Friday, July 24, 2009
Every year tens of thousands of youth soccer players participate at their State Championships with one goal in mind . . . to represent their state at one of four regional championships that will lead them to competing in July at the US Youth Soccer National Championships Series and the possibility of being NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!
Unfortunately Wisconsin is not one of the national powerhouse states, like some of the larger states like Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California, but our teams generally hold their own at the regional level. It's been a couple of years since we've had a national finalist team, but we still enjoy attending the championship event and watching these amazing athletes compete at the highest levels.
Teams from across the United States came to Lancaster, Massachusetts this year in hopes of winning the Championships. Each of the four regions will send a boys and girls team at each of six age groups. Additional teams qualify through the US Youth Soccer Nat'l Leagues.
I spent an afternoon out at the fields during the group play. During this phase of the tournament, each of the teams play the other three in their age group bracket with the top two advancing for the championship match on Saturday or Sunday.
Because we had a lot of rain overnight, the tournament schedule had to be modified slightly to include moving games from grass fields to turf (artificial grass) . . . still located at the same complex.
A little about the complex. The Citizen Bank Fields at Progin Park are well kept and manicured fields. It was unfortunate to have the heavy rains, but the good news was that it wasn't sweltering in terms of heat, although the humidity has been high. It is a small complex, one that might surprise folks to be hosting a national level championship especially since there are no lighted fields and relatively limited seating provided for spectators (tri-level bleachers were at all fields in use for this event).
The complex does have a nice snack bar concession stand complete with bathrooms (vs. the "blue rooms" you see at so many parks and facilities). Parking was somewhat limited, but tournament organizers minimized the inconvenience of the downhill (or uphill for your return trip to your car) by provided golf cart shuttle service. HURRAY for that!
I watched the entire U15B game between Casa Mia Bays 94 (Baltimore, MD) and SCSA 92 Gold (Charlotte, NC). In the end it was a 1-0 win for the bracket leader Casa Mia. Attached to this story is a photo of the lone goal scored in the 9th minute of the game on a penalty kick. NOTE: For the soccer novice, U15B means "Under 15 (age) Boys". These kids were all 15 now (or within the next week) as the cutoff date for birthdays for this year’s event would have been 8/1/08.
NOTE: On Saturday, July 25th the U15B Casa Mia Bays 94's won the National Championships and in doing so, accomplished the "double" as they had earlier this summer won the US Youth Soccer National League for their age group.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Today I caught the last of the U18 girls championship match of Ohio Elite (OH/S) vs. FC Bucks (E/PA). While Ohio South held tough after an early second half goal by PA/E's team, that was enough for FC Bucks to get by them. (See photo of the great save late in the game, made by the Ohio keeper.)
The second game that I watched was the U19B and another Casa Mia Bays team from Baltimore. Their opponent was NASA 08 Elite of Georgia, the top team in the USA as of the 7/24/09 rankings. At this age group, many of the players are already playing college level soccer and in this particular game most were playing at D1 schools.
It was a very exciting game, with the Baltimore team winning their second National Championship this year for their club. With a goal in each of the halves, the game seemed much closer than the final 2-0 score.
For those who may actually be interested in youth soccer and the US Youth Soccer National Championships, check out the championships’ page at: http://championships.usyouthsoccer.org/index.asp.