U-15 GIRLS' ACADEMY PLAYOFFS: WHAT TO WATCH FOR

By Jeremy Reid

The top 32 teams in the country have descended upon the SoCal Soccer Complex in Oceanside, Calif. for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-15 Girls' Playoffs, set to kick off on Saturday. The 32 teams have been split into eight groups of four, with the group winners to meet in the knockout round quarterfinals on Friday, June 29 in Oceanside. Four teams will advance to the Academy Championships in Kansas City, Mo., from July 8-11, where a champion will be crowned. Here's what you need to know about the first-ever U-15 Girls' playoffs.

Feature Games

Fans can catch the action from five different U-15 Playoff games live on ussoccerda.com, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Facebook page and the U.S. Soccer YouTube Channel. In Saturday's opening round of pool play, Beach Futbol Club took down FC Fury NY 2-1 at the stadium field. The San Jose Earthquakes and Oakwood Soccer Club will be featured from Group B on Monday, June 25 at 11 a.m. PT while NTH Tophat's showdown with hometown San Diego Surf will step into the feature game spotlight on Wednesday, June 27 at noon PT.

In addition, the knockout round quarterfinals will be featured on Friday, June 29 at 11 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. PT.

High-Flying Squad Takes on the Locals

NTH Tophat, the highest-scoring team in the U-15 Academy, is the No. 4 overall seed in the Playoffs and the top seed in Group C. Tophat scored 117 goals in 30 games this regular season en route to winning the Southeast Division and will open the playoffs on Saturday against FC Stars of Mass. Danielle Lewis has scored a team-high 25 goals, while Alexis Wright added 20 goals and Arianna Manrique netted 17 times in just 14 games. After opening against FC Stars, the Atlanta-based club will face Michigan Hawks on Monday before closing group play against one of the two San Diego-area clubs in the U-15 Playoffs, San Diego Surf.

The Surf are seeded second in Group C and 16th overall. They enter the Playoffs riding a five-game unbeaten streak and took home the No. 1 wild card spot after finishing fourth in the Southwest Division. Dorrian Savage led San Diego in scoring this season with 21 goals. The hometown club will meet Michigan Hawks on Saturday and FC Stars on Monday before Wednesday's showdown against Tophat.

Another Hometown Team Headlines Group B

The other local club in the U-15 Playoffs, Albion SC, has been drawn into Group B. Balanced scoring throughout the season has led Albion to the Playoffs, as four players scored at least seven goals, led by Sarah Funk's 11. After winning its last two regular season games to secure a postseason berth, Albion will open play in Oceanside against No. 3 overall seed San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday. The area club will then meet Penn Fusion Soccer Academy on Monday, June 25 and finish group play on Wednesday, June 27 against Oakwood Soccer Club.

FC Dallas Charges Into Playoffs

The No. 2 overall seed in the U-15 Playoffs, FC Dallas suffered just two losses in the regular season (21-2-7), the best in the Academy. The Toros arrive to Oceanside unbeaten in 10 games since March 24. Champions of the Frontier Division, FC Dallas will look to replicate the success its Boys Academy teams have recently enjoyed, as the club has won three age group titles in the last two seasons. Morganne Eikelbarner leads the way offensively for FC Dallas, scoring 27 goals in the regular season campaign.

FCD headlines Group E. The Texas team will kick things off on Saturday against No. 32 LA Galaxy San Diego, who earned the final wildcard spot into the playoffs. Next up will be Reign Academy on Monday and Concorde Fire on Wednesday.

Others to Keep an Eye On

Francesca Yanchuk's 35 goals this season led the U-15 Academy in goals. She put on that scoring run in just 22 appearances for the Boston Breakers Academy, and she'll look to lead the team in Group D. There, the Breakers will take on Solar Soccer Club, the No. 8 overall seed, Legends FC and Indiana Fire Academy. The U-15 level's second-leading scorer was Josephine Master of So Cal Blues, who netted 32 times this season. Master and So Cal Blues will compete in Group A alongside Eclipse Select Soccer Club, FC Virginia and Crossfire Premier.