First champion crowned, more finals set at Region III Championships
EDMOND, Okla. (June 25, 2013) — Eight teams have played their way into the final matches of their age groups, and NASA 12 Elite II (GA) became the first champion crowned at the 2013 US Youth Soccer Region III (South) Championships, presented by the National Guard, in Edmond, Okla. By winning the Under-19 Girls title, NASA 12 Elite II became the first Region III Champion to qualify for the 2013 US Youth Soccer National Championships, which will be held July 22-28 in Overland Park, Kan.
After Tuesday’s games at the ESC Complex, the final matchups are set for the Under-13 age group, as well as Under-19 Boys and Under-18 Girls. Another set of teams have inched closer to competing for a US Youth Soccer Region III Championship, as Tuesday’s quarterfinal games saw teams in the Under-17 and Under-18 age groups take the next step in their quest for the title by advancing to their respective semifinals.
After regulation and overtime periods weren’t enough to separate NASA and TBU Premier Girls 93 (FL) in the Under-19 Girls final, the teams took to the penalty spot for a shootout to decide the champion. NASA goalkeeper Alyse Scott made three diving saves to give her team the win and Region III Championship.
NASA coach Dave Smith said he’s very happy to have his squad win the title in its last trip to Regionals after all the great experiences the players have had at past events.
"This event is just great. It brings together the best teams from around the region," Smith said. "It’s a great atmosphere. National staff is here watching players. College coaches are here watching. It’s just a good event to come to and get to know people from the others states."
After falling behind early, local team Under-18 Girls Oklahoma FC 96 (OK) scored three unanswered goals to defeat 94 NC Fusion Elite (NC), 3-1, and advance to Wednesday’s final. In the 22nd minute, Fusion’s Rachel Baylor received a perfect through ball and touched it around the keeper to give her squad the early advantage. OFC answered 13 minutes later when it played a free kick along the ground that was settled and fired into the back of the net by Alexandria Jones. Shortly after half, OFC took the lead when Erin Eckart gathered the ball just outside the box and fired it high and under the crossbar to put her team ahead. Lexi Carroll added a goal for OFC in the 60th minute when she beat the keeper with a hard shot into the left corner of the goal to cap her team's 3-1 win. OFC will face Lonestars 95G Red (TX-S), a 1-0 winner, in the final.
Under-19 Boys Vestavia Steamers 94 Black (AL) used goals from Alan Harwell and Jack Hopkins to defeat Dallas Texans (TX-N), 2-1, and advance to the championship final. Texans scored on an own goal in the 68th minute to make the final 20 minutes interesting, but they couldn’t find an equalizer. The Steamers will meet Plantation Copa (FL) in the Region III final with a chance to advance to the National Championships, where the Under-19 Boys play for the prestigious James P. McGuire Cup.
It took two late goals for Oklahoma FC 00 (OK) to defeat Ponte Vedra Storm U-13 Girls Gold (FL) in the Under-13 Girls semifinals. Ponte Vedra took the lead when Danielle Anderson found the back of the net in the 32nd minute. The Florida state champions held that advantage for 30 minutes, before OFC struck in the final minutes. Aubrey Ruttman tied the game in the 63rd minute, and Sydney Connelly scored the game winner in the final seconds to give OFC the 2-1 win. Liverpool 00 Elite (TX-N) awaits OFC in the final, having won each of its games in Edmond by at least three goals.
A pair of undefeated squads met in the Under-13 Boys semifinals, as United FA 00 Elite (GA) took on Charlotte SA Predator (NC). CSA got on the board first when Jaylin Lindsey scored in the 24th minute. United countered with a pair of second-half goals by Daniel Espinoza and Carlos Reyes, which proved to be enough in the 2-1 victory. The win places United in the final, where it will meet Andromeda 00B Red (TX-N).
An upset occurred in the Under-18 Boys division, as 95 Lions White (TX-S) grabbed a late winner to knock off Pool B-winner Concorde Fire Elite (GA). Lions took a first-half lead when Juan Vazquez found the back of the net, but Concorde responded after half with a tying goal by Robert Taylor in the 63rd minute. With just a few minutes left, Lions’ Jiovanny Gonzalez got on the end of a long throw by Dakota Pebworth and headed it home in for what would be the game winner in his team’s 2-1 victory. Concorde still has a shot at the national championship, as it qualified by winning the Under-18 Boys Blue Division of the US Youth Soccer National League. Meanwhile, Lions will move on to face Oklahoma FC 95 (OK) with a spot in the Region III Championship final on the line.
Under-17 Girls Tophat 14 Gold (GA) entered Tuesday’s quarterfinal after going 3-0-0 in the preliminary round while outscoring opponents by 14 goals. But it met a determined MFC Fire 96 Girls Premier (MS) team that played tough defense to shut out Tophat and earn a 1-0 win to advance. Payton Roney’s 34th-minute goal was the lone tally in the tightly-contested quarterfinal, as MFC Fire will move on to play AHFC 96 (TX-S), which is making its second straight Region III semifinal appearance.
In a thrilling Under-17 Boys game, 96 Lobos Rush Blue (TN) defeated Vestavia Steamers 96 Black (AL), 3-2, in overtime. Chase Clack scored just before halftime, and Lobos Rush took a two-goal lead when Michael Jacobs found the back of the net in the 72nd minute. The Steamers quickly responded with a Jeffrey Simonetti goal in the 77th minute, and Stacey Reimann scored a dramatic 90th-minute equalizer to send the game to overtime. After a scoreless first overtime period, William Caughron netted the winner in the 115th minute for Lobos Rush, sending them to Wednesday’s semifinals.
Regional winners earn a berth to the 2013 US Youth Soccer National Championships, which will be played July 22-28 at Overland Park Soccer Complex in Overland Park, Kan.
The US Youth Soccer National Championships will consist of US Youth Soccer Regional Champions in the Under-13 through Under-19 Boys and Girls age groups, as well as the US Youth Soccer National League qualifiers in the Under-15 through Under-18 Boys and Girls age groups to complete the field of 88 teams.
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