CHARLESTON, S.C. | Eleven championships were earned this season in US Club Soccer’s league-based competitions: the ENPL National Finals and Girls NPL Finals. While the clubs deserve credit for their accomplishments on the national stage, they’re a product of the environment of the leagues they play in throughout the regular season.
The summer was a breakthrough for two NPLs in particular: the Central States NPL, which had two member clubs win Girls NPL Finals titles, and the Gulf States Premier League, which earned its first championship in league history (14-U girls), as well as second place in the 19-U division. And for the perennial contenders – NEP-NPL Division, NorCal NPL, NYCSL-NPL Division and NISL-NPL Division – it was business as usual at the top of the food chain.
“Seeing the Central States having success at the next level within the US Club structure is great and shows the strength of the Central States NPL,” said Chris McGill, Central States NPL administrator. “The clubs who are participating within the Central States league should take pride in their participation with the recent success.”
“I feel that the Gulf States Premier League has always had some top-tier talent, and this year it came together well for some of our teams,” added Michael Ritch, Gulf States Premier League administrator. “Obviously, Louisiana Fire Juniors 05 Red and Cajun SC Rage 18/19 Academy had great showings. With the Fire winning the Gulf States Premier League’s first NPL national title, all our teams know what's possible in the future. Cajun SC losing in PKs was tough, but both these teams represented the league extremely well, and we are very proud of them.”
The Washington NPL broke through, as well, earning placement on the winners’ stage of the 16-U Girls NPL Finals division. From 2013-15, teams from the Pacific Northwest had found their way to either national championship or national finalist positions, but then hadn’t placed that high nationally since. That changed this summer with Eastern Washington Surf SC winning the 16-U bracket.
"This victory represents a huge commitment by our league and by our clubs to constantly improve the level of play,” said Stanley Holmes, Washington NPL and Puget Sound Premier League President. “We believe that competitive soccer should be available to any young player regardless of financial or geographical challenges, and this win by Eastern Washington Surf proves players and clubs can rise to the occasion if given a level playing field and a fair chance to compete. I am so happy for the players at Surf and also for FC Edmonds Quiet Riot – a small club that reached the semifinals, a huge achievement in its own right."
Like the Gulf States Premier League, the Red River NPL also saw one of its member clubs win the first Girls NPL Finals title in the league’s history. In its second season in the NPL platform, the Red River NPL produced a strong South Lakes SC squad that earned the 19-U championship in a thrilling 4-3 penalty kick win.
An even younger member within the nationwide NPL landscape, the Minnesota Girls NPL was a national finalist (Tonka Fusion) in the 13-U division in the league’s first season in the NPL.
The New England Premiership’s top division, its NPL side, earned the 19-U ENPL National Finals (NEFC) and the 15-U Girls NPL Finals (South Shore Select) titles, while also finishing as runner-up (NEFC) in the 16-U Girls NPL Finals division. NEP’s cup-based representatives in the National Cup XVIII Finals also performed admirably, winning four championships in that national tournament.
“The NEP would like to congratulate each of our fellow US Club Soccer NPLs on successful regular and postseason performances,” said Sean Carey, NEP League Director. “We've continued to work diligently to provide a player-focused league platform that allows our member clubs to showcase their teams, coaches and clubs. The weekly competition of NEP league-based play has helped our teams enjoy continued success on the national stage. Our member clubs embrace collaborating off the field and competing on it. Special congratulations to both NEFC and South Shore Select for securing national championships.”
Out west, the NorCal NPL returned home with plenty of reasons to hold their heads high. On the girls side, Clovis Crossfire ’04 came just one penalty kick short of the 15-U championship. On the boys side, NorCal NPL grabbed a silver medal (Napa Soccer Academy) in the 16-U ENPL National Finals bracket.
“We were extremely proud of how well our NorCal clubs represented our league this year at US Club Soccer’s national events,” said Jason Drury, NorCal Premier Director of Competitions. “Of the 11 teams participating, eight of them made it out of their groups with three finishing as semifinalists and three making it all the way to their national final. We feel the promotion and relegation in our leagues prepped our teams to compete at the national level.”
The NYCSL-NPL Division and NISL-NPL Division continued their annual prowess, as well, earning national finalist finishes in the Girls NPL Finals in the 14-U and 17-U brackets, respectively.
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