As the world's top soccer players battled in the World Cup in South Africa, athletes from throughout the Midwest staged an elite tournament of their own.

As the world's top soccer players battled in the World Cup in South Africa, athletes from throughout the Midwest staged an elite tournament of their own.

The Midwest Regional Cup was last Saturday through last Wednesday at Ankeney Park in Beavercreek and Athletes in Action Park in Xenia.

A total of 214 teams and approximately 4,000 athletes competed. The regional champion from the under-14 to 19 divisions advances to the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships on July 20-25 in Overland Park, Kan.

Three area teams advanced to last Tuesday's semifinals - the Crew Juniors Under-19 boys team, Ohio Premier Under-17 girls team and Blast F.C. Under-15 girls team. The title games were last Wednesday.

"This is regionals," O.P. Under-17 girls coach Chris King said. "There's only one event that supposedly has better competition than this, and that's nationals. There are teams all over the country that are all playing in their own regionals to try to get to nationals. For us to advance out of our group is obviously a huge accomplishment for us."

The Team Ohio F.C. Under-15 and 13 boys teams, O.P. Under-18 and 15 girls teams and O.P. Under-18 boys team failed to qualify for the semifinals.

The tournament again proved to be a valuable tool for collegiate coaches looking for future contributors to their programs. More than 200 collegiate coaches attended the tournament.

Upper Arlington High School junior Michela Paradiso is hoping to attract attention as she begins the process of selecting a college. Paradiso scored two winning goals over the weekend, helping the O.P. Under-17 girls team advance to the semifinals.

"I hope to play in college," Paradiso said. "I haven't committed anywhere yet. I hope to play at a big D-I school."

For O.P. Under-18 boys coach Frank Bucci, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind of soccer action. Bucci attended early-round games at the World Cup and then returned home to guide his area team.

"They have done a great job running this tournament," Bucci said. "There's some great competition here. The kids did really well. The kids had the spirit of the game in hand here."

Team Ohio Under-15 boys coach Costa Kalorides noted his team kept a close eye on the World Cup while also preparing for the Regional Cup.

"You hope the kids watch the games to see how people go about their business in different countries, but it is America where other sports rule," Kalorides said. "You never know what they're doing."