Group winners decided at US Youth Soccer Region IV Championships
Preliminary Games, Day 3 of 3
Quarterfinals take place on Friday
SEATTLE (Via US Youth Soccer) — Wednesday brought an end to exciting preliminary games at the 2017 US Youth Soccer Region IV (West) Championships at the 60 Acres Soccer Complex in Redmond, Washington. The chase for the Regional and National Championships continues for the 112 teams who have qualified to move on to Friday’s quarterfinals.
Two rescheduled group games will be played Thursday to completely wrap up the preliminary round.
After three challenging days of group play, four of the six returning 2016 Region IV Champions are still alive in the hunt to defend their titles. Several other contenders are also moving on to the quarterfinals and looking to take the next step toward capturing the regional championship.
“Having a chance to play for the regional title means everything for the boys,” said 18U Boys Oxnard PAL 99 (CA-S) coach Andreas Wedderien, whose team advanced from a group that entered Wednesday with each team having three points. “A lot of these guys are going to go to college. It would be a nice sending away for them to go as champions, or even to advance to the semifinals or finals.”
Oxnard PAL, which stands for the Police Activities League, started as a community outreach program to keep kids off the streets and away from negative influences, Wedderien said. The coach said the program has continued to get better, but this is the first year they’ve had a team get to this stage of the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series.
Wedderien said this 18U team is one that the younger players in the club can look up to and view as “heroes.” And aside from setting an example for the other teams to follow, the Oxnard PAL players are looking to take advantage of their opportunities before some players head off to college.
“It’s an extra step up toward where they want to be,” Wedderien said. “Some of the players want to be professionals. Some want to play in college. Some of them just play for the love of the game. This event definitely gets them a little closer to their dream and what they want to achieve.”
Regional winners of the 13U through 19/20U age groups earn a berth to the 2017 US Youth Soccer National Championships, which will be played July 24-30 at the Toyota Soccer Center in Frisco, Texas.
The US Youth Soccer National Championships will consist of US Youth Soccer Regional Champions in the 13U through 19/20U Boys and Girls age groups, as well as the US Youth Soccer National League qualifiers in the 15U through 19/20U Boys and Girls age groups to complete the field of 96 teams.
Here are a few recaps from the third day of group play…
A 2-2 draw helped Real Colorado National (CO) hold off Heat FC 04 KR (NV) for second place in 13U Girls Group B and a place in the quarterfinals. Lauren Mirande gave Real Colorado, which entered the game with a one-point lead on Heat FC in the standings, some breathing room with a 17th-minute goal. However, the Nevada side responded with quickly with consecutive strikes from Aurrianna Parker and Piper Reid to give the Heat a 2-1 lead. Needing to avoid a loss, Colorado came out of halftime with a purpose, and Isabel Murdock found the back of the net to tie the game. That score line held, as Real Colorado earned the draw it needed to finish in second.
PacNW 03 Maroon (WA) earned a spot in the 14U Girls quarterfinals with a 1-0 win over Arizona Arsenal 03 Premier Girls Teal (AZ) on Wednesday. The Washington side entered the day behind Arsenal in the standings, so it came out with an attacking mindset in the first half. The aggression paid off in the 16th minute when Madisen Rauch cut into the box from the right side and powered a shot off the keeper’s fingertips and under the bar — putting PacNW up, 1-0. The strike proved to be the difference, as PacNW held on for the win, which put it into second in Group C, behind group winner Leahi 03 Premier (HI), which finished with two wins and a draw in preliminary play.
After a couple of ties to begin the week, WA Timbers 02G Red 1 (OR) (SC) earned a 1-0 win over 15U Girls Group D leader D6CL Ethos FC Saints 02G Blue (CA-N) (SC) on Wednesday to hold on to second and earn a berth to the quarterfinals. After a scoreless first half, Paige German found the back of the net in the 43rd minute to give the Timbers an early second-half lead. The Oregon side’s defense, which allowed just one goal in each of its first two games, held strong for the remainder of the match to record the clean sheet. The win allowed the Timbers to stay above PacNW 02 Maroon (WA), which won big on Wednesday.
A late equalizer helped 19/20U Girls Legends FC 98 Academy (CA-S) earn a 2-2 draw against Santa Clara Sporting 98G Green (CA-N), which put the Cal South side through to the quarterfinals. McKenzie Moore put Legends in front in the ninth minute, but Kyllie Glock equalized for Santa Clara shortly before halftime. Both teams applied high pressure in a back-and-forth second half, and Santa Clara managed to record a go-ahead goal via Victoria Chavez in the 73rd minute. With that score line putting Santa Clara through and sending Legends home, the Cal South side pushed numbers forward looking to earn the point it needed with a draw. On the second of consecutive corner kicks, Krysta Catone headed home a ball the just avoided the keeper’s outreached hand — forcing the 2-2 draw and giving Legends a berth to the quarterfinals.
A comeback win helped Legends FC B04 (CA-S) hold off La Roca AV (UT) for second place in 13U Boys Group C. The Utah side got on the scoreboard first, as Collin Chandler found the back of the net just before halftime. Knowing it would be in trouble if that result held, Legends performed well out of the break and equalized when Angel Villamar slotted his low shot past the keeper in the 44th minute. La Roca threatened the Legends goal several times in the late stages, but it never managed a clean look. In the 62nd minute, Armaan McLeod ran on to a bouncing ball in the box and hit a half volley into the roof of the net to seal the 2-1 victory for Legends. The Cal South side finished even on points with Scottsdale Soccer Blackhawks Zelin (AZ), who took first based on goal differential.
Heat FC 02 (NV) and Excel Soccer Academy 02 (AZ) played to a 2-2 draw, which allowed them to finish even on points on top 15U Boys Group B. Tristan Smith opened the scoring for Heat FC in the 22nd minute, but Sergio Lopez replied five minutes later with an equalizer for Excel SA. The Arizona keeper dropped down to make a key save late in the first half to keep the score tied entering the break. That saved allowed his side to the take the lead in the 54th minute, when Ezekiel Anaya’s shot snuck into the net. It appeared that would be the game-winner, but Nevada’s Andrew Siciliano scored a stoppage-time equalizer to bring the fourth tie in six games within the group. Heat FC finished ahead of Excel in the standings due to a tiebreaker.
A 3-0 win on Wednesday helped defending Region IV Champion Santa Clara Sporting 00B Green (CA-N) win 17U Boys Group B with a 2-0-1 record. Holding just a one-point advantage over CCV 00 Boys (AZ) entering the match, Santa Clara earned some early breathing room with an Abel Flores strike in the 19th minute. Luis Flores doubled the advantage shortly after halftime, and Angel Avalos Guzman added a 70th-minute insurance goal. The Santa Clara defense, which allowed just one goal in group play, picked up its second straight clean sheet to seal the victory and take first place in the group.
Oxnard PAL 99 (CA-S) came back from a goal down twice to beat HSC Bulls Academy 99B (HI), 3-2, in a winner-take-all match in 18U Boys Group C — where all teams entered Wednesday with three points in the standings. The Bulls came out with sustained pressure in the opening minutes and broke through with an Aiden Spagnoli strike in the 16th minute. Oxnard earned a penalty kick in the 25th minute, and Alejandro Jimenez beat the keeper into the right corner to equalize the score. HSC pulled ahead again when Liam Nichols Shipley found the back of the net, but Andres Zuniga once again provided a response for Oxnard in the 48th minute to tie the game at 2-2. Zachary Godeck later gave Oxnard its first lead with a strike midway through the half, and the Cal South side held on to that lead to pick up a critical three points to put it through to the quarterfinals.