for the opening goal. STA tried to extend its lead, but FC Dallas hit back in the 76th minute on an Emily Lau goal that tied the game at 1-1.
Neither team sat back in the last quarter-hour, as both sides advanced into dangerous positions in search of a game-winner. However, the defenses held strong and the game ended level at 1-1.
After Orlando, STA currently leads Group C with 7 points, while FC Dallas finished with 4 points from its three games. Penn FC Youth 04G Lightning (PA-E) is the lone team in Group C yet to drop points, and it has a game-in-hand on STA.
To view all of the standings and results from the National League P.R.O. season, click here.
LOOK BACK: ELITE 64
Recap some of the Elite 64 matchups that took place in Orlando…
Coming off a very competitive fall season, Legends FC Elite 64 08G experienced much of the same on Thursday in a scoreless draw against Coppermine SC Elite 64 08G in Orlando.
Coppermine enjoyed periods when it possessed the ball in its attacking third, but the Legends defense held strong. As the game entered the final 10 minutes, play opened up and both sides created scoring chances.
Legends, which had an even goal differential through 13 E64 Midwest games, came closest to breaking through when Alexis Martin sent a free kick off the underside of the bar, but it stayed out. Minutes later, Coppermine found the back of the net but an offside flag negated the goal. Coppermine keeper Elizabeth Wezel came off her line to stop a breakaway goal, and teammate Sophia Adams hit the near post following a slaloming run, as the game ended 0-0.
Legends went on to win its final two games in Orlando, while Coppermine dropped a couple of close matches.
In 16U Elite 64 action, Lobos Rush Elite 64 07G and FC Copa Academy Elite 64 07G finished their time in Orlando with a well-played game that ultimately finished in a scoreless draw.
Lobos came close to going in front early in the second half when Alivia Howard ran in front of the near post on a corner kick, but her acrobatic volley narrowly missed being on frame. The Tennessee side generated plenty of attacking chances, with Presley Williams playing a key role in initiating the offense from a central midfield role.
On the other end of the field, FC Copa also created some prime chances through Taylor Green. She nearly directed a cross inside the back post in the 55th minute but saw it go just wide. And near the end of regulation, Green sent a powerful drive from distance just wide of the same post.
With the draw, Lobos 07G finished with 7 points in Orlando, while FC Copa secured 4 points.
On the last day of play at National League Orlando, Strikers FC North Elite 64 06G and Total Futbol Academy Elite 64 06G — the two top sides in 17U Group F — went head-to-head. Strikers was looking to close out the week undefeated after securing wins in its first two games, while TFA looked to make up ground on the group leaders.
TFA opened the game strong, dominating possession and controlling the tempo of the match, but couldn’t find a goal to reward their play. Strikers FC North showed poise to adjust its gameplan and were better off for it. Karen Pedraza-Carino took advantage of one of the first true opportunities for Strikers, putting her side in front 1-0 just before halftime.
TFA’s Elizabeth Woelfel made her mark in the second half, tying the game with a goal in the 57th minute, but Strikers FC North took the lead back immediately. Bella Keith’s 60th minute goal put Strikers back in front — for good — and finished off an undefeated week for the group leaders.
Match Fit Academy FC Elite 64 04/05G and Rockford Raptors FC Elite 64 04/05G came into their showdown on Dec. 10 level on points in Elite 64’s 19U Group E, with both sides looking to move ahead of their opposition.
Rockford’s Lilly Coats got the scoring started in this fun matchup, a strike in the 22nd minute. It was the first half’s only tally, but there were more fireworks to follow. Bridgett Morrison leveled the match for Match Fit in the 50th minute with a goal, but Rockford was quick to take the lead back. Morgan Rudowicz restored the lead just three minutes later to cap off a riveting three-minute stretch.
It looked like Rockford would escape with a win and all three points, but Match Fit Academy hung in there and found a second equalizer. Ellianna Caporusso’s goal in the 79th minute was the final score in this game and kept both sides level on points in Orlando.
To view all of the results from the Elite 64 action in Orlando, click here.
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About USYS National League P.R.O.
USYS National League P.R.O. represents the top team-based competition in the USYS National League. National League P.R.O. provides teams in the 14U-19U Boys and Girls age groups with the ability to earn their place into the league, where they have the opportunity to play against the top teams in the country while competing for berths to the USYS National Championships. For each gender, 12 teams per age group will advance to the National Championships from National League P.R.O.
About USYS National League Elite 64
USYS National League Elite 64 represents the elite club-based platform in the USYS National League. Elite 64 features year-round competition in six age groups (13U through 18/19U) for the top 64 boys clubs and top 64 girls clubs in the country. The annual competition calendar includes the league season, national showcases and the Elite 64 National Finals. Thanks to partnerships with world leaders in their respective fields, Elite 64 players have access to tools and technology to capture key information that can be shared with college coaches and professional scouts — making every game a recruitable moment.