The U15 Chicago Fire Juniors and U18 Eclipse Select both need to fill up the net on Friday morning in order to advance to the championship round at the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships.
Just about anything can happen in the final game for U17 Eclipse Select (1-1), and the team featuring Neuqua Valley's Heather Marik, Naperville North's Haley Krentz and Waubonsie Valley's Claire Hanold will make it through. A loss to Slammers FC (0-2) would make it tough, but even with a loss, U17 Eclipse Select can move on if the Dallas Texans lose or draw.
Defending national champion Baltimore Casa Mia Bays 93, the leader in Pool B, awaits the Fire Juniors (1-0-1). Not only do the Casa Mia Bays (2-0) have a two-point lead over the Fire Juniors, but the five-time Maryland state champs are up six in goal differential over the team with Naperville residents Peter Beasley, Jacob Brindle, Joe Carlson, Sean Mogan, Omel Perchatsch and Carson Swafford.
After a 2-2 tie vs. Dallas Texans 93 Red on Wednesday -- Brindle scored in the second minute -- the Fire Juniors beat Solar Red (Texas) 1-0 on Thursday on a goal from Keegan Balle, who has been blogging for the U.S. Youth Soccer Web site.
Not surprisingly, Balle mentioned after Wednesday's game that the weather in North Little Rock, Ark., was making it tough for the players to maintain their energy. It was 94 degrees on Thursday and could reach 92 degrees before noon on Friday, according to weather.com.
The weather is causing all of the teams to be creative with subs and minutes. Playing early in the morning is to our advantage the next two games. Like everyone else down here, tonight we rested, hydrated and stretched.
Things aren't looking so good for U18 Eclipse Select, whose roster includes Neuqua Valley's Meghan Lewis and Naperville Central's Lauren Levitt.
Eclipse Select (0-1-1) is third in the standings after a 4-4 tie with Colorado Rush Nike (1-0-1), which is in second place and has a three-goal lead in differential. The Illinois state champions need to beat FC Delco Fury II (0-2) and pump in the goals while they're at it.