WILSON, N.C. (Nov. 15, 2012) – The top teams in the country lived up to their billing today as some intense battles got the sixth season of US Youth Soccer National League play underway in Wilson, N.C. All 16 teams in each of the Under-15, Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 Boys age groups kicked off 2012-2013 National League play at Wilson Gillette Soccer Complex, Barton College and Fike High School.
National League teams earn their place in the league based on a proven track record of success in US Youth Soccer regional and national competitions and are among the nation's best. Competing for a league title and a spot in the US Youth Soccer National Championships, each and every game will play into who represents the National League this summer in Overland Park, Kan.
Nearly 300 collegiate coaches are expected to attend this National League weekend to scout some of the top teams and players in the country, citing the competitive level of each game as every team has to earn their spot in the competition, regardless of location or club affiliation.
The league is an extension of the highly successful US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues (US Youth Soccer Region I Premier League, Midwest Regional League, Region III Premier League and Far West Regional League). The National League provides an avenue for teams to play in meaningful matches against top competition from across the country for continued development and opportunities for exposure at the national team, collegiate and professional levels.
Some highlights from today's matches…
Defending National Champion Galaxy 94/95 Blue (IL) will have a target on their back all season, but they survived a tough opening match against newcomer LFC 95 White (KY) to grab three points to start the season. After a scoreless first half, Jack Patrick struck the game winner in the 76th to put Galaxy on the track for a league repeat.
Defending Region II Champion and National Championship finalist Raiders FC Premier (IL) got the better of two-time defending Region I Champion Beadling SC 94/95 (PA-W) with a 2-1 victory. Illinois - Chicago commit Gonzalo Romo put Raiders in front in the 35th minute and Abel Guzman made it a two-goal lead in the 71st. Northwestern commit Nathan Dearth brought the deficit back to one for Beadling with a goal five minutes from time, but it wasn’t enough as Raiders are on an early track back to the National Championships.
National League veterans Everest SC Black (OH-N) and FC Frederick 94 (MD) met in league play for the second straight year, and once again Everest came out on top. Dayton commit James Haupt scored in the 1st and 39th minutes to give Everest a 2-0 halftime lead. Andy Shannon pulled one back for FC Frederick in the 58th, but that was all the scoring as Everest took the 2-1 win.
OBGC Rangers (MD) are hoping to finally earn that spot in the National Championships this year after finishing one point behind the division winners each of the last two years. OBGC got off to a good start, overcoming a tough Lou Fusz Gold (MO) team to win 3-1. Last year’s leading scorer, Jeremy Ebobisse, put OBGC ahead in the 30th minute for a 1-0 lead at the break. The lead lasted until the 70th minute when Lou Fusz pulled even through Eric McWoods, but OBGC immediately responded with a Sam Schmidt goal a minute later. Indiana commit Sean Cowdrey sealed the game for OBGC with a strike in the 86th to assure three points on the opening day.
National League veterans Waza FC East 96 Black (MI) and Lehigh Valley United 95 (E-PA) clashed on opening day as Waza came out the 1-0 victors. After a scoreless first half, Noah Brenizer struck three minutes after the restart for the Waza game winner.
National Championship finalist Challenger Crew Jrs Black (OH-N) found themselves in a shootout to start their first National League season, but Concorde Fire Elite (GA) had more firepower, taking a 5-3 victory in the Under-16 Boys. Jose Perez led Concorde, scoring a hatrick with goals in the 19th, 37th and 75th minutes. After Concorde went ahead on Perez’s first two goals, Challenger pulled one back from Dominic Grida but Concorde reassumed a two goal lead before halftime with a Zion Gray strike. Challenger’s National Championships Best XI player Ben Locke made it 3-2 just after the break, but Fabian Garcia grabbed Concorde’s fourth before Perez’s final goal to end 5-3.
CESA 96 Premier (SC) were division runners-up last season with a .500 record, so they know the value of one point, and they took it on opening day with a last minute goal to draw level with KCSC Blackstars 96/97 (KS), 1-1. Francisco Sanchez gave KCSC the lead with 10 minutes to play, but with just a minute left Alex Betancur pulled CESA back to get a point from the game.
Defending Region I Champion Bethesda Lions (MD) took a victory on day one of their first season, beating OP Eagles Dublin G1 (OH-S) 1-0. Daniel Tshiani scored the game winner for Bethesda in the 25th minute and the defense held on to deliver the win.
Midwest Regional League Champ CUP Crew Jrs 97 (OH-S) and Region I Semifinalist Empire Revolution Buffalo (NY-W) battled to a 0-0 draw in their first National League match. Each team controlled one half of play and each had scoring opportunities, but the defenses held strong in the stalemate.
Alliance 98 Black (MI) and Concorde Fire Elite (GA) battled to a stalemate for the full 80 minutes, but Alliance took the opening win with a stoppage time goal from Marshal Brummel in the club’s first National League match.
National League action continues Friday, Nov. 16. Complete standings, scores and schedules, including goal scorers and match information, can be found at the results page here. Click on the score of each game for more information.