Midwest Regional Cup
Crew Juniors U19 boys win regional title
After failing to advance from pool play in the Midwest Regional Cup last year, the Crew Juniors U19 boys soccer team looked to regain its championship form from 2010 when it competed in the tournament June 23-27 in Saginaw, Mich.
The Crew Juniors delivered their second regional title in three years, defeating Pacesetter Premier of Sylvania 3-1 in the title game on goals from Matt Walker, Jordan Tyler and Kofi Agyapong.
The team went 3-0 in pool play before beating FCGB New United from Wisconsin 3-0 in a semifinal.
The Crew Juniors opened pool play by defeating SDU Madrid from South Dakota 11-0 on June 23. They then defeated United 1996 FC 93 International from Kentucky 9-1 on June 24 and the Kansas City (Kan.) Rangers 3-2 on June 25.
The Crew Juniors trailed the Rangers 1-0 in the first half.
"We thought we had a pretty good squad put together and we had played well in the state cup semis (4-0 win over CUP Crew Juniors) and in the finals (2-0 win over Club Ohio Blast)," coach Brian Bliss said. "Most of these guys double up and play on our U20 team. We were getting some good results there as well leading up to it, so I thought we had a good chance, although you never take it for granted because we thought we had a good team last year and we didn't even get out of group play."
Last year in the Midwest Regional Cup, the Crew Juniors went 1-0-2 and finished second in its four-team pool with five points behind the Chicago Fire Juniors (2-1, 6).
"There was some rallying of the guys that you heard say, 'We can't have happen this year what happened last year,' " Bliss said. "The guys were certainly well aware that showing up and playing is not good enough. You have to actually play well."
As the lone area team to advance from the regional, the Crew Juniors also will be looking for their second national title in three years when they compete in the US Youth Soccer National Championships on July 25-29 at Manchester Meadows in Rock Hill, S.C.
The 60 qualifying teams play July 25-27 to determine who advances to the championship games July 28 and 29.
"I love it," said forward/midfielder Chris Davis, a 2011 Gahanna graduate. "I never thought I would go to nationals. I thought I was done after the U18. To win regionals with U19 and then go to nationals, I'm hyped about it."
Bliss expects the team to play at nationals without midfielder Wil Trapp, a 2011 Gahanna graduate who has a commitment with the U20 national team.
"We have to play better," Bliss said. "I thought we played well at the regional, but I think we have some work to do in terms of defending restarts. I think we struggled a little bit at the regional in Michigan when it came down to defending free kicks and restarts. We weren't maybe as good as I thought we were, so we have to be very good there. We have the ability to score some goals, but it's going to come down for us not giving up goals on restart plays."
OP Eagles boys just miss semifinal berth
The Ohio Premier Eagles U14 boys team just missed earning a qualifying berth to the regional semifinal round after finishing 2-1 in pool play. The team had six points, but the Chicago Magic Pre-Academy advanced with seven.
The Magic defeated the Eagles 1-0 to finish 2-0-1 in pool play.
The Eagles defeated Javanon from Kentucky 3-0 and Carmel United SC Elite from Indiana 2-0.
"We're disappointed not to go through, but we're happy with our performance at regionals," coach Mike Lawrence said. "We beat two really good teams. We were in the toughest group possible, so that made it a little challenging for us. We lost to last year's regional champs 1-0. To win two games at regional and have a chance to go through on the last day is always good."
The OP Elite U19 girls team finished 2-1 in pool play, defeating CL Force Elite from Illinois 3-2 and OFC Elite from Nebraska 5-1. The team lost 2-1 to FC Milwaukee, which advanced from pool play with a 3-0 record.
Blast FC boys team falls short
The Blast FC U18 boys team also just missed out on a qualifying berth to a semifinal. It tied Waza FC 94 Black from Michigan in pool play at 2-0-1, but Waza earned the berth on tiebreaker criteria.
The teams played to a scoreless tie.
The Blast defeated KSA Elite 93 from Kentucky 3-2 and Omaha FC Elite from Nebraska 3-0.
"It was very positive," coach Lesh Shkreli said. "Mostly everyone on this team is going to play in college. Everybody wants to come back as a team and train before they go to college. They were disappointed that they didn't go on, but they felt good because they felt they played well. There were a couple goals that should have gone our way and didn't happen, but they were happy because they competed and we dominated all three games, which is very good for them."
The Blast FC girls U17 team finished 0-2-1 in pool play, tying Omaha FC Elite at 0 and losing to KSA Gold 94 from Kentucky 1-0 and Team Chicago Academy Botafogo 3-2.
Classics Eagles fail to advance
Three teams from the Classics Eagles each finished 1-1-1 in pool play and failed to advance to the semifinal round.
The U17 boys team defeated Blue Valley SC from Kansas 2-1, tied WDMSC from Iowa at 2 and lost to the Raiders FC Premier from Illinois 3-2.
The U16 boys team defeated Team Evanston Premier from Illinois 5-4, tied SDU Barcelona from South Dakota at 0 and lost to the Michigan Jaguars 3-0.
The U15 boys team defeated Dynamo FC Red from Indiana 3-0, tied Blue Valley SC at 0 and lost to the Challenger Crew Juniors from Akron 1-0.