More teams headed to NPL Champions Cup after Washington State Premier League crowns fall winners

Eight more teams have booked their places in the 2013 NPL Champions Cup via first-place finishes in the Washington State Premier League, which wrapped up its inaugural fall season in December. The WSPL crowned champions in the U-13 through U-18 boys age groups, as well as the U-13 and U-14 girls divisions. The remaining girls age groups will conclude this spring.

Competition was fierce, with six of the divisions decided by three points or fewer. In the end, eight squads — representing eight different clubs — were left on top and will advance to the NPL Champions Cup July 18-22 in suburban Denver, where they will take on winners from the other 16 leagues.

[2013 NPL Champions Cup] [List of participating teams]

Eight more teams have booked their places in the 2013 NPL Champions Cup via first-place finishes in the Washington State Premier League, which wrapped up its inaugural fall season in December. The WSPL crowned champions in the U-13 through U-18 boys age groups, as well as the U-13 and U-14 girls divisions. The remaining girls age groups will conclude this spring.

Competition was fierce, with six of the divisions decided by three points or fewer. In the end, eight squads — representing eight different clubs — were left on top and will advance to the NPL Champions Cup July 18-22 in suburban Denver, where they will take on winners from the other 16 leagues.

 

They will be the first-ever participants from the brand-new WSPL, which joined the NPL in the fall and is managed by the Puget Sound Premier League, one of the largest competitive soccer leagues in the Northwest.

 

“We had an incredible first season in the NPL, and we’re thrilled to see our winners advance to take on the other great teams from around the country,” PSPL President Stanley Holmes said. “The fact that no club had more than one fall champion demonstrates the competitive balance in our league, and it will be exciting to see our teams play in another challenging environment in Denver.”

 

Here’s a look at the WSPL teams headed to the 2013 NPL Champions Cup:

 

Boys U-13: Cobra Aguilitas (11-1-0)

With 52 goals scored versus only 12 allowed, undefeated Cobra Aguilitas put in the kind of well-rounded performance deserving of a title. But a stiff challenge from the San Carlos MV Bombers, who led the table with only 10 goals conceded, made this division a tight affair.

Aguilitas took the first head-to-head meeting 4-2, which would prove to be the Bombers’ only loss. The second matchup was a tie, and the eventual champions rolled through their final three matches to clinch the championship.

“The Cobra Aguilitas are excited to be able to represent the PSPL, their club and their community of Wenatchee,” Director of Coaching Kevin McDonald said. “To participate in a such a high-level event is something that they have been working so hard for.”

 

Girls U-13: ISC Gunners G’99 A (10-1-1)

The Gunners started off a bit shaky with a draw and loss in their first three matches, but from there, it was nine straight victories that pulled away from second-place ASE Synergy, who was four points behind at 8-3-1.

The clincher came in the second-to-last match, when ISC avenged its earlier loss to Synergy with a 1-0 triumph, and the club finished with a healthy goal differential of 29.

“These girls have consistently been one of the top teams in Washington state for the last four years," Gunners head coach and ISC Director of Coaching Jimmy Ball said. "The Washington State Premier League has given us the opportunity to prove ourselves statewide, and now the NPL Champions Cup will give us the chance to test our talents against some of the best in the country. I can’t tell you how excited and how ready my girls are to reach this next step."

 

Boys U-14: Wenatchee Fire B98 Black-Fenty (9-0-3)

With three teams separated by just four points, the boys U-14 division had plenty of balance at the top of the table. Wenatchee Fire claimed top honors and scored the most goals (33), while WPFC Fury finished a point behind with the league’s top goal differential (13) and MRFC came in third with the top defense (14 goals allowed).

All three of Wenatchee Fire’s losses came to the runners up, but its perfect record against the rest of the league made the difference and has the squad headed to face what’s sure to be another round of close competition at the NPL Champions Cup.

