The Edmond Sun

Sports

June 24, 2013

Competition heats up in Southern Regional

EDMOND — The next step in achieving Regional Championship dreams started Monday for teams in the Under-14 through Under-16 age groups at the US Youth Soccer Region III Championships at the Blake-Service Soccer Complex. After the quarterfinal matches, just four teams remain in each of these gender age groups. Those teams are now preparing for the upcoming semifinal matches and a chance to get one step closer to a spot in the US Youth Soccer National Championships, scheduled for July 22-28 at Overland Park Soccer Complex in Overland Park, Kan.

While Monday’s winners still have a couple steps to take before being crowned US Youth Soccer Region III Champions, one team soon will earn that title on Tuesday when NASA 12 Elite II (Ga.) and TBU Premier Girls 93 (Fla.) square off in the Under-19 girls final with a ticket to Overland Park on the line. NASA is looking to reclaim the Region III crown after winning in 2011 and falling in the semifinals last year.

Notes on Monday’s games

It took overtime to decide the Under-16 girls matchup between GCUFC 97 (Miss.) and 97 FC Alliance Black (Tenn.). The teams exchanged goals by GCUFC’s Margaret Kowalski and Alliance’s Bailey Williams in the first half and the score remained deadlocked at 1 to force overtime.

Just a few minutes after GCUFC had a powerful strike hit the crossbar, Delaney Griffin gathered the ball in the box and shot across the face of goal to beat the diving keeper and give Alliance the lead. The final whistle blew moments later to give Alliance the 2-1 win and move the Tennessee state champions into the semifinals, where they’ll meet 97 Norcross Fury Premier (Ga.).

Elsewhere in Under-16 girls action, 97 Louisiana Fire Navy remained perfect in Edmond with a 3-0 win over Lady Chiefs Elite 97 (Ga.). The Fire’s Alexandra Thomas put her team up in the 36th minute when her shot was deflected by the keeper but had just enough momentum to roll over the goal line. Thomas doubled the lead with a left-footed strike in the 43rd minute and the Fire received a late goal from Kassandra Ortega to cap the scoring. Defending Region III Champions Sting 97 (N. Texas) will be waiting for the Fire after they won 5-1 on Monday.

Under-16 boys GSA Phoenix 97 Red (Ga.) had its hands full against a tough LRFC Elite (Ark.) squad. GSA, which won all three of its pool games, put pressure on LRFC, but the Arkansas state champions held strong for the entirety of the game. It took a Joseph Efford goal with just a minute left in regular time to push GSA through to the semifinals.

After registering three wins in its preliminary games without conceding a goal, Under-15 girls Liverpool 98 Elite (N. Texas) was up to much of the same on Monday against Tophat 16 Gold (Ga.). After a scoreless first half, Liverpool’s Sarah Fagan found the back of the net in the 41st minute to give her team the only goal it would need. Liverpool’s defense turned in another shutout as the Texas side advances to the semifinals, where it will meet Tennessee SC 16 in a rematch of last year’s final, which Tennessee won 2-0.

Under-15 boys Plantation FC 97 (Fla.) will be moving on after a tight 2-1 win over local side Oklahoma Football Club. Planation’s Nicholas Hinds opened the scoring in the 6th minute, but OFC came right back when Christian Balderas Garcia netted an equalizer in the 12th minute. The score remained tied until an own goal by OFC gave Plantation a 2-1 advantage, which would hold up to the final whistle. Plantation will meet 2012 Region III runners-up FC Dallas 98 Premier in the semifinals, while defending champion Sunrise Elite 97/98 (Fla.) is also still alive.

The Under-14 Girls matchups featured several strong performances by the winnings teams. Last year’s runner-up, Tulsa Blitz 99 white won 5-0, and Oklahoma FC 99 posted a 4-1 win. Tulsa Blitz will meet Sunrise Sting 98/99 (Fla.), a 3-0 winner on Monday, in the semifinals. Meanwhile, OFC will play Tophat 17 Gold (Ga.) for a chance to advance to the final.

The Under-14 boys age group had a little extra action on Monday, as HESC 99B NAVY (S. Texas) won a spot-kick shootout to claim first in Pool C and host Solar Chelsea Red 99 (N. Texas) in the quarterfinal. Chelsea got off to a good start when Carlos Flores scored five minutes into the game, but HESC’s Jesus Toscano scored on either side of halftime to give his side a 2-1 advantage.

Chelsea took over from there, getting a pair of goals from Javier Leija and one from Mandel Steward, to win 4-2. The loser of the shootout, TSC Hurricane 99 Bedwell (Okla.), also lost its quarterfinal match, falling 2-1 to 2012 semifinalist Texas Rush 99-Prep.

Regional winners of the Under-13 through Under-19 age groups 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.

Daily reports and  results from the tournament are available on http://championships.usyouthsoccer.org/.

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