Four teams from Eastern Pennsylvania that went to the national championships last summer are looking to take a step forward in booking a return trip with the US Youth Soccer National League Conference Playoffs this weekend at ESPN Wide World of Sports.
Penn FC Youth Black 2007, YMS Premier Spirit 2008, Penn FC Youth 2008 and Hex Dominion 2009 were all among the 21 teams from Eastern Pennsylvania that competed at the US Youth Soccer National Championships last summer in Orlando.
YMS Spirit is looking for some revenge this weekend at National League since they’ll be facing two teams - FC Frederick and KC Fusion - they played in group play at nationals last summer. They played Frederick to a scoreless draw but lost 4-0 to KC. Spirit qualified for the national championships through National League P.R.O. last year.
“It’s not their first time going now so they know what to expect,” said YMS Premier Spirit head coach Amanda Kirby. “I think they’re motivated and excited at the same time.”
Spirit goalkeeper Ava Brochon is looking forward to the chance for two rematches. They open Friday against FC Frederick and after a rematch with KC Fusion Academy on Saturday face Miami Rush Kendall SC.
“Obviously we didn’t get the results we wanted to get (last time),” Brochon said. “But we do get the opportunity to play two teams that we did play down there so we’re out for revenge.”
Kirby said she started counting down the days until the team got back together back in October. They prepared for Florida playing in a pair of showcase events over the past two weekends with the EDP Cup at Tuckahoe Turf Farm in New Jersey and the Steel United Turf Showcase at Maplezone Sports in Aston. They went unbeaten in six games with five wins and a draw, outscoring opponents 18-3 in those games.
“Being on the team it’s just such a nice, fun atmosphere especially at these away tournaments,” said Ashlyn McEwing. “We all have such good bonds, I’m excited.”
Under the new format for National League in 2023, the top three teams in each four-team bracket will advance to National League P.R.O. and from there would have a chance to book a spot at nationals. Teams that advance to National League P.R.O. will play either in Tampa in February or California in May with a national championship berth on the line.
Placement in conference play will be key for teams that advance to National League P.R.O. as the bracket winner would advance to the champions pool (4 teams advance to nationals) as opposed to the silver or wildcard pools for a second or third place finish (1 team in each advances). Fourteen out of 16 boys teams from Eastern PA advanced to National League P.R.O. in the boys Conference Playoffs last weekend.
Eastern PA had the most teams of any state association earn national championship berths through National League P.R.O. last year.
Schedules for this weekend's games are available at www.usysnationalleague.com/conference-playoffs-orlando-2023.
Girls National League Conference Playoffs Teams
YMS Premier Force 2010
Penn Alliance Select 2009
YMS Premier Celtic 2009
Penn FC Youth 2009
Hex FC Dominion 2009
Sporting PA FCE 2008
Penn FC Youth Black 2008
YMS Premier Spirit 2008
Penn FC Youth Black 2007
Lancaster Elite Fury 2007
Sporting PA 2005