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Soccer News: PDL Conference Championship Hosted By Austin Aztex
Austin to host Ocean City, Thunder Bay, Victoria
The Austin Aztex will host the 2013 PDL Championships presented by Nike after a thrilling weekend of action saw four teams advance from the PDL Conference Championships to keep their hopes of a title alive. The Aztex will welcome the Ocean City Nor’easters, Thunder Bay Chill and Victoria Highlanders to House Park for the conclusion to the 2013 PDL season.
Austin claimed victory in the Southern Conference, with more than 5,000 fans on hand at House Park over two days of competition. The Aztex defeated Mid South Division rival the Laredo Heat to earn their berth in the semifinals as Khiry Shelton had a goal and assist to lead his side to victory.
The Aztex will face the Eastern Conference Champion Ocean City Nor’easters in the semifinals after Ocean City defeated the Carolina Dynamo in a penalty shootout in Saturday’s conference semifinals before recording a 3-1 victory against the Ottawa Fury in Sunday night’s final. Coming off back-to-back Mid Atlantic Division titles, this is the Nor’easters first trip to the PDL Championships since joining the league in 2003.
The Victoria Highlanders will also be making their first appearance at the championships after taking a pair of well-fought victories against the Ventura County Fusion and Portland Timbers U-23s to advance as the Western Conference Champion. The Highlanders got three goals in two games from Brett Levis, both of which proved to be game-winners, as they edged out Northwest Division rival Portland 1-0 in Sunday’s final.
The Thunder Bay Chill will face the Highlanders in an all-Canadian semifinal after they booked their return to the championships with a 3-0 victory against defending champion FC London on Sunday evening in the Central Conference Final. The 2008 champion is making its second appearance in the past three seasons after reaching the semifinals in 2011, and its fourth appearance overall at the championships.
The schedule for the semifinals and championship game will be announced shortly, with a full schedule for the championship weekend to be finalized on Monday.
FROM EARLIER: Five teams advance through division playoffs to weekend action
The 16 teams that will compete in the four PDL Conference Championships were finalized on Tuesday night as the Ottawa Fury, Reading United, Carolina Dynamo, Michigan Bucks and Portland Timbers U-23s all advanced through their division playoff contests.
The Timbers U-23s needed a penalty shootout to advance past the Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 in the Northwest Division, with goalkeeper David Meves scoring the decisive fifth kick to give his side a 5-4 win after the two teams had played to a 1-1 draw after regulation and extra time. The Timbers U-23s will face the Fresno Fuego on Saturday in the Western Conference Championship semifinals, with the Victoria Highlanders meeting the Ventura County Fusion in the other semifinal.
Reading also needed extra time to advance against the Baltimore Bohemians, and got goals in the additional 30 minutes from Fatai Alashe and Dante Marini, both off assists by Jason Plumhoff, to take a 3-1 victory and move on from the Mid Atlantic Division playoff. United will now face Ottawa in Saturday’s Eastern Conference Championship semifinals, with the Fury pulling away for a 6-0 victory against the GPS Portland Phoenix in the Northeast Division playoff behind a hat trick by Carl Haworth.
The Carolina Dynamo round out the Eastern Conference Championship field after a late goal by Sebastian Ibeagha earned a 2-1 victory against the Virginia Beach Piranhas in the South Atlantic Division playoff. The Dynamo, who reached last season’s PDL Championship Game, will meet the Ocean City Nor’easters in Saturday’s semifinals.
The Michigan Bucks got a big second half, and goals from four different players, to defeat the Chicago Fire PDL 4-0 to advance in the Great Lakes Division playoff. Dion Peters opened the scoring, and his goal was followed by strikes by Zach Steinberger, Matt Walker and Kenny Uzoigwe, setting up a contest with the Thunder Bay Chill on Saturday in the Central Conference Championship semifinals. FC London and the Real Colorado Foxes will meet in the second semifinal.
The 2013 PDL Playoffs continue Friday night with the semifinals of the Southern Conference Championship, hosted by the Austin Aztex. The opening semifinal will see the Ocala Stampede face the Laredo Heat, with the host Aztex then meeting the Panama City Beach Pirates in the second semifinal.
The four conference champions will convene for the 2013 PDL Championship, to be held at a location to be determined from August 2-4, 2013.
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About PDL: The top developmental men’s league in North American, the 2013 PDL features 65 teams within four conferences throughout the United States and Canada. The PDL season consists of 14 regular season matches for each team, seven home and seven away, and provides elite collegiate players the opportunity to taste a higher level of competition while maintaining their eligibility. In addition to league play, PDL teams compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as various exhibitions. The PDL has proven to be an important stepping-stone for top professionals now playing throughout the world.
About USL PRO: USLPRO is the strongest, best operated and most experienced North American men’s professional soccer league below MLS, both on and off the field. In 2013 USL PRO begins a groundbreaking, multi-year partnership with MLS that will enhance the development of professional players in North America, strengthen the competition in both leagues, and establish a solid foundation for future collaboration. Focused on franchise stability and longevity, USL PRO will feature 13 teams participating in the 2013 season, including expansion teams in Phoenix and Tampa. The league is focused on aggressive but deliberate growth by adding teams fully capable of meeting USL and US Soccer standards, which are located in markets that further promote regional league play. In addition to league play, USL PRO teams will compete in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as well as various domestic and international exhibitions. USL PRO is the longest-standing pro league affiliate member of US Soccer.
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