Busy weekend looms as National League soccer returns for 10th straight year

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It’s that time of year again when the pristine fields of Gillette Soccer Complex fill up with youth soccer players from around the country as the U.S. Youth Soccer Association’s National League holds its Fall Showcase for the 10th consecutive time in Wilson, starting Thursday, Nov. 29.

Take note, hotels and restaurants around town will also be full with youth soccer players and their families this weekend and next.

There will be be 112 teams in the Girls Ages 16U-19U divisions competing over four days at Gillette and Rocky Mount Sports Complex as the National League, an adjunct program of U.S. Youth Soccer, kicks off its 12th season. In a bit of a change from previous years, the next weekend Wilson and Rocky Mount will host Boys and Girls Ages 14U and 15U Fall Showcases. Previously, all the girls teams would play one weekend in Wilson and the boys would play the following week. This year, the Boys Ages 16U-19U divisions will play at BB&T Soccer Complex at Bryan Park outside of Greensboro on Dec. 6-9.

Each team will play four matches over the four days. The Boys Ages14U-15U Fall Showcase will have 64 total teams participating while there will be 60 girls teams playing the same weekend.

“We’re having to do three different locations because of the number of teams that we have,” explained Richard Frazier of the Wilson Parks and Recreation Department and the man mostly responsible for bringing National League soccer to Wilson each year since 2009.

“We’re just excited to be able to host an event of this magnitude,” said Frazier, who is also the Wilson Youth Soccer Association executive director. “Right now, we’re expecting over 300 college coaches to come in and watch these girls play this weekend. This is a premier showcase event and we’re just proud to show off our facility, our staff and our town to everyone that comes in.”

The girls Fall Showcase is usually held in conjunction with the NCAA Division I College Cup, which is being held this weekend at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary. That means many college coaches who visit the Triangle for the College Cup will travel to Wilson for the National League opening matches.

Four North Carolina teams will be in action this weekend in the Girls Showcase — two each from North Carolina Football Club and Charlotte Soccer Association. The NCFC Elite 02 (17U) and Elite 03 (16U) are joined by the CSA North Huntersville Elite (18U) and CSA South 2003 Elite (16U).

The NFCS Elite 03 and the CSA North Huntersville Elite should find Gillette to their liking as they were two of the five girls clubs that won U.S. Youth Soccer North Carolina State Cup championships here three weeks ago. In addition to those five tournaments, Gillette also was the site of four championships for the Kepner President’s State Cup the same weekend.

The fields at Gillette will finally catch a break for a few weeks after the National League Boys Fall Showcase concludes before Wilson Youth Soccer Association teams start playing again in February.