LAS VEGAS — Friday, March 20 was the beginning of the end for the 48 teams representing 36 clubs participating in U.S. Youth Soccer National League play, as the girls wrap up the 2014-15 season at the Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex. Three of today’s featured games had contrasting storylines, but all proved to be exciting chapter in the quest for a division championship and a trip to the national championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma three months from now.
LA Galaxy SB Elite vs Century V X-treme U15
In a battle for survival in the U15 Blue division, LA Galaxy (2-2-1) defeated Century V (0-4-1) by a score of 1-0 on Friday morning. Century V, out of Pennsylvania, came out aggressive and focused, managing 10 shot attempts in the first half. Unfortunately for Century V, LA Galaxy keeper Victoria Ryan stopped them all.
Century V’s Alexis Kendro and Hannah Nguyen had clean looks off corner kicks blocked by Ryan, and Kendro had another open look slam off the crossbar and out. LA Galaxy only managed three first half shots, with two coming from midfielder Kaya Hawkinson. Neither of Hawkinson’s looks were clean, as she took her first shot from about 40 yards out, and her second came on a backwards header 20 yards from the goal. Still, Hawkinson’s shots came at the end of the first half, and seemed to set the tone for LA Galaxy to come out more aggressively in the second half.
LA Galaxy defender Magan Lau came forward and scored the game’s only goal just after the second half started, and LA Galaxy nearly scored again moments later on a header from midfielder Ryan Frost to fellow midfielder Maya Serota. LA Galaxy’s halftime adjustment’s worked, and Century V went from looking like the team with the better passing, touch and gameplan, to a team that was constantly on the defensive. LA Galaxy changed keepers at halftime from Victoria Ryan to Kyleigh Tran-Belleville, but Century V only had a couple of chances to test Tran-Belleville. Near the end of regulation, Century midfielder Carly Pcholinsky had an open shot near the right corner of the goal, but the ball went off the side of her foot and rolled toward the center, where teammate Breeanne Latsko made a sliding attempt to chip the ball into the empty net in front of her, but the ball sailed directly upward and over the goal, allowing LA Galaxy to hold on for the 1-0 win, and a chance to climb from seventh place in the Blue division to third with a win over La Roca Premier on Saturday. Century V remains winless, and hopes their luck will turn against 1-4 Corinthians SC on Saturday.
Dallas Kicks SC vs Greater Binghamton United SC U14
Dallas Kicks (3-0-2) overcame a first half deficit to beat Binghamton (3-2-0), 4-1, and supplant them as leader of the U14 Blue division.
Binghamton opened the scoring in the 16th minute on a corner kick from Olivia McNight on the right side of the field that found Victoria McKnight on the right side of the goal. Victoria McKnight kept the ball in the air with a soft kick, adjusted, and sent the ball into the net to give Binghamton a lead that would last through the first half.
Toward the end of the first half, Dallas began to apply heavy pressure on the Binghamton defenders and keeper Mackenzie Wagstaff. Taylor Tufts got a ball past Wagstaff and into the net, but Emilie Torres was whistled for being offside and the goal was disallowed. Wagstaff stopped six shots in the final 10 minutes of the first half, and three of them were from Dallas forward Jaida Thomas. Thomas scored on her fourth attempt against Wagstaff, but another whistle meant the goal would not count. Instead, Taylor Tufts was given a free kick from the top side of the box that she lifted over the goal. Somehow, Wagstaff and Binghamton withstood the pressure, and managed to enter halftime without allowing a goal.
The second half was all Dallas. Instead of shooting whenever an opportunity presented itself, they took time to control the ball on Binghamton’s side of the field and wear down their defense. Midfielders Samantha Meza, Carli Hernandez and Jordan Martinez seemed to engage in long games of keepaway on the left side of Binghamton’s goal, with added assistance from defender Belerica Oquendo every time the ball was cleared by Binghamton. Oquendo would secure possession and send it back to the trio of midfielders, who drew the defense away from talented forwards Jaida Thomas and Emilie Torres. The strategy worked- from the 52nd minute to the 58th minute, Torres scored twice, once on an assist from Thomas, and Thomas added a goal of her own. Binghamton had gone from leading to down 3-1 in the blink of an eye. Adrianne Arriaga added a fourth goal, and with the 4-1 win, Dallas jumped ahead of Binghamton in the U14 Blue division for first place.
CUP Gold 00/01 vs OFC 01 Phillips U14
CUP Gold (4-0-1) retained their Red division lead with a 2-0 win over OFC (3-2-0). OFC, out of Oklahoma, could have leapfrogged CUP Gold, out of Ohio, but instead, OFC falls to fourth in the division. Meanwhile, CUP has yet to give up a goal on National league play.
OFC keeper Hensley Hancuff started the game by making a diving, fingertip save, and that was indicative of how she’s have to spend the majority of the afternoon in order to keep OFC in the game. Outside of OFC’s Megan Nielsen firing a shot wide of the goal in the 10th minute, OFC’s forwards had an extremely quiet game. The ball was nearly always in OFC’s backfield, and while defenders Kylee Addison and Katelyn Pierce cleared the ball again and again, CUP defenders and midfielders always managed to intercept the ball and push it forward.
CUP’s Anna Podojil, in tandem with Jordyn Rhodes and Olivia Scheper, controlled the ball from start to finish. Despite having the ball for extended possessions, CUP was selective about shot attempts. OCF did a good job of staying between the ball and the goal, but on two occasions, in the 30th minute and the 65th minute, Eva Kiper was able to find open space and score. OFC’s Kylee Addison and Katelyn Pierce pressed forward in the second half, and each had a shot attempt off a deflected ball, but neither could be the first in National League play to score a goal against CUP in National League play.
CUP’s win means they can clinch the Red division title with a win over South Shore Select Elite on Saturday. OFC will take on 0-5 Premier Strikers Saturday in hopes that a win, and a CUP loss, will keep them in the running for a division crown.