Several of Friday’s matchups proved to be pivotal games that directly determined which teams would advance to their respective championship games. In the highly competitive tournament, just Under-15 Boys Santa Barbara SC White (CA-S) and Under-18 Girls VSA Heat Blue (VA) are still in the hunt to defend their National Championship titles.
National Champions will be crowned over the weekend in the Under-13 through Under-19 Boys and Girls age groups. The first titles will be decided on Saturday evening with the Under-13 through Under-15 Boys and Girls finals, as well as the James P. McGuire Cup (Under-19 Boys), which will be broadcast live in HD at 7:30 p.m. ET on FOX Soccer. The remaining age groups will play Sunday.
Friday marked the final day of group play, as teams realized their destiny for this weekend’s championship finals. For those teams not advancing, Friday concluded a great season full of accomplishments. Meanwhile, the teams moving on find themselves one step away from achieving their dreams and capturing the National Championship.
A few highlights from tonight’s matches…
The defenses kept the game between Raiders FC (IL) and FSA FC Navy (CT) scoreless for the first hour, as both teams eyed a spot in the Under-13 championship game. FSA broke through in the 64th minute on an Anthony Melody goal to claim the lead. That goal proved to be enough, as FSA shut out Raiders to earn a spot in the championship game.
Michigan Wolves 99 (MI) advanced to the Under-14 Boys final thanks to a 4-1 win over Penn Fusion 98 (E-PA) on Friday. Wolves took a two-goal lead in the first half thanks to tallies from Daniel Wright and Larry Chen. The Michigan side added another when Samuel DeLoy put his side up 3-0 in the 65th minute. Penn Fusion answered quickly when Frank DeRosa scored three minutes later, but Wolves added a fourth, a minute after on a Suniel Veerakone goal. The win helped Wolves jump Penn Fusion on goal differential to place second in the group and secure a spot in the final.
Dix Hills Elite (E-NY) advanced to the Under-15 Boys final with a 1-0 win against Bethesda Lions (MD). Neither team could break through until Dix Hills got a bit of luck in the 69th minute. A shot by Michael Sclafani hit the crossbar and deflected off the Bethesda keeper before rolling into the goal for what proved to be the winner.
Dix Hills will face defending champion Santa Barbara SC White (CA-S) in the Under-15 Boys final after Santa Barbara came away with a dramatic 2-1 victory in a must-win game against Vardar 98 (MI). Santa Barbara took an early lead when Brandon Sanchez sent his shot into the left side of the net. Vardar responded with a powerful strike from Thomas Dokho in the 18th minute to knot the score at 1-1. After Vardar went down to 10 men following a red card, Raul Guerrero beat his defender to a ball in front of the goal and put home the winner that sent Santa Barbara back to the title game.
In an entertaining contest between Lehigh Valley United 97 (E-PA) and FC Dallas 98 Premier (TX-N), the Pennsylvania side came away with a 3-2 win. FC Dallas jumped ahead in the 48th minute on an Austin Day goal, but LVU responded with two quick goals by Pierre Reedy to take the lead. That advantage lasted just a minute, as Roman Cano tied the game with a goal for FC Dallas. It appeared the game would end in a draw until Byron Derti scored in the final minute to give Lehigh the 3-2 win.
Smithtown Arsenal (E-NY) became the first team to score on two-time defending champions Fullerton Rangers 96 White (CA-S) in three years of National Championship games. In doing so, the New York side knocked off Rangers, 1-0, to advance to the Under-16 Boys title game and eliminate the reigning champions. Christopher Hettler got the goal for Smithtown on a header in the 18th minute, and the defense shut down Rangers for the remainder of Friday’s game to earn a trip to the final.
FC Golden State White (CA-S) got its second win of the week, as it defeated Alliance 97 Black (MI), 3-0. Golden State got a trio of first half goals, with Edgar Esquivel opening the scoring in the 22nd minute. Jose Heredia doubled the lead, and Alberto Juarez made it 3-0 with a goal just before halftime. Golden State got the win, but it didn’t get the help it needed in the other Under-16 Boys Pool B game to advance to the final.
The team advancing from Pool B is GSA Phoenix 97 Red (GA) after it defeated in-state foe Concorde Fire Elite (GA), 2-0, on Friday. Yosef Samuel’s goal put GSA up, 1-0, in the 27th minute. Kofi Twumasi added an insurance goal in the second half to help GSA to the 2-0 win and earn a spot in the Under-16 Boys championship final.
Raiders FC Premier (IL), a finalist at last year’s National Championships, needed a win or tie against PDA Harkes (NJ) Friday to return to the title game. Gabriel Martinez gave Raiders an early advantage when he scored in the 2nd minute. Alexis Monteon doubled the lead in the 59th minute when he chipped the keeper, but David Nigro pulled PDA within one goal when he scored on a free kick in the 72nd minute. The PDA offense pressed hard for two more goals in the final 20 minutes, but the Raiders defense held strong, as the Illinois side won, 2-0, to advance to the Under-18 Boys final.
West Coast FC (CA-S) hung on to win, 2-1, over Concorde Fire Elite (GA) to join Raiders in the Under-18 Boys final. The California side entered the game needing a win to earn a spot in the championship game, and it got off to a good start when Conor Roche put West Coast up, 1-0, with a goal in the 9th minute. West Coast’s Adam Lenth pressured the keeper on a back pass in the 52nd minute and knocked a loose ball into an open net to extend his team’s lead to 2-0. Concorde pulled within a goal when Tyler Alexander gathered loose ball in the box and fired it through a crowd into the goal. However, Concorde couldn’t get the tying goal it needed to move on, as West Coast moved to the top of the group and earned a spot in Sunday’s championship match.
Chicago Fire Academy (IL) and Lehigh Valley United 93 (E-PA) played to a 1-1 tie in their final preliminary game to advance and set up a rematch in Saturday’s Under-19 Boys McGuire Cup final, which will be broadcast live on FOX Soccer beginning at 6:30 p.m. CT. Reid Strain scored for Chicago in the 81st minute, but LVU’s Colton Storm responded five minutes later with the equalizer and set up the rematch in the championship final.
Under-13 Girls Michigan Hawks (MI) pulled out a 4-3 win against NEFC Elite (MA) to earn a place in the title match and eliminate the New Englanders. NEFC took the first lead of the match when Marykate McGuire scored in the 13th minute, but Hawks’ Alexas Spaanstra wasn’t far behind and quickly equalized for two minutes later. The battle continued in the 18th minute when McGuire got her 2nd goal to put NEFC back on top, but Spaanstra came back to score two more of her own to put Hawks the lead 10 minutes after the break. A Hawks own goal leveled the score at three, but Madison Donley clinched the win for Hawks when she netted the game winner in the 62nd.
Legends FC 99 (CA-S) moved on to the Under-13 Girls final in dramatic fashion after defeating Liverpool Elite (N-TX) 1-0. The match remained scoreless for 70 minutes until Legends broke the deadlock with Alexis Rushlow’s stoppage time goal, and Legends beat out NEFC for a spot in the final on tiebreakers.
YMS Xplosion 98 (E-PA) got a 3-0 shutout against NSA Rockets (IL) to earn their spot in the Under-14 Girls final. The match went into halftime scoreless, but YMS took over in the second half when Margaret Daeche scored in the 54th minute for the eventual game winner. YMS put the game away with goals from Caroline Foley in the 60th and Brie Pavol with a minute left to play to move into the championship game.
Eastside FC 98 Red (WA) and Tophat 17 Gold (GA) played to a 0-0 draw in their final preliminary match of the week. The tie was all Eastside needed to advance as their performance in previous matches helped them move on to the Under-14 Girls final. Eastside finished atop the standings with a 2-0-1 record and will meet YMS Xplosion in the final.
Carlsbad Elite 97/98 (CA-S) got a 4-0 victory against Empire Revolution Syracuse (NY-W) in the Under-15 Girls, but did not get the help they needed to advance. Hayley Mayne notched an early 7th minute goal to put Carlsbad up at halftime. Carlsbad managed a shutout and three more goals in the second half by Miranda Martinez in the 47th minute, Sunny Dunphy in the 70th and a second goal by Mayne just before the whistle.
Ambassadors FC (OH-N) moved on to the Under-15 Girls championship match after defeating Tampa Bay United 97 Premier (FL) 3-2. Tampa Bay took an early lead from Paige Liebel’s 3rd minute goal, but Ambassadors’ Sarah Krause came back with two goals of her own in the 29th and 49th minutes, making her the top U-15 goal scorer in preliminary play. Gabrielle LoPresti increased Ambassadors’ advantage by scoring in the 71st minute to make it 3-1 before Tampa Bay’s Elaina Laxer pulled them back within one in stoppage time, but Ambassadors held on for the win to move on to the final.
Defending champs MSC Coyotes Green (MD) got a last-minute goal to defeat Tennessee SC (TN) 1-0, providing them one last chance to move on to the finals. Just as the match was winding down in a scoreless draw, Coyotes’s Sarah Johnston found the back of the net just seconds before the final whistle. The win gave MSC the three points needed to tie Eclipse Elite Black (IL) in the standings.
Eclipse Elite 97-98 Black (IL) defeated Boise Nationals Italia (ID) 5-0 in Under-15 Girls play. Eclipse took the lead with a pair of goals by Alissa Gorzak in the 12 and 57th minutes and Foster Ignoffo also got two goals in the 29th and 74th. Zoe Redei added to the Eclipse lead in the 46th minute to end the scoring and the result put Eclipse neck and neck in standings with MSC Coyotes Green, resulting in a penalty kick shootout to determine a finalist.
The two sides had to head to kicks from the mark to break the tie in the standings and determine who would move on to the final. Eclipse keeper Angelina LoDolce saved Coyotes first shot and MSC’s second flew over the crossbar as Eclipse was perfect in their attempts to win 3-1 and move on to face Ambassadors FC in the championship match.
In a rematch of the Under-16 Girls Region IV final between two National League qualifiers, DMCV Sharks Elite (CA-S) flipped the result and defeated Legends FC (CA-S) 1-0. The game went into halftime scoreless, but late in the second half Hannah Keogh scored when she curled the ball into the net from a corner kick to take the lead. The Sharks defense held on for the shutout to move into the championship match undefeated in preliminary play.
Cleveland United White (OH-N) secured their spot atop the standings by beating PDA Ginga (NJ) 2-1 to move on to the Under-17 Girls final. PDA got the first lead in the 33rd minute from a corner kick, when Drew Topor headed it into the net. But 10 minutes later Cleveland’s Kelly Novac took a pass from teammate Maddie Kresevic and slipped it past the keeper to tie the match before halftime. With six minutes left to go in the game, Kelly Novac stepped up again, this time passing it to Sydney Elinsky who was able to breakaway and give Cleveland the game winner and a chance at the title.