After winning all three of its games in Florida, Cleveland FC 02 (OH-N) moved to 19 points in the standings, which clinched a first-place finish in the 17U Girls Black Division. Overall, Cleveland compiled six wins and a draw during its title campaign, as it average four goals per game to overpower its division foes. With the Black Division title in hand, Cleveland can now look ahead to the 2019 National Championships.
While the division title is off the table, one of the remaining teams still has a chance to earn a second-place finish and secure a spot in next season’s National League. Syracuse Development Academy (NY-W) is in the best position to do so after it rebounded for an opening day loss to Cleveland and won its final three matches in North Carolina.
Meanwhile, Sparta 02 Premier SP (UT) is the only team to take points from Cleveland, as Sparta slowed down the Ohio North side’s offense in a scoreless draw during their Dec. 1 matchup. The Utah side has seven points entering the Las Vegas weekend. New Jersey Rush 02 Grey (NJ) and Beach FC 02 DPL (CA-S) are both alive in the pursuit of second place, but they’ll need to string together wins and get some help in order make that move.
Game to Watch
March 15, Syracuse Development Academy (NY-W) vs. Sparta 02 Premier SP (UT)
The top two of the remaining teams meet on the first day of play in Las Vegas. The division title is out of reach, but Syracuse and Sparta are in the best position to finish in second place of the teams playing in Las Vegas. Sparta has displayed a stout defense that is difficult to break down, which could keep the game close. The Utah side would benefit most from a win that helps it leapfrog Syracuse in the standings, and that fact could open up the game as Sparta pushes for the victory.
In the 17U Girls Blue Division, PSA National 02 (NJ) is currently in first place with a lead that simultaneously seems both comfortable and in danger of being overtaken by the teams playing in Las Vegas. PSA secured 14 points between North Carolina and Florida, while earning four wins and a pair of draws. Three teams with games remaining are in striking distance of that mark, but they each have little room for error if they want to finish in first place.
Fullerton Rangers SYL 02 (CA-S), Pipeline 02 Pre-Academy Spirit (MD) and LVSA 02 Red (NV) are stacked in the middle of the standings, as they head to Las Vegas with seven, six and five points, respectively. Fullerton, which begins the weekend seven points behind PSA, tied the New Jersey side in North Carolina, so it needs at least two wins and a draw from its three games in Las Vegas to challenge for the title.
Pipeline and LVSA have slightly less wiggle room, as the deficit each side faces indicates the teams each need to win all three games. Three wins would allow Pipeline to finish one point ahead of PSA, which beat Pipeline when the two sides met in North Carolina. Meanwhile, LVSA — which tied PSA — will hope to win all three games and bring tiebreakers into play to decide the Blue Division title.
Game to Watch
March 15, Pipeline 02 Pre-Academy Spirit (MD) vs. LVSA 02 Red (NV)
The teams in title contention cannot afford to drop many or — in the case of these two teams — any points over the course of the weekend. Pipeline and LVSA will each be pushing for a win, as the teams know that a draw will not be enough to help either side in the pursuit of the division title. Both teams played several close high-scoring games in North Carolina, so this one should be exciting if that trend carries over to Las Vegas.
With six wins between North Carolina and Florida, SJEB Rush 02 Academy Blue (NJ) secured a first-place finish in the 17U Girls Red Division. SJEB, the defending National Champion, won all four of its games in North Carolina before dropping its opener in Florida. The New Jersey side rebounded from that defeat to finish with two straight wins to clinch the title. In doing so, SJEB earned a place in the 2019 National Championships for an opportunity to defend its title.
Sparta FC 02 Elite (TX-N) finished its season with 13 points, which has the North Texas side currently in second place. A couple of teams playing in Las Vegas have the chance to catch Sparta and finish in second place to requalify for the National League for the 2019-20 season. USA 02 Premier (UT) is just six points back of Sparta and owns a win in the matchup between the two sides. Albion SC 02 DPL (CA-S) and CSAIU 02 Black (OH-N) are each in contention for second place but will need all nine points from the games in Las Vegas.
Game to Watch
March 16, USA 02 Premier (UT) vs. CSAIU 02 Black (OH-N)
Two of the teams looking to climb into second place meet up on the second day of play in Las Vegas. USA and CSAIU hold a win and draw, respectively, against current second-place team Sparta FC 02 Elite (TX-N). USA has displayed a strong defense through its first four games, which could make it difficult for the Ohio North side. Entering the weekend knowing it needs three wins to finish in second place, CSAIU should be aggressive as it looks to break through against USA.
One team playing in Las Vegas — Covington FC FCT Tigers (LA) — has a chance to catch the current leader in the 17U Girls White Division. However, in order for Covington to do so, it has to pick up all nine points from its three remaining games and pile up goals in the process.
That is because the current leader — North Shore United 2002 Blue (WI) — compiled the second-largest goal differential in National League history while securing 19 points from its seven games. The Wisconsin side netted 30 goals while conceding just two, as it built a large lead in the division standings.
The lone points that North Shore dropped came in a scoreless draw against Covington when the two sides met in North Carolina. That result left the door open for the Louisiana side to challenge for the White Division title, as it heads to Las Vegas with 10 points in the standings. However, Covington will need to win all three of its remaining games and make up the goal differential to have a chance at taking first place.
Game to Watch
March 15, Legends FC 02 Academy II (CA-S) vs. Covington FC FCT Tigers (LA)
Covington needs to win all of its games, and it starts the weekend with its toughest test — based on the current standings. North Shore United 2002 Blue (WI) will have its eye on this one, as a win or draw for Legends will give the Wisconsin the White Division title. Legends played a strong opening weekend in North Carolina that resulted in three wins from its four games. While the division title is slightly out of reach for Legends, it can still secure a second-place finish and requalify for next season’s National League. It’s an important opener for Covington and Legends, as each team looks to climb the standings.