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PHOENIX, Ariz., (June 23, 2012)
– Winners were crowned 2012 US Youth Soccer Region IV Champions today and the Under-14 through Under-19 champions have earned a berth to the US Youth Soccer National Championships, presented by the National Guard, July 23-29 in Rock Hill, S.C., at Manchester Meadows.
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.
West Coast FC of Southern California played for three titles today, winning two, and the Under-13 Girls were victorious on penalty kicks versus Downtown LVSC 99 Gold (NV).
"Obviously, the competition was great," said West Coast Head Coach Doug Swanson. "It’s the grandeur of the event, if you want, with all the setup and the attention. It’s a huge thing for (the players) to adjust to. Being away from home for a week, away from the comfort of their bed, having a set schedule and just having the discipline of being prepared in every way and to compete in big, meaningful games is huge soccer-wise, but huge for their character as well."
The Under-17 Boys champion, Sereno 95 White (AZ), earned their title as they defeated Eastside FC 94 Red (WA), Boise Nationals Premier (ID) and today Mt. Hamilton PAC Tigres (CA-N), the only teams to reach the final in the past two years, en route to the crown.
"It’s a great feeling to come out on top of an event like this, today’s game was very hard fought. Tigres are a good team and they beat us pretty soundly at the beginning of the year, so today the guys had to work really hard and they did," said Sereno 95 coach Brian O’Donnell. "I think playing in the Regional Championships helps with their focus. They have to understand that each and every game is of significance when you get to this point and there are no easy games, no easy minute in any game, and the kids really have to stay focused and keep their concentration. I think that’s a big lesson for them to learn as they go onto college."
Defending National Champion Fullerton Rangers 96 White (CA-S) repeated as the Under-15 Boys champion today, and the team is anxious to get back to the National Championships to compete for another title.
"I’m speechless to think that we’re going to another National Championship," said Rangers Director of Coaching Jimmy Obleda. "I think it’s the whole experience. The US Youth Soccer National Championship is the pinnacle, that’s what everybody wants to win. When we went last year, everything from the whole experience, to the luncheon, to the games, to the press, to the coaches and U.S. National Team staff, just the whole environment you can’t put words to it. And again, you’re playing for a national championship, to be the best in the country."
2012 US Youth Soccer Region IV Champions
U-12: Sparta United 99 Premier (UT)
U-13: West Coast FC (CA-S)
U-14: Beach FC 97 (CA-S)
U-15: MVLA Mercury Black (CA-N)
U-16: MVLA Lightning (CA-N)
U-17: Legends Breakaway (CA-S)
U-18: LaRoca PT (UT)
U-19: So Cal Blues Dodge (CA-S)
U-12: Pateadores LA (CA-S)
U-13: United FC Gold 98 (CA-S)
U-14: Santa Barbara SC White (CA-S)
U-15: Fullerton Rangers 96 White (CA-S)
U-16: Arsenal FC Lucey (CA-S)
U-17: Sereno 95 White (AZ)
U-18: Players SC 94 (NV)
U-19: West Coast FC (CA-S)
Notes from today’s matches…
So Cal Blues Dodge (CA-S) returned for their final year together to capture their second Region IV title and make their fourth trip to the National Championships. Blues were national finalists in 2008 after qualifying through the National League, won the 2009 Region IV Championship and then claimed the national title in 2010 as a National League representative. Today, Blue upended Pride Predators 93 (CO) quest to capture the club’s first Region IV crown 3-1. Autumn Altamirano carried Blues with a hatrick, setting the tone with a 4th minute goal. Altamirano doubled the lead in the 36th, but Pride pulled back in with a 75th minute goal from Carly Bolyard. With Pride chasing the game, Altamirano booked Blues’ trip to South Carolina with her third five minutes from time.
Two-time National League competitor LaRoca PT (UT) overcame an early one goal deficit to Far West Regional League champ Beach FC 93 Arrache (CA-S) to claim the U-18 Girls championship 2-1. Tina Yeghiayan gave Beach the lead just five minutes into the match, but Stacy Bair equalized for LaRoca for a 1-1 game at halftime. LaRoca went ahead for good just two minutes after the restart thanks to Mackenzie Harrison and the defense held on for the title.
Legends Breakaway (CA-S) will play for the treble in South Carolina as National League champions and now Region IV champions, holding off Central Valley Chilipeppers (CA-N) 1-0. Due to Breakaway representing the National League next month, Chilipeppers will advance to the National Championships from Region IV. Nicolette Martino stepped up for Breakaway to score the game winning goal two minutes into the second half and the defense completed their second straight shutout.
Far West Regional League champ MVLA Lightning (CA-N) is back in the National Championships after claiming the Under-14 crown in 2010, prevailing over Sereno 96 White North (AZ) in penalty kicks after a scoreless regulation and two overtime periods. MVLA is no stranger to championship shootout victories, as they knocked off Sting 96 (N-TX) for the national title in 2010 from penalty kicks after a 0-0 game.
MVLA Mercury Black (CA-N) overcame all odds to give the club two titles on the day. Mercury qualified for the Region IV Championships as the Cal-North wildcard and finished second in Pool C to move onto the quarterfinals, but reeled off three shutouts in the knockout rounds to advance to Nationals. Pride Predators 97 (CO) also had a chance to take home the club’s first Regional title, but Mercury’s Erica Higa netted in the 11th minute and the MVLA defense continued their streak without conceding to claim Region IV.
Also carrying the flag for solid defense was Beach FC 97 (CA-S), Far West Regional League champions, as they gave up just one goal in their run to the U-14 Girls Region IV Championship. Savannah DeMelo scored the lone goal of the game for Beach in just the 4th minute, and the Beach backline improved their shutout streak to five games.
A defensive stalemate for most of the game turned into late drama in overtime as West Coast FC (CA-S) took the championship after a shootout victory over Downtown LVSC 99 Gold (NV) in the U-13 Girls. Kimberly Flores gave West Coast the lead in the second overtime period, but Jadyn Nogues leveled for Downtown a minute later to send the game to penalty kicks, where West Coast prevailed 4-3.
Two teams from the state of Utah scathed regional competition for a rematch of the Utah State Championship game and Sparta United 99 Premier avenged their loss in that game by defeating La Roca Premier PO 1-0. Brecken Mozingo scored the game winner for Sparta and the defense did the rest for their third straight 1-0 victory.
West Coast FC (CA-S) will make their third trip to the National Championships looking to win the ultimate title in their last year of youth soccer after they defeated Sereno 93 White (AZ) 2-0. West Coast made their first trip to Nationals as U-14’s in 2007, falling to the Baltimore Bays (MD) in the title game, and returned in 2010 but missed out on the championship game. Juan Mendoza scored the match winner seven minutes into the second half and Cameron Iwasa gave West Coast some security with a 76th minute strike to lead WCFC to South Carolina.
Players SC 94 (NV) have been knocking on the door of a Region IV Championship for years, but things finally fell into place in 2012 as Players avenged an opening day loss to Westside Metros Premier (OR) in the final to win the state of Nevada its first ever Region IV title. One goal is all it would take and Eric Guzman stepped up to deliver in the 67th minute as Westside failed to breakdown Players’ defense.
Following a seven goal win on opening day, Far West Regional League representative Sereno 95 White (AZ) pulled off five straight one-goal victories en route to a Region IV Championship, which included three wins over each finalist from the past two years; Eastside FC (WA), Boise Nationals (ID) and today Mt. Hamilton PAC Tigres (CA-N) in a shootout. Sereno took the lead versus Tigres with a 51st minute goal from Luis Manta, but Tigres leveled three minutes later through Lorenzo Vazquez. Riding the momentum of a loud hometown crowd, Sereno again took the lead five minutes into overtime from Sergio Rizo, but once again Tigres pulled it back from Edwin Luna five minutes later. Sereno would not be denied however as they converted all four penalties while Tigres could only convert one to send Sereno onto Nationals.
Arsenal FC Lucey (CA-S) will shoot for the club’s fifth National Championship after they avenged a state finals loss against West Coast FC (CA-S) in the Regional final. West Coast took the early momentum when Nathan Chow struck in the 7th minute, but Arsenal stepped up five minutes later through Brayan Vargas to even the score. Arsenal assumed the lead midway through the second half on a goal from Carlos Chagolla and held onto the lead as time expired.
Fullerton Rangers 96 White (CA-S) continue to set the pace in the U-15 Boys as they have captured back-to-back Dallas Cup and Region IV championships on their way to defend their 2011 National title. Washington Premier FC 96 Black came back from an opening day loss to Rangers with an idea of how to stop the title holders in the final, but Robert Coronado’s first time strike from 22 yards out in the 35th minute would not be denied. Goalkeeper Keith Murphy and the Rangers defense let up one goal in six games heading back to the national stage.
Santa Barbara SC White won their second Regional crown in three years and will make their first appearance at the National Championships after defeating Juventus Heat (CA-N) in the U-14 final. Santa Barbara won all six games in the week by one goal, including five by a 1-0 score line. Brandon Sanchez propelled his team with a goal in the 25th minute as the Californians have proven to be a determined side heading to South Carolina.
Banat 99 Gold (AZ) was the only team to score on United FC Gold 98 (CA-S) heading into the final game, as the two tied 1-1 in pool play. However, United would revert back to their stingy ways as they turned in a 2-0 victory over Banat for the championship. Marc Bermudez netted the winning goal in the 18th minute and Kalani Cummins secured the win with a strike ten minutes later as the defense held strong once again.
Los Angeles area squads Pateadores LA and LA Galaxy Academy can’t seem to avoid each other as they met in the Cal-South state final, Regional Championship pool play and now again in the Regional title game. Galaxy came out on top in the state championship, however Pateadores earned their second victory over their rivals this week after a penalty shootout. The game ended 1-1 after Isacc Soria grabbed the lead for Pats in the 6th minute and Sergio Flores leveled for Galaxy in the 60th, but Pats would take the trophy with a 3-2 score in penalties. In a fantastic display of development and sportsmanship, the two sides met at half-field after the game for a group cheer and sign of respect for their opponent.
The US Youth Soccer National Championships will consist of US Youth Soccer Regional Champions in the Under-14 through Under-19 Boys and Girls age groups as well as the US Youth Soccer National League qualifiers in the Under-15 through Under-17 Boys and Girls age groups to complete the field of 60 teams.
Daily reports and complete results from the tournament are available on http://championships.usyouthsoccer.org
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About the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series – The US Youth Soccer National Championship Series provides more than 10,000 teams from US Youth Soccer's 55 State Associations the opportunity to showcase their abilities against the best in the nation while emphasizing teamwork, discipline and fair play. The yearlong competition begins with over 185,000 players in the US Youth Soccer State Championships. These champions and selected wildcard teams, through US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues, advance to compete in one of four the US Youth Soccer Regional Championships. Champions (U-14 through U-19) from each regional event advance to the US Youth Soccer National Championships. The Under-15 through 17 Boys and Girls age groups have two teams representative of the US Youth Soccer National League, in which the top two teams in each gender age group earn a direct path to the national championships. Overall the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series provides the nation's top collegiate coaches with the premier stage to identify and scout the most coveted players in the country.
About the United States Youth Soccer Association (US Youth Soccer) – US Youth Soccer - "The Game for ALL Kids!®" is the largest youth sports organization in the country and largest member of the United States Soccer Federation, the governing body of soccer in the United States. US Youth Soccer registers more than 3 million players annually, ages 5 to 19, and over 900,000 administrators, coaches and volunteers in 55 member State Associations. US Youth Soccer programs provide a fun, safe and healthy environment for players at every level of the game. For more information, visit www.USYouthSoccer.org