So close: Rundown of area teams who placed at Region 1 tourney
By Roger Gonzalez
Over the past three weeks The Soccer Wire has profiled the local clubs that were able to prove their worth and take home a U.S. Youth Soccer Region I championship crown earlier this month in Lancaster, Pa.
But even if they didn’t reach the highest spot in their division, several other local teams were able to put together very positive showings and advance deep into the tournament.
Maryland duo earn semifinal appearances
OBGC Rangers of Maryland were semifinalists in the Region I Under-16 bracket, storming through the group stage with a 3-0 record. The team received quality showings from all over the field, dominating the initial stage with a plus-five goal differential before falling to eventual champions Lehigh Valley United 95 (Pa.) 1-0 in the semifinals.
FC Frederick 94 of Maryland also made the semifinals for U-17 play by winning Pool A, before losing a heart-breaking semifinal match to NEFC Eagles (Ma.) in a penalty-kick shootout.
Older boys nearly take home titles
Both Vista RFC 93 of Virginia and Baltimore Bays Chelsea (Md.) did everything they could to win the tournament and earn a spot at nationals, though they both fell just short.
RFC 93’s squad went undefeated in U-18 group play and edged Penn Fusion Celtic (Pa.) 2-1 in the semifinals. Chad Craig finished second in overall goals scored with six, but his squad lost to dominant New Jersey side Marlton Lightning Red, whose star player Michael Ryan scored 13 of his team’s whopping 20 goals.
As for Bays Chelsea in the U-19 bracket, the team looked strong in the group stage, only to put on its best performance in the semifinals, winning 5-1 against the previously undefeated Hicksville Strikers (N.Y.).
The team could not keep it going, however, falling 1-0 in the final to Empire United SA Syracuse (N.Y.). Joseph Shinsky of the Bays finished joint-top scorer alongside four others.
Younger squads prove to be a tough out
West Virginia Chaos 99 made the semifinals in the U-12 bracket, while two Virginia squads made the final of the U-12 8v8 tournament. ASC Premier 99 and VYS Patriots Black both finished the group stage undefeated, while also allowing no goals. Each won their semifinal game 2-1 before ASC dominated the final to the tune of a 4-2 victory. Ya’Nique VanNess of ASC finished with six goals for the tournament.
Local teams make runs in U-15 play
PSC Baltimore and VSA Heat 96 Blue (Va.) both advanced deep into the tournament, but neither could put it together when it mattered most. Heat Blue fell 3-2 in the semifinals to CRUSA/FC Bucks Fury (Pa.), while PSC lost the final against the same team that knocked out the Virginians, losing 3-1.
Battle of the best sees Bethesda depart disappointed
It was the heavyweight fight in U-19 play: Bethesda SC Dragons of Maryland had won all four games to make the final, winning by scores 8-0, 9-0 and 8-0, before a 3-0 semifinal win over FC Stars (Ma.).
Their opponent for the final, Scorpions Elite (Ma.), were nearly as stellar, having run up 10-0, 5-0 and 7-1 results in the early going. A slim 3-2 win in the semis against Penn Fusion 92 (Pa.) appeared to render the New England squad underdogs, but Scorpions managed to upset Bethesda 2-1 in the final and garner a trip to nationals, which kick off tomorrow at the Manchester Meadows complex in Rock Hill, S.C.