It was an impressive run by the teams from Illinois that advanced to the 2013 US Youth Soccer Midwest Regional Championships. Of the 20 teams that participated in the Region II tournament, 15 advanced to semifinals, 8 advance to the championship match for their age division and five; Raiders FC, NSA Rockets, NSA Jaguars, Team Chicago Botafogo and Chicago Fire Academy won a Regional title.
Raiders FC was dominate in the Under-13 Boys group play, scoring 12 goals while not allowing a single score. The shutout streak continued in the semifinal match against Michigan's Vardar, with the Raiders advance to the finals with a 3-0 win. Although they allowed their first goal of the tournament, the Raiders' offense was too much for Ohio's OP Eagles G1. The 4-1 win over the Eagles earned the Raider the Regional title.
The NSA Rockets got a shutout against Kings Hammer Academy Red in the U14 Girls championship match to move them forward to the US Youth Soccer Nationals. The match saw a scoreless first half, and then NSA came back stronger in the second, getting a goal in the 45th minute by Lauren Long. Simone Gardner stepped up as well, and became unstoppable, accomplishing a hat trick with three goals within ten minutes.
The Jaguars gave NSA their second Region II championship of the tournament with their 1-0 win in the Under-16 Girls Final. After a 3-0 run in group play, the Jaguars and Eclipse Elite meet in a rematch of the U16 Illinois State Cup finals in the Regional semifinal. NSA topped their Illinois rival 3-0 to advance to the Regional Championship. In the final, Abbie Boswell’s early 12 minute goal, and NSA’s sound defense, helped keep the shutout and earned the Jaguars the championship. Boswell finished the tournament with 6 goals, tops in the U16 Girls Division.
The Under-18 Girls final was an Illinois event with State Cup champions FC United meeting Team Chicago Academy Botafogo. Returning Regional Champions Team Chicago avenged their State Cup loss to FC United with a 2-1 win Although FC United got the first lead of the game, Team Chicago quickly recovered and scored twice before entering halftime. Their strong backline helped maintain the win, forbidding FC United from getting any more goals in in the second half. Despite the loss, FC United and Team Chicago could rematch again for a National Title. Team Chicago had already qualified for the US Youth Soccer National Championships based on their play in the US Youth Soccer National League so FC United will compete as the Region II representative.
Despite finishing second in group play, the Chicago Fire Academy advanced to the Under-19 Boys semifinals as the Wild Card. A 2-1 win over Kentucky's Javanon in the semis, set-up a rematch against NFC Blue who handed the Fire their only loss in group play. In the championship, the Fire kicked off the match with a goal in the 7th minute, and ended it with another (90th), avenging the previous loss and allowing them to hoist the Midwest Regional Championship trophy.
Two other Illinois teams advanced to the Regional finals, falling short in hard fought matches.
A goal in the 63rd minute was deciding factor in the Chicago Magic's loss in the Under-15 Boys Final to Michigan's Vardar.
In the Under-17 Girls championship, The Academy United ran into hometown favorite, Iowa City Alliance Heatwave. After a 1-1 end to regulation, the Heatwave score twice in overtime to earn the win and become the first team from Iowa to advance to the US Youth Soccer National Championships.
The five Regional Champions and FC United will be joined by Eclipse Black (U15G), Raiders FC (U18) and defending National Champions Galaxy SC Blue (U18B) who each qualified for the National Champions based on their success in the US Youth Soccer National League.
You can follow all the US Youth Soccer National Championships action here