MESA, Ariz. (Nov. 6, 2023) — Four exciting days of action at the Elite 64 Playoffs in Mesa, Ariz., saw 45 girls teams qualify for National League P.R.O., while six sides claimed Playoff titles as the winners of the champions pool in their age group.
Elite 64 is the top club-based platform in the USYS National League. The Nov. 3-6 action took place at Legacy Sports Park and featured more than 100 girls teams across the 13U-19U age groups.
For the 14U-19U age groups, the Playoffs represent the first of two stages of National League events, which provide every competing team with an opportunity to ultimately advance to the USYS National Championships. The 45 teams that earned advancement to the next stage — National League P.R.O. — will play May 3-6 in Oceanside, Calif., for a chance to qualify to the National Championships.
“There’s a lot to play for, and the teams coming out here have goals that they’re striving for,” said 16U Las Vegas Surf coach Pedram Mahinpey following his team’s 3-2 win to open the weekend. “It’s exciting to know that we’ve already advanced to National League P.R.O. in May, and now we want to continue to play well and build on this.”
In addition to earning a place in National League P.R.O., six teams also won tournament competition within the champions pool of their respective age groups to claim Elite 64 Playoff titles.
2023 Elite 64 Playoffs (Arizona) | Girls Champions
*13U: East County Surf 11G Elite 64
14U: South Valley Surf SC 10G Elite 64
15U: Las Vegas Surf Soccer Club 09G Elite 64
16U: South Valley Surf SC 08G Elite 64
17U: South Valley Surf SC 07G Elite 64
19U: Strikers FC North 06G Elite 64
*The 13U age group does not advance teams to National League P.R.O.
“This is our second year in the league. We won it last year, and we were also Elite 64 national champions,” 16U South Valley Surf forward Michelle Antongiovianni said after her team won the Playoffs championship. “It’s a great opportunity to play against high-level players. If we want to go to college for soccer, it’s giving us a lot of opportunities.”
TITLE GAME RECAPS…
A quick start helped power East County Surf 11G Elite 64 to a 4-1 win against Legends FC 11G Elite 64 in the 13U title game. East County jumped in front with a goal just three minutes into the game, and it went up 2-0 in the 25th minute thanks to an Elaina Donahue goal. Ava Irwin pulled a goal back for Legends to cut the East County lead to 2-1 just before halftime. Kiley Ann Hue scored in the 56th minute to push the East County lead back to two goals, and Olive Murillo capped the 4-1 victory with a strike in the 65th minute.
South Valley Surf SC 10G Elite 64 defeated Utah Soccer Alliance 10G Elite 64, 3-1, in the championship game to win the 14U title. Olivia Howlett fired in a 19th-minute goal to put South Valley in front, and Giuliana Martinez used a first-touch finish to double Surf’s lead late in the opening half. Howlett added a 53rd-minute insurance goal before Maddison Rider pulled a goal back for Utah. A late save by the Surf keeper prevented USA from getting any closer, as Surf claimed the victory and the age group title.
A strong all-around performance helped Las Vegas Surf SC 09G Elite 64 win the 15U title with a 3-0 victory against East County Surf 09G Elite 64. Sanai Battles opened the scoring when she finished off a nice passing move following a short corner in the 13th minute. Madalynn Smith doubled the lead a few minutes later, as Las Vegas controlled play in much of the first half. Vegas extended the lead to 3-0 early in the second half when Claire Taft found the back of the net, and that score line held as Las Vegas won the Playoff championship.
An early second-half goal proved to be the difference, as South Valley Surf SC 08G Elite 64 earned a 1-0 win against AYSO UNITED 08G Elite 64 in the 16U title game. South Valley generated several periods of sustained attacking threats, but AYSO did well to keep the game scoreless early into the second half. Surf broke through on a recycled ball following a free kick that Sophia Contreras helped into the back of the net. Surf’s defense held on for its third clean sheet of the weekend, as South Valley claimed its third consecutive 1-0 victory to win the Playoffs Championship.
South Valley Surf SC 07G Elite 64 held off a late push from Idaho Rush SC 07G Elite 64 to secure a 2-1 win in the 17U title game. Kara Campoy and Emily Cove each scored in the opening 15 minutes to give South Valley an early two-goal advantage, which it maintained for much of the game. An 85th-minute Rush goal by Maggie Poole added drama to the final minutes, but South Valley protected its lead to secure the win. En route to the title, South Valley did well in close games, as it won by scores of 2-1, 2-0 and 2-1 during the Playoffs in Arizona.
A third shutout of the weekend helped Strikers FC North 06G Elite 64 defeat CDA Slammers 05/06G Elite 64 to win the 19U title at the Elite 64 Playoffs. Gabrielle Flores opened the scoring for Strikers FC with a goal in the 9th minute, and Lorena Gonzalez doubled the advantage when she found the back of the net in the 38th minute. Those tallies were more than enough for the Strikers FC defense, as the side secured a 2-0 win to obtain the title.
The Elite 64 teams that did not compete in the Playoffs in Arizona will play Jan. 19-23 at Elite 64 Playoffs in Florida. Teams that advance from that event will move on to a National League P.R.O. event in February.