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2013 US Youth Soccer Region IV Championships kickoff with a bang

June 18, 2013 03:52 AM
Preliminary games day 1 of 3

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HONOLULU (June 17, 2013) – The 2013 US Youth Soccer Region IV Championships, presented by the National Guard, kicked off today at Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex in Honolulu.  State champions, US Youth Soccer Far West Regional League champions and select wildcards hoped to get off on the right foot on day one to advance to the knockout rounds.
The top 212 US Youth Soccer boys and girls teams from the 14 State Associations that make up US Youth Soccer Region IV compete for the regional title. States represented including host, Hawaii, are Alaska, Arizona, California North, California South, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Four champions from 2012 are back to defend their regional title – U-13 Boys Pateadores LA (CA-S), U-14 Boys United FC Gold 98 (CA-S), U-15 Boys Santa Barbara SC White (CA-S) and U-18 Boys Sereno 95 White (AZ).
Under-15 Boys Santa Barbara SC has won three Cal-South State Championships and two Region IV Championships in the past four years, but last year went on to claim the National Championship and want nothing more than to make it back to defend their national crown.  The team clawed their way to Nationals in 2012 by winning every game at the Regional Championships by a single goal, but they hope that toughness will carry them through again this year. 
"I think it speaks highly of this team," said Santa Barbara Head Coach Rudy Ybarra.  "People say that it’s one goal, but most of the time that means we kept the other team to zero.  I think the strength of this unit is that we read the game so well; we’re organized, we stay compact and we’re capable of scoring four or five, we’re so balanced.  We can get goals from an outside back, a forward, or a winger.  We try to attack from so many different places."
Facing a difficult group, Santa Barbara will need two more solid performances to advance this year after an opening day draw against Far West Regional League champion Manchester Academy (CA-S), 2-2.  Santa Barbara went ahead in the first half on a header from captain Tim Heiduk on an assist from Juan Pablo Alvarez.  In the second half, Manchester equalized with a nice move down field, but Santa Barbara responded within minutes when Benjamin Garcia played a beautiful cross from the right side that found Raul Guerrero at the far post to reassume the lead.  Santa Barbara had a chance to seal the game moments later, again on a strike from Heiduk, but a phenomenal save from the Manchester keeper kept the game within reach and Manchester capitalized with the tying goal from a late counter to earn the draw.
"I don’t think that was our best performance of the year, by far, but yet we didn’t lose.  This team has worked together and the majority have been together now for four or five years.  They seem to know what the other is thinking and they’re always playing like a unit.  Not many people can say they won three Cal-South State Championships and now we’re trying to win our third Regional Championship in that same four years.  I think it’s the consistency from them and they play as a team, they trust in themselves and they work together on offense, on defense and in transition. 
"It would mean a lot, obviously, to get back and defend our National title.  We were looking forward to the challenge ever since last year and we all talked about it.  The players don’t like to hear this, but we’ve got a target on our back.  People say, ‘Hey, we’re playing the National Champions.’  It’s great in a way because it’s respect, but at the same time that’s a target.  We know that, but I think these guys have a confidence in themselves, they believe in themselves and they do everything together.  It’s a really special group and I think they’re up to the task.  They’re going to do their best and we’re hoping to advance.  They believe they can do it."
Also looking to defend their National Championship this year is Under-16 Girls Legends FC (CA-S).  However, like last year, Legends have already qualified for the National Championships after gaining a berth through their finish in the US Youth Soccer National League.

Regional winners of the Under-13 through Under-19 age groups earn a berth to the 2013 US Youth Soccer National Championships July 22-28, at Overland Park Soccer Complex in Overland Park, Kan.

The US Youth Soccer National Championships will consist of US Youth Soccer Regional Champions in the Under-13 through Under-19 Boys and Girls age groups as well as the US Youth Soccer National League qualifiers in the Under-15 through Under-18 Boys and Girls age groups to complete the field of 88 teams. 

Daily reports and complete results from the tournament are available on Follow the moments from the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series on Twitter and share the moments with us on Facebook.