US Youth Soccer Region III Championships kick off in North Little Rock, Ark.
Preliminary Games, Day 1 of 3
Scores and Standings
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Via US Youth Soccer) — Nearly 200 teams, including six defending regional champions, kicked off the 2015 US Youth Soccer Region III (South) Championships Friday at the Burns Park Soccer Complex in North Little Rock, Ark., in addition to various locations throughout the area.
Teams from all over the southern United States took the field with the goal of taking the next step toward claiming the coveted US Youth Soccer National Championship in their respective age group.
Many sides came away with crucial opening victories to begin group play, including Under-14 Boys Tampa Bay United (FL), the 2014 Region III finalist. Tampa Bay coach Alex Delgado said an opening win was the team’s No. 1 goal, as it aims to focus on taking the tournament one day at a time.
“This is the best competition in the country. We know every game will be a final-type atmosphere,” Delgado said. “We have to come out here with the mentality that we’re only as good as our last game. This game is done, sotomorrow is now the most important game.”
The opening day of play showcased the difficulty of each game, as multiple defending Region III Champions dropped points, including defending National Champions United FA 00 (GA), who tied their opening match.
Each of the teams competing in Arkansas are aiming to experience what United FA achieved last year in winning the National title. But they each know they must first rise to the top at the Region III Championships, and that’s no easy feat.
“For this group that’s been together for four years, this is the year they’ve been waiting for the most,” Delgado said. “Especially after last year when we lost in the Region III final, I know they want to get back and have an opportunity to represent Florida and our club, Tampa Bay United. I know they’re excited, and hopefully we can continue to keep things rolling and have a great experience.”
Some highlights from Friday…
Local side AR United 99 (AR) started off on the right foot with a 3-1 win over TFCA Alliance (NC) in Under-16 Girls action. United’s Elizabeth Kimbrell opened the scoring in the 20th minute, and Caroline Campbell used her speed to beat the defense and slide home a second goal just two minutes later. After Ellis Fitzhugh pulled TFCA within a goal with a 45th-minute strike, Kimbrell responded immediately with a well-placed shot inside the left post to reestablish the two-goal lead and help her side to a 3-1 win.
AR United coach Hewlett Huggins said it’s great to start with a win in front of a home crowd, and he knows his team will need to stay focused for each match if it wants to become Arkansas’ first Region III Champion.
“We’re going to need a better performance they we got today. This is a good start. The plan is to get better each day,” Huggins said. “In the past, Arkansas teams would get a draw and be worried. Now, I look at it and think we can win each game. It wasn’t always like that. The state of Arkansas is improving, and some of the bigger states have to avoid taking Arkansas too lightly.”
Under-15 Boys South Carolina United FC 99 Elite (SC) kept its momentum going from an impressive National League campaign to post a 3-0 win over BUSA 00 Elite (AL) on Friday. Collin Harris put South Carolina in front in the opening minutes and an own goal doubled the lead shortly after. BUSA settled in and tried to cut into the deficit, but the South Carolina defense stood strong. David DeVaro added a late insurance goal, as South Carolina recorded the shutout victory.
An exciting 4-2 win over AHFC 97 (TX-S) put 97 Louisiana Fire Navy (LA), a finalist last year after taking the Region III crown in 2013, on the right track in Under-18 Girls group play. Mia Dubroc and Eleanor Pratt put Louisiana up 2-0 in the opening six minutes before Madison Chilton pulled AHFC back within one with a 23rd-minute goal. The Fire quickly extended its lead back to two goals with a Noelle Higginson tally, and Alexandra Thomas made it 4-1 midway through the second half. Emily Halal added a late goal for AHFC, but the Fire held on for the 4-2 victory.
In Under-19 Boys play, 95 HFC Red (NC) held on for a 3-1 win against MS Rush 96 Premier (MS). HFC jumped in front in the 17th minute on an Alexander Lewis strike. The lead didn’t last long, as John Rimmer equalized for the Mississippi side in the 29th minute. Joshua Pruett found the back of the net in the late stages of the first half to put HFC on top at the break. MS Rush pushed for an equalizer, but Corban Crosley netted an insurance goal for the North Carolina side, as HFC claimed the 3-1 victory.
A second-half offensive surge helped Tennessee SC 18 (TN) kick off its week with a 5-1 victory over Mighty Bluebirds Purple (AR) in Under-15 Girls action. Tennessee fell behind early when the Bluebirds’ Emily Leding scored in the opening 10 minutes, but Lindsey Breskow leveled the score shortly before halftime after an even opening 40 minutes. The second half was a different story, as Tennessee received two goals from Gentry Davis, a second tally by Breskow and a late insurance goal from Kay Tyner to pull away for the 5-1 win.
In a rematch of the 2014 Dallas Cup semifinal, Under-14 Boys Tampa Bay United (FL) earned an impressive 4-0 win against TSC Hurricane 01 Carreno (OK) on Friday. Tampa came out firing and took a 10th-minute lead on Joshua Colledge’s strike. Philip Spengler scored on either side of halftime to help extend Tampa’s lead to 3-0, and Alejandro Rodriguez added a tally in the 60th minute to cap the win.
“This TSC team, we played them in the Dallas Cup semifinals last year. They knocked us out,” Tampa Bay coach Alex Delgado said. “I think the boys had a little extra incentive to come out and have a good performance. It was definitely critical to come out and get a good result.”
The 2015 US Youth Soccer Region III Championships feature 196 of the top boys and girls teams from the 12 State Associations that make up US Youth Soccer Region III, with each squad competing for the 2015 regional title. Preliminary games will be held June 19-21, with quarterfinals, semifinals and finals taking place June 22-25. Most games will be played at the Burns Park Soccer Complex in North Little Rock, Ark.
Regional winners of the Under-13 through Under-19 age groups earn a berth to the 2015 US Youth Soccer National Championships, which will be played July 21-26 at the Mohawk Soccer Complex in Tulsa, Okla.
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-14 through Under-18 Boys and Girls age groups to complete the field of 96 teams.