Germantown, Md. – Seven days of exciting soccer came to a fitting end today as the U.S. Youth Soccer Championships concluded at the Maryland SoccerPlex with 10 more Championships decided.
It was a near sweep on the Girls side for California, with three of the Sunday’s champions coming from the Golden State.
California clubs also came out on top in Saturday’s U13 Girls Final on Saturday, with Surf Academy taking the youngest age group.
Sunday’s action kicked off on fields wet down by overnight rain that threatened to return throughout the day, but thankfully never did.
The Virginia based VSA Heat had secured the U19 Girls national title on this same field on Saturday night, and like the previous evening the Heat drew a raucous group of supporters on Sunday.
To their credit the Californians represented well in spite of being so far from home, making quite a racket on behalf of their team.
For much of this match a scoreless draw and overtime seemed almost inevitable. It wasn’t that the teams weren’t trying to attack, it was just that they seemed so evenly matched.
Finally a goal came, and it came for the Sharks in the second half. Hannah Keogh scored on a mighty header from a corner kick, and that score sparked this game to life.
With the Virginians pressing for the equalizer the Sharks maintained their composure, led by stellar defensive work from central defense pairing Hailey Harbison and Samantha Staab. Both stood out defensively and Staab wowed when she unleashed a couple of tremendous kicks with her thunderous left foot.
With the Heat growing desperate as the clock ticked down and their championship hopes ebbed, goalkeeper Michelle Micciche pushed forward to aid in the attack, stepping across the midfield stripe to launch a free kick.
When Micciche stayed upfield, she was almost caught out when a long range Sharks potshot carried wide with the Heat keeper at least 40 yards from goal.
In the end it didn’t matter as the Sharks hung on for the win.
Then it was the boys turn and despite both teams coming in off of overtime games, Manhattan PSG and FC Dallas Youth did not disappoint.
With a good crowd on hand to see the final match of the USYS championships to be held at the stadium, the New Yorkers started strong, despite having needed penalty kicks just a day before to get to this final.
Manhattan’s Jack Harrison missed a good early chance, but he would rebound to give a Man of the Match quality performance.
There wasn’t much between these sides in a hotly contested first half that saw PSG perhaps shade the play. FC Dallas got a boost when substitute Reece Schattle entered late in the first half and began combining well with Sergio Lara.
When Schattle was forced to leave the match after a nasty collision with PSG’s stylish and effective keeper Gerardo Amigon early in the half, it didn’t do FCD’s chances any good.
Manhattan also lost a good performer when Daniel O’Grady left with a head injury, and did not return. Hopefully both of these young men will be back on the fields at 100% soon.
Like the girls game, overtime was beginning to look unavoidable as this game continued without a goal. Finally the ice was broken when Manhattan’s big man in the middle, center back Sean Fitzpatrick, outjumped the Dallas defense and headed home for the eventual National Championship winner.
Manhattan’s goal came from a corner kick won by the indefatigable Harrison, just one reason Harrison gets the unofficial GotSoccer Man of the Match award.
Congratulations to all of the national champions, and to all of the participants who made the 2014 US Youth Soccer National Championships such a success.
U14 Boys- United FA Elite (Ga.) 4-0 vs Real Colorado.
U14 Girls – NEFC Elite (Ma.) 2-0 vs Legends FC (Ca.-S)
U15 Boys – Pataedores San Diego (Ca.-S) 5-1 vs United FC Gold (Ca.-S)
U15 Girls – Jacksonville FC Elite (FL) 1-0 vs YMS Xplosion (Pa.-E)
U16 Boys – Baltimore Celtic (Md.) 2-1 PKs vs OP Eagles (Oh.)
U16 Girls – Beach FC Academy (Ca.-S) 1-0 vs Tampa Bay United (FL)
U17 Boys – Manhattan PSG (NY-E) 1-0 vs FC Dallas Youth (Tx-N)
U17 Girls – DMVC Sharks Elite (Ca.-S) 1-0 vs VSA Heat (Va.)
U18 – Boys Santa Barbara FC (Ca.-S) 3-0 vs Lehigh Valley United (Pa-E)
U18 Girls – Beach Fc Ingrassia (Ca-S) 2-0 vs Cleveland United (Oh-N)