ROCK HILL, S.C. (July 25, 2012) - Games kicked off early this morning for the 2012 US Youth Soccer National Championships, presented by the National Guard, at Manchester Meadows in Rock Hill, S.C. Excitement filled the air as teams made their first push to earn one of 12 national titles to be awarded this weekend. More than 6,000 spectators were on hand to witness the field of 60 teams, comprised of the nation’s top players in the Under-14 through Under-19 age groups for boys and girls.
The National Guard's partnership with US Youth Soccer is focused on enriching the soccer experience by positively influencing players and coaches in areas of leadership and character development while adding a strong presence of American pride.
Teams are seeking a positive result through round robin play which concludes Friday. Three points are awarded for a win, one point for a tie and zero points for a loss. The top two teams in each age group will advance to play for the national championship this weekend.
Stories, photos and videos are available following games. Real time scoring is available at http://championships.usyouthsoccer.org.
The event is estimated to bring more than $4 million to the local economy. In addition to the impact locally, the championships provide college coaches a premier stage to evaluate future collegiate players, offering a tremendous impact to players and their families.
A few highlights from today’s matches…
It was a matchup of sound defensive teams when Beach FC (CA-S) and MSC Coyotes Green (MD) took the field on day one of U-14 Girls play. After giving up not a single goal en route to the Region I title, MSC Coyotes continued its shutout streak Wednesday. However, they ran up against another defensive stalwart in Beach FC. Neither team was able to break through, and the game ended in a 0-0 draw.
The first half belonged to Ambassadors FC (OH-N) when they faced off against TNFC Azurri (TN). In just the first minute of the game, Alexandra Wright put Ambassadors in front, and Sarah Krause doubled the lead with a strike in the 28th. If the first half belonged to Ambassadors, the second belonged to TNFC who battled back thanks to a Karlie Paschall brace to draw level and secure a point in the 2-2 draw.
VSA Heat (VA) claimed a critical day one victory over Region IV champ and National League rep Legends Breakaway (CA-S). James Madison commit Meghan Cox started the scoring in the 16th minute with a strike for VSA. With Legends Breakaway seeking an equalizer, Christina Corbin put the game out of reach, scoring for VSA in the 80th minute.
Team Chicago Academy Botago (IL) continued its balance attack en route to a 2-0 victory on day one over Central Valley Chillipeppers (CA-N). Kentucky commit Zoe Swift, who was the leading scorer in the Region II Championships, started the scoring in the 15th minute. Gianna Dal Pozzo added an insurance goal in the 58th for Team Chicago.
Legends FC (CA-S) earned a positive result over CESA (SC) in the third U-17 Girls game on the day. Legends entered halftime up 1-0 on a Kendra Reif strike in the 42nd minute. Fifteen minutes into the second half, South Carolina commit Chelsea Drennan brought CESA level. Legends would score twice in the final 10 minutes of play to steal the victory and three points.
Brentwood Premier (TN) has waited years to arrive at the national championships and made the most of its first appearance with a 3-1 victory over Cincinnati Soccer Alliance Elite (OH-S). Arkansas commit Lindsey Mayo scored the game winning goal in overtime of the regional final to send her team to nationals and continued her scoring ways today, scoring in the 24th and 59thminutes. Carly Bowen, headed to TCU in the fall, also added a first half goal for Brentwood. Laura Rose netted a goal for CSA two minutes before the final whistle to complete the scoring.
Twice FC Penn Strikers (E-PA) fell behind by a goal to La Roca (UT). Twice FC Penn battled back to equalize, then went on to claim a 4-2 victory. Stacy Blair gave La Roca the lead in the 4th minute, before Gabriella Carbone leveled for FC Penn Strikers three minutes later. Blair would strike again in the 23rd, but Duke commit Cassie Pecht netted the equalizer just before half. Carbone and Pecht each added a second half goal to secure the win.
Sunrise Elite 97/98 (FL) fought back from an early 1-0 deficit to overtake Bethesda Lions (MD) and earn three points with a 3-1 win. Raphael Zoccolaro grabbed a quick lead for Bethesda in the 6th minute, but Sunrise equalized and quickly assumed the lead with goals from Frederick Gil in the 31st and Emmanuel Perez two minutes later. Jacobo Escobar gave Sunrise a cushion with a 67th minute goal to lead the Dallas Cup and Region III champs to a day one victory.
The other half of the U-14 division was a mirror image as Santa Barbara SC White (CA-S) came back from a goal down to defeat Vardar 98 (MI) 3-1. Evan Dennis scored first for Vardar in the 39th minute before Santa Barbara responded with a flurry of second half goals within nine minutes of each other. Chairat Puengrod leveled for Santa Barbara in the 55th and Brandon Sanchez quickly turned the game around with a second five minutes later for the lead. Benjamin Garcia added the insurance goal four minutes after Santa Barbara took the lead to finish the scoring and get Santa Barbara out of the blocks.
Eastside FC 94 Red (WA) are looking to reach the National final after finishing in a four-way tie for first place last year and losing out on tiebreakers. They’re off to a good start in 2012 after a 4-1 victory over Solar Chelsea 95 (N-TX). University of Washington commit Beau Blanchard struck first just 13 minutes in for Eastside and Jordan Thompson notched the first of his brace in the 24th for a 2-0 lead. Solar pulled one back two minutes later through Casey Eaton, but second half goals from Alex Censullo and Thompson put Eastside back in command in an opening day win.
Sereno 95 White (AZ) defeated every finalist from the past three years at the Region IV Championships to finally earn their ticket to Nationals in 2012, while Beadling SC 94/95 claimed their second straight Region I Championship to return. However, the two could not be separated in a defensive stalemate that ended 0-0 to open their quest to make the final match.
National League competitors Galaxy 94/95 Blue (IL) and Raiders FC Premier (IL) have competed against each other for nearly every trophy, including a penalty kick win for Galaxy in the Illinois state final and a Raiders victory for the Midwest Regional League championship. That familiarity resulted in a 0-0 draw to open the National Championships as both teams willed their way to goal but neither conceding to share the points.
Defending champions Grand Rapids Crew Jrs (MI) finally captured their first National title in 2011, and picked up where they left off with a 2-1 victory over Players SC 94 (NV) in the Crew’s fifth straight National Championships appearance today. Players assumed the early lead in the 8th minute on a Ruben Duran (Cal Poly) strike, but last year’s Golden Ball winner Sean Conerty (Michigan State) leveled just eight minutes later for Grand Rapids and Nate Rose (Oakland) hit for the game winner in the 53rd. Having captured their second National League title this past season, Grand Rapids now look to finish off their run with the National Championship in the same year.
National League side and two-time Region III champion Florida Rush Nike are looking for their first National Championship final this week after a 3-1 win over Marlton Lighting Red (NJ). A Marlton own goal in the 10th minute put Rush in the lead, but Greg Biggiani (Lafayette) pulled the goal back in the 26th as the two headed to the break knotted a 1-1. Jeremias Sanchez struck the eventual game winner for Rush in the 64th and Zachary Reynolds (West Florida) added another in stoppage time to lead Rush to the victory.