Taking the title is an especially proud moment for the club, which fields 16 teams from its base on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains in North Central Washington.
"It’s absolutely incredible for a club our size to have an opportunity to play on the national stage like this,” Director of Coaching Mike Washington said. “It says a lot not only for our coaches and our players, but also for the PSPL and US Club Soccer and what it’s trying to do to create opportunities for players to play at the highest level despite challenging socio-economic and geographical issues.”
"The boys are extremely excited to have this kind of opportunity,” he continued. “None of them have experienced anything even close to this before, and we hope to put our best foot forward and represent our league and state well."

 

Girls U-14: Northwest United FC98 Powell (9-2-1)

One of only two teams in all of the WSPL fall leagues to allow single-digit goals, Northwest United FC98 withstood a strong challenge from Cobra Azzurri, which finished two points back after notching a victory and draw against the champions.

But behind six shutout victories and two others by three or more goals, Northwest United posted the more consistent season and will be bound for Denver, where the most dominant team from the fall Oregon Premier League, Tualatin Hills United SC Onyx, will be waiting.

“This was a really big goal at the start of the year, and they worked very hard to get there,” coach Kristian Powell said. “I’m quite proud as a coach that we were able to beat some clubs with a bigger pool of players and now have a chance to face the nation’s best.”

 

Boys U-15: Kitsap Pumas Soccer Club BU15 (11-1-2)

The Pumas took command of another division that featured a close title race, as Emerald City FC and WPFC Fury each finished one point off the lead and far outpaced the champions in terms of goal differential.

Emerald City tied for the lead in all WSPL fall divisions with 55 goals scored, but the Pumas scratched out a one-point margin of victory thanks to a 3-1 win over the Fury on the next-to-last weekend and their lone draw in November.

“The standard of the league was very high, and it was an amazing run where three teams could have won,” Kitsap Pumas head coach James Ritchie said. “Our youth program is less than a year old, so to achieve what we have in such a small time frame goes beyond expectation. It will be a great experience for our young players to go up against some of the best clubs in the U.S., and I am sure they will take away some great memories from the tournament. We would like to thank US Club Soccer and the PSPL for all they do for youth soccer.”

 

Boys U-16: Tynecastle FC B96 (11-3-0)

There were no true runaway winners in the WSPL this fall, but Tynecastle came the closest. The squad finished undefeated, nine points clear of second-place Cascade FC and with 47 goals.

Three draws were the only blemishes, but a run of seven straight wins to close the season did not leave much doubt about which team would advance to play for a national championship.

“This is a special group of boys who work hard and are dedicated to each other,” coach David ‘Hoggy’ Hoggan said. “I’m proud of them and I’m really excited to take this team to the NPL Champions Cup.”

 

Boys U-17: Emerald City FC M95 Green (11-2-1)

With former West Ham United player and U.S. U-20 men’s national team coach Bobby Howe in charge, you’d expect Emerald City FC M95 Green to be a sharp group, and the team didn’t disappoint.

Second-place FCSC Boca Juniors took four points from their two head-to-head meetings, but outside of that, Howe’s bunch was too much. They led the division in goals scored (43) and fewest goals allowed (13) to win by a three-point margin.

"The Emerald City FC M95 Green team is very excited to participate in the NPL Champions Cup,” Howe said. “Not only will it represent our achievements in winning the Washington State Premier League, but it will also be the highlight of many of our players’ careers in youth soccer."

 

Boys U-18: Washington East SC BU18 Seely (9-4-1)

Of all the close finishes, the oldest boys division took the cake.

Washington East SC and Wenatchee Fire Black posted identical records, with RSA Elite coming up one point shy of a three-way tie for first. But Washington East rode disciplined defending to the championship via a win and draw against Wenatchee in head-to-head play.

Though the title-winners were a distant fourth in the division for goals scored (26), their 10 surrendered were easily the best, as the next-best defense gave up 22.

That rock-solid foundation should serve the team well in Denver against all manner of attacking and defending sides battling for the national crown.

“We are really looking forward to going to the NPL Champions Cup,” coach Tim Seely said. “This will be a great experience for the boys, and they worked hard all season. The league was competitive, tight, and down to the wire, and a lot of these boys are college-level players. It will be exciting to see them compete against some of the best in the nation.”

 

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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.