After having advanced to the championship game in the State Cup the past two seasons before losing and watching the opposition celebrate an automatic bid to the Midwest Regional Cup, the Blast F.C. under-14 boys soccer team made the most of winning the State Cup this year.

After having advanced to the championship game in the State Cup the past two seasons before losing and watching the opposition celebrate an automatic bid to the Midwest Regional Cup, the Blast F.C. under-14 boys soccer team made the most of winning the State Cup this year.

In the 2008 Midwest Regional Cup beginning last Saturday at Sportscore Soccer Complex in Rockford, Ill., it won its pool and qualified to a regional semifinal against F.C. Milwaukee Blue last Tuesday.

Blast was 2-1 with six points in pool play, ahead of Missouri's Lou Fusz SC (1-1-1) Indiana's Carmel United Academy (1-1-1) and Nebraska's Gladiator 93/94 (1-2).

Blast opened play with a 4-0 win over Gladiator 93/94 last Saturday and then almost had nothing to show for it. The next day it lost to Carmel United Academy 2-1 despite what coach Lesh Shkreli thought was a better effort.

"We just came out very strong the first day, but we actually played much better the second day," he said. "We just didn't get as many opportunities."

The loss wasn't completely damaging because Carmel United had played Lou Fusz to a scoreless tie on the first day. That meant that if Blast could defeat Lou Fusz it could advance with a little bit of help, which it received when Gladiator 93/94 beat Carmel United 2-0 last Monday.

But without knowing that would happen, the players had to regroup, and it was their ability to forget about what happened in the second game that led to a strong performance last Monday.

"The bottom line is our boys worked extremely hard," Shkreli said. "They knew they had to come back and win to have a chance, and they did that. It was the team spirit really."

•It turned out for the Blast F.C. U-15 boys team that there was only one team it had to be concerned with, and that was the Cleveland Internationals, which it had faced in each of the last two regional tournaments.

Both times the winner of that game was the one to advance from the pool play to a regional semifinal. This year it was the Internationals, who beat the Blast 1-0 last Saturday.

Blast left little doubt in the rest of the games, defeating the Madison 56ers of Wisconsin 3-1 last Sunday and the South Dakota's Great Plains Quest 7-1 last Monday. The Blast finished 2-1 in pool play behind the Internationals (2-0-1) and ahead of the Madison 56ers (1-1-1) and the Great Plains Quest (0-3).

Last season Blast came out on top against the Internationals 2-1 before losing 2-0 to Lightning White of Illinois in a regional semifinal.

•The Blast F.C. U-17 girls team ran into an opponent that has had its number all season in its opener last Saturday, and the rough showing seemed to follow it through the rest pool play.

Three times Blast has faced Ohio Elite Academy and three times it has lost. Last Saturday it was 6-0. The last time Blast played Ohio Elite was in the final of the State Cup on May 17, a game Ohio Elite won 5-1. The teams also met April 25 in the regular season of the Midwest Regional League and Ohio Elite won that game 6-0.

Coach Mohamood Razack thinks it's a mental block more than anything.

"The first game was a team we played often, and it was the third time we've played them," Razack said. "It was just psychological."

Blast finished last in its pool at 0-3 behind Kansas' KCFC Impact (3-0), Missouri's St. Louis SC (1-1-1) and Ohio Elite (1-1-1).

In the other two games Blast gave up leads. In the 2-1 loss to St. Louis S.C. of Missouri, Blast led 1-0 and in the 3-2 loss to KCFC Impact of Kansas, Razack's team was ahead 2-0.

•The U-18 boys team dropped its first two games of pool play and then finished with a win after already being eliminated from advancing.

Blast fell to Nebraska's Arsenal Hibernian 1-0 last Saturday and then lost to Kentucky's Javanon S.C. 4-3 last Sunday. By that point both of the teams that had beaten Blast were 2-0 and they played each other last Monday to decide the winner, eventually tying at 2, but Javanon advanced because of total goals scored.

Blast defeated F.C. United of Illinois 1-0 to finish 1-2. Javanon S.C. and Arsenal Hibernian were 2-0-1 to finish ahead of Blast and United (0-3).