Semifinals set at 2018 US Youth Soccer Eastern Regional Championships
SPOTSYLVANIA, Va. (Via US Youth Soccer) — Following an exciting conclusion to group play on Sunday, the semifinal matchups are now set at the 2018 US Youth Soccer Eastern Regional Championships. The action will continue tomorrow, with all semifinals taking place at the Publix Virginia Soccer Training Center in Spotsylvania, Va.
The final day of group play meant several pivotal games took place Sunday, as teams fought to earn the necessary results to advance. The competitive level of the tournament was on full display, and multiple tiebreaking shootouts were needed to decide who advanced to the semifinals.
One team that earned the necessary result on Sunday to advance to the semifinals was 16U Girls FC Stars 2002 (MA). The Massachusetts side won a deciding group game to make its second straight semifinals appearance.
“We knew it was going to be very difficult to get out of this group, with Loudoun being the defending champion and Pipeline being a fantastic team,” FC Stars coach Brendon Boates said. “I’m extremely proud of them for doing that because it’s not easy.
“We made it to the semis last year and lost a really close, tough game. The girls have been looking forward to trying to get back there again and hopefully advance beyond that. We know it won’t be easy tomorrow, regardless of who we play, but we feel good about it.”
FC Stars and the rest of the advancing teams will now set their sights on earning a spot in the regional finals, and getting one step closer to the National Championships.
“It would be extremely exciting. These guys have been looking to do that the entire year,” Boates said of winning the Eastern Regional Championship. “It’s a really special event out there at the National Championships. It would be a great way to cap what has been a fantastic season already.”
Regional winners of the 13U through 19U age groups earn a berth to the 2018 US Youth Soccer National Championships, which will be played July 23-29 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 19U Boys and Girls age groups, as well as the US Youth Soccer National League qualifiers in the 14U through 18U Boys and Girls age groups to complete the field of 96 teams.
Highlights from Sunday:
A 2-0 win over Northern Steel Blue (PA-W) allowed Arlington 2006 Red (VA) to pass the PA West side and finish on top of Group C. Olivia Stafford found the back of the net in the ninth minute to give Arlington the early lead. Just four minutes later, Jocelyn Lohmeyer doubled the lead. She ran down a long ball and slipped it around the keeper before finishing into an open net. The Arlington defense shut down a previously potent Northern Steel attack, as it earned the shutout win. Despite the loss, Northern Steel also advances to the semifinals as the wildcard.
After tying in their matchup on the first day of play, Ukrainian National 2005 Black (PA-E) and Baltimore Celtic Elite (MD) entered Sunday neck and neck in Group A. Each side displayed strong efforts on both ends of the field, as Ukrainian National earned a 4-0 victory and Celtic came away with a 6-0 win. Thanks to a slight edge in its defensive performance — allowing just one goal in the three games — Ukrainian National finished on top of the group and earned a semifinal berth.
Each goal can make a difference, and that was no more evident than in Group A, where SJEB Rush 04 Academy (NJ) advanced following a 1-1 draw with Beadling Elite 2004 (PA-W) on Sunday. The New Jersey side fell behind in the 12th minute, as Tessa Dellarose hit home a bouncing ball following a corner kick. SJEB didn’t take long to respond, as it found an equalizer in the 22nd minute. Reilly Mcglinn gathered a low cross and slid her shot off the inside of the left post and into the net. Neither side managed to generate a game-winner in the remainder of the game, and goal differential allowed the New Jersey side to finish on top in a three-way tie in the group.
After picking up identical results in their first two matches, LMVSC Patriots Red (VA) and GPS NY Regional Team (NY-W) had everything to play for in Group A. After a scoreless first half, Ian Bowen found the back of the net in the 47th minute to put GPS in front. LMVSC immediately responded, and Adam Elkhasouani netted an equalizer to pull the teams completely level in the game and standings once again. LMVSC looked threatening in the late stages of the match, but GPS prevented any clean looks at goal, and the game finished tied at 1-1. In a tiebreaking series of kicks from the mark, each team made its first six attempts before the GPS keeper came up with a save. Jude Rouhana stepped up and sent his attempt into the right corner to put GPS through to the semifinals.
A couple of early goals in a winner-take-all match allowed FC Stars 2002 (MA) to defeat Pipeline Pre-Academy 02 (MD), 2-1, and advance to the semifinals for a second straight year. Aleia Gisolfi-McCready scored twice in the opening 20 minutes to give the Massachusetts side all the momentum and a 2-0 lead. Pipeline battled back and eventually pulled within a goal when Baylee DeSmit converted a penalty kick in the 69th minute. However, the FC Stars defense continued its strong play and didn’t allow Pipeline to level the score in the closing minutes — giving FC Stars the win it needed to finish on top of Group C.
A 2-0 win against Arlington 2001 Red (VA) allowed YMS Premier Celtic 01 (PA-E) to keep its place atop the Group D standings and advance to the semifinals. The Eastern PA side had its share of early pressure, and it managed to net a breakthrough goal in the 13th minute. YMS swung in a free kick from the left wing, and Nkosi Graham made a near post run — flashing in front of the keeper to head home the opening goal. Needing a win to advance, Arlington immediately responded with pressure and earned several dangerous set pieces during the remainder of the half. After the break, the Virginia side pushed players forward with each free kick, which made it vulnerable to counter attacks from YMS. Graham was sprung free on two breakaways — forcing Arlington keeper Angel Sanchez-Palomino into a great slide tackle on the first and drawing a red card on Arlington with the second. Later, Graham didn’t let a third break go to waste, as he rounded the keeper and slid home the sealing goal in the 90th minute.
National League champion Princeton SA (NJ) is continuing its success at the Eastern Regional Championships, as it earned a 3-1 win over SAC Showcase Premier (MD) to advance to the semifinals. Princeton opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when Meagan Ocallahan used a deft first touch to flick a bouncing ball around the keeper and into the far side netting. SAC countered with a goal from Oluwafisayo Iluyomade just before the halftime whistle to level the match heading into the second 45 minutes. Just after the restart, an own goal allowed Princeton to regain the lead, and Leanna Rebimbas added an insurance goal in the 67th minute to put the New Jersey side up, 3-1. That score line held, as Princeton won Group C and earned a place in the semifinals.
Loudoun Red (VA) was the lone 19U Boys team to win both of its games, as it picked up a big win on Sunday to head into the semifinals with plenty of momentum. The three-group division featured four teams with four points each. In a series of tiebreaking shootouts, Baltimore Celtic SC Christos (MD) and FC Montco Die Mannschaft (PA-E) finished as group winners, while Steel Town Magic 99 (PA-W) advances as the wildcard.