Florida Premier League | List of teams qualified for the NPL Champions Cup
Add the Florida Premier League to the list of leagues that has crowned its champions.
After a competitive fall, winter and spring, titles have been decided in 10 of the 12 age groups, with the winning teams qualifying for the 2013 NPL Champions Cup from July 18-22 in Aurora, Colo. There, they’ll have a chance to represent the Sunshine State against some of the nation’s best teams in US Club Soccer’s league-based national championship competition.
In the FPL, eight different clubs produced champions and 10 notched either a winner or second-place finisher. Jacksonville FC and IMG Academy led the way with two titles each, with JFC taking the two youngest girls age groups while IMG claimed the oldest.
“We continue to be impressed by our girls teams as they rise to the occasion and take on new challenges, including the most recent bid to the NPL Champions Cup,” IMG Director of Girls Soccer Academy Bobby Johnston said. “The girls have had tremendous success all year, both in the classroom and on the field, and we are truly excited about the accolades they are receiving for all the hard work they invested this year.”
That pride is matched by JFC, whose U-14 girls will be looking for another national title. While this is the first year that girls will be included in the NPL Champions Cup, last year, JFC’s U-13 team won the National Cup XI Super Group.
"I’m extremely proud of the accomplishment of both our JFC U-13 and U-14 girls going undefeated in the competitive FPL this year,” said JFC Director of Coaching Mike Walker, who coached both teams. “Both groups are looking forward to representing Florida at the NPL Champions Cup, with our U-14s seeking to repeat as national champions."
There was plenty of intrigue on the boys side as well, with the U-13 and U-18 age groups being decided by tiebreakers. Tampa Bay United emerged as the winner from the older group.
“I am very proud of the TBU U-18 boys team for winning the FPL championship,” TBU Executive Director Eric Sims said. “The players worked extremely hard over the course of the year and achieved tremendous results, showing they could compete with the best teams in the state of Florida. It is amazing what can be achieved when players place team success ahead of individual accomplishments.”
Chargers Soccer Club was left with similar feelings after its U-13 squad finished off an equally dramatic title run.
"The Chargers Soccer Club is very pleased and proud of the U-13 boys team for achieving this opportunity to compete in the NPL Champions Cup!” Director of Operations Jim DiNobile said. “This team has been an excellent model of the Chargers SC team and player development philosophy under coach Tim Mulqueen and the coaching staff. The team has consistently demonstrated the highest level of commitment and dedication and has started preparation in earnest for the upcoming NPL Champions Cup!"
Two more age groups have yet to be decided. The U-15 boys group is down to first place Jacksonville FC Elite (9-1-0) and Orlando City Youth Soccer (8-0-1), which can snatch the title with a victory over FC America Premier in the season finale. The U-16 boys group has three key games remaining, as Tampa Bay United (23 points, one game remaining) leads the West Florida Flames (19 points, two games remaining).
Here’s a look at the 10 teams that won Florida Premier League titles and have qualified for the 2013 NPL Champions Cup:
Boys U-13: Chargers SC (8-1-0)
Chargers SC and Orlando City Youth Soccer finished level at 24 points and were only separated by three in terms of both goals scored and goals allowed, but Chargers SC came out on top thanks to a 3-0 win over the challengers in their third game.
Boys U-14: Orlando City Youth Soccer (7-1-1)
OCYS had the third-best defense in the league but made up for that by averaging more than three goals per game, closing the season on a 3-0 run to finish two points clear of Tampa Bay United, which ended the year with a draw.
Boys U-17: Kendall SC (8-1-1)
Kendall SC faced its two toughest challengers in its first two games, coming away with a pair of victories over FC America Premier and Orlando City. That gave the team some early breathing room that it wouldn’t relinquish, losing just once to take the league by a four-point margin.
Boys U-18: Tampa Bay United (7-2-1)
It doesn’t get much closer than the title race in the U-18 group, where Tampa Bay United, IMG Academy and Boca United all finished within a point of the championship. TBU tied with IMG and was behind on goal differential, making their showdown in the season finale a winner-take-all affair that TBU took 3-1.
Girls U-13: Jacksonville FC Elite (8-0-0)
Jacksonville FC put on impressive displays offensively (five goals per game) and defensively (a total of three allowed) to top the league table by six points. The second-place West Florida Flames came closest to slowing down the champs, losing 1-0 on the second weekend.
Girls U-14: Jacksonville FC Elite (8-0-1)
JFC’s U-14 squad was even more impressive with seven goals per game, and that high-powered offense proved to be the difference. Space Coast United SC’s stingy defense held them to a 1-1 draw and left them tied atop the standings, but Jacksonville FC went through on goal differential.
Girls U-15: Weston FC (6-0-3)
Weston FC had the league’s fourth-best attack but allowed just five goals in nine matches, helping them to four shutout wins and three draws that built a four-point cushion. The team allowed just one goal in the final five matches.
Girls U-16: Boca United (8-0-0)
With 30 goals scored and just four allowed, Boca United was too much to handle in the U-16 league, and the team’s five shutout wins put them in position to clinch with a game remaining.
Girls U-17: IMG Academy (6-2-0)
IMG opened the season with a 4-3 loss to Boca United, then rattled off five straight wins to take over the top spot. A 4-0 late-season loss could have seen them stumble, but they rebounded with a 5-1 win in the finale to claim the title.
Girls U-18: IMG Academy (8-0-0)
The Florida Premier League’s third perfect team followed the same balanced formula as the other two, scoring more than four goals per game and giving up a total of four to clinch the championship with a game in hand.
A list of teams that have qualified for the NPL Champions Cup can be viewed here. Be sure to check back in with NationalPremierLeagues.com for updates throughout the spring as more leagues crown their champions.