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Best Defensive Units in the Girls Academy’s Mid-Atlantic Conference (Spring 2024 Update)

April 20, 2024, | Courtesy of

With the 2023-2024 season entering the final stretch, SoccerWire checks back in on the Girls Academy’s Mid-Atlantic Conference with a look at some of the top defensive units.

As those who have grown up and played soccer in the Mid-Atlantic area know, defense is a core philosophy for club’s across the region. Last year, multiple teams in the GA from the area were anchored by stellar defensive lines leading them to GA National Playoff appearances. Through the years they have also earned top honors, including TSJ FC Virginia winning the National Championship last year in the U17 age group.

Here are some of the top performing units from teams from across the GA Mid-Atlantic Conference in the U15-U19 age groups.

Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals 09: Started Mid-Atlantic Conference play in fine form, winning their first six matches while conceding just three goals during that same time frame. Their .5 Goals Against Average is tied with Beadling SC (more on them in a minute) for the lowest among all U15 Mid-Atlantic Conference teams. With shutout victories over Skyline Elite (4-0) and Sporting Athletic Club (1-0) Philadelphia have shown that they will be a tough team to break down over the course of the rest of the season.

Beadling SC 09: Led by recent USYNT ID Center invitees Delaney Amato (goalkeeper) and Allie Emswiler (center back), Beadling have surged to the top of the U15 Mid-Atlantic standings (9-0-1, 28 points). The duo alongside fellow defenders Elena Moreschi, Sarah Warzinski, Makayla Szykowny, and Rosalia Varlotta impeded opponent’s attacking efforts all season in GA Play, earning six shutouts in conference play and a third place showing at the Champions Cup.

TSJ FC Virginia 09: Started 2024 with four consecutive shutout victories in conference play, blanking Sporting Athletic Club (3-0), Real JFC (1-0), Baltimore Armour (0-0), and Baltimore Celtic (3-0). Goalkeeper Alyssa Chevraux, who was called up to a USYNT ID Center event last year, leads a tightly organized defense that has earned eight shutouts this season.

TSJ FC Virginia 08: The lone remaining undefeated team in the U16 Mid-Atlantic Conference (11-0-3, 36 points), TSJ have not conceded a goal in their last three conference games, including a 0-0 draw last weekend against PA Classics. Goalkeeper Katy Haransky , and defenders Maya Engel and Delainey Duggan have set the tone, providing leadership in close matches and making difficult stops to end attacking chances.

Beadling SC 08: Pulled off two strong results on the road earlier this month, shutting out Baltimore Celtic (4-0) while holding on for a tough 1-1 draw against Baltimore Armour. Beadling’s backline works seamlessly together to form a tightly knit line, clearing out any dangerous balls and making key interceptions across their third of the pitch. Last year’s Mid-Atlantic Conference Champions are primed for another deep run this season (6-1-3, 18 points) thanks to the work of defenders Chloe Bird, Sahara Catlos, and Abby Spalla and goalkeeper Camryn Friday.

Keystone FC 08: In just their first season in GA play Keystone’s 08s have made an immediate impression vaulting to the top of the Mid-Atlantic Conference (4-4-3, 15 points). They are also coming into form just at the right time, having earned points in each of their last six matches (4-0-2, 14 points) which includes a 2-0 victory over PA Classics last weekend. Their .91 Goals Against average is the third lowest among all teams in the conference.

Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals 07: Stormed out to a strong start in Mid-Atlantic Conference play having won each of their first seven matches so far this season (7-0-0, 21 points). Their defense has played a major role in their run to the top of the standings. In particular their ability to hold onto leads late has proven pivotal in their growth and development, winning their first five games each time by a 2-1 scoreline.

Defenders Kayla Raghunandanan (2025- Villanova), Sarah Tyler (2025-Albany), Payton Radosti (2025-Uncommitted), Mikayla Gray (2025-Maryland), Sofia Gartner (2025-Coastal Carolina), Taylor Maxwell (2025-Syracuse), Cassidy McCusker (2026), and Sonya Franklin (2025-Uncommitted) have worked together to snuff goal-scoring opportunities thus far this season and will each play a pivotal role in Philadelphia’s run for a third consecutive Mid-Atlantic Conference title.

TSJ FC Virginia 07: Booked seven clean sheets in conference play this season with two games remaining, pushing TSJ into the top three (11-2-1, 34 points). SoccerWire Featured Player and Villanova verbal commit Lillian Mitchell has been stellar inside the eighteen yard box for TSJ, using her height and athletic prowess to parry shots over the bar and wide of the posts. Working alongside defenders Hailey Martinez (2025-Oregon State), Jayden Fisher (2025-American), Bree Bridges (2025-Syracuse), Chloe Nelson (2025-James Madison), Jaelyn White (2025-Towson) and Sammy Shroeder (2025-Binghamton) TSJ are primed for another strong postseason run.




A former Golden Glove winner, Mitchell is a two-time USYNT ID Center and three-time GA Talent ID invitee.

Real JFC 07: Holds a conference-low .38 Goals Against average and has not allowed a goal in their last three Mid-Atlantic games. JFC specializes in making tough stops on defense and then building attacking plays out of the back, leading them to a 4-2-2 record on 14 points early in their Mid-Atlantic Conference season. Look for right-back and SoccerWire Featured Player Morgan Shank to continue to play a key role in the club’s success through the spring.




Shank was selected to participate in last year’s GA Mid-Atlantic Talent ID event and is coming off of a strong high school season at Cherokee in which she earned All-Conference honors.

TSJ FC Virginia 05/06: Maintaining a perfect record (14-0-0, 42 points) TSJ are still the team to beat in the U19 Mid-Atlantic Conference. A group composed of players that won the U17 National Championship last year and members of the U19 squad that finished second, the St. James are once looking to be one of the more difficult teams to beat not just in the Mid-Atlantic, but across the GA. Their defense is a major reason for that-they have allowed just .36 goals per game while shutting out their conference opponents nine times.

TSJ is anchored by multiple Division 1 2024 commits including Chloe Thompson (Colgate),Aleksia Christensen (Rice), Ella Guzulatis(Northeastern), Erika Schneider (Pitt), Elizabeth Rubino (William and Mary), Ashleigh Vizek (Virginia Tech) and Raegan Calvo (Radford) who work alongside goalkeepers Addison Roemer (American) and Naomi Person(Elon).

Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals 05/06: Have allowed just three goals in seven matches thus far in their season rocketing them into second place in the U19 standings (6-0-1, 19 points). Defenders Brooke Commins (2024-Lafayette), Kate Weyer (2024-VCU), Casey Malone (2024-Charleston) and Olivia Stone(Cincinnati) lead an experienced backline that are looking to do big things in their final club season. Thus far, they have earned three shutouts this season, a number that will continue to rise as they continue to dive into Mid-Atlantic Conference action.

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