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Phoenix, Ariz. (July 30, 2011) – Electricity filled the air as four of 12 US Youth Soccer National Champions were crowned under the lights at the Reach 11 Sports Complex, in Phoenix, Ariz. Top teams from around the country had converged on Phoenix based on the team's success to determine who would be champion in the annual US Youth Soccer National Championship Series.
The Series (State, Regional and National Championships) began with more than 10,000 teams. These teams have been pared down to the 60 national qualifiers in Phoenix following the US Youth Soccer State and Regional Championship competitions. This weekend, the final 24 teams remain to play for the 12 US Youth Soccer National Championship titles, first awarded in 1935.
The Series pits the top teams against each other to test their ability and every team in the field deserves their shot at the title based on the success of the team.
Tonight, frenzied fans roared for their respective sides as dreams were realized in four highly contested tilts in the Under-14 and Under-15 finals.
Tomorrow morning the Under-16, through Under-19 Boys and Girls championship matches will take place at Reach 11 Sports Complex with games scheduled from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.
Brief recaps from tonight's contests…
Under-14 Girls - Sting 97 v Eclipse Select, 2-0
Sting 97 (N-TX) and Eclipse Select (IL) played in front of passionate fans to determine who would lift the Elmer Ehlers Cup as national champions. Sting fans had something to cheer for when Chelsea Surpris found the net in the 31st minute, claiming a 1-0 lead. With Eclipse beginning to commit more numbers forward looking for an equalizer, Sting's Catherine Gasper finished a corner kick to double her team's lead and claim the national championship.
"We go to many tournaments as invitation, and this one you have to earn your place; you have to earn this," Sting head coach Kioumars Rezaie said. "And this national level is not anything easy. US Youth Soccer has definitely done a great job of providing a great tournament and we're playing against the best teams in the nation. It took four years of hard work for these ladies, and it's incredible the way they have performed. They wanted to do what it takes to become the best in the nation. So we're going to enjoy this moment."
The championship Saturday night is the tenth title for Sting, a club that won the first girl's National Championship in 1980. Sting will look to add to this tally when the Under-16 girls take the field in the championship final Sunday against Hurricane FC (OK).
Under-15 Girls - PDA Slammers v SAC United Premier, 2-1
For the third time this month, PDA Slammers (NJ) faced SAC United (MD), this time to determine the Under-15 Girls US Youth Soccer National Champion. PDA would again find victory, the third consecutive, and walk away with the national title.
"We're excited because of obviously winning the championship, but it's also the end product of a lot of hard work," PDA head coach Mike O'Neill said. "You want to play against the best teams that you possibly can. Winning state cup, then winning Regionals, then coming here and being the last team standing is a major accomplishment. Of all the teams in the country, only one goes home happy. We're thankful that it's us."
PDA opened the scoring in the 35th minute, when Julianne Minutillo collected a cross in the box and Lauren Jankowski buried the ball in the back of the net. Lauren dimes double the lead just two minutes after halftime. When SAC United needed a goal, Margaret Purce came through in the 73rd minute, scoring her tournament-leading sixth goal. PDA was able to hold off every other SAC United attack to secure the 2-1 victory.
Under-14 Boys - Fullerton Rangers vs Chicago Magic, 1-0
The Under-14 Boys Fullerton Rangers (CA-S) put a fitting end to a memorable season tonight as they captured the national championship with a 1-0 victory over Chicago Magic (IL). Fullerton, who also lifted the esteemed Dallas Cup this season, defeated Magic by the same score in yesterday's preliminary game, however both teams had already earned a spot in today's final. Dylan Smith joined teammate and tournament MVP Ricardo Ruiz as the top scorers in the tournament with the game-winning goal on an impressive strike from 20 yards out in the 11th minute, while Golden Glove winner Keith Murphy and the Fullerton defense kept Magic off the board.
Following the match, Fullerton coach Jimmy Obleda reflected on the win, "There's nothing better than this. To say that now you can put a star on your jersey and say you're the national champion, really, words can't explain the feeling. It just brings everything full circle. Dallas Cup is one of the most prestigious tournaments internationally, but to say that you're a national champion, to say we're the best in the country at our age, this is the highest that you can achieve. Regardless of how the game has changed and all this other stuff is going on, this is the pinnacle of youth soccer. This is it."
Under-15 Boys - Chicago Fire vs Michigan Jaguars, 3-1
Three goals in the second half, which included two in the final five minutes, led Chicago Fire (IL) to the Under-15 Boys National Championship after the Michigan Jaguars took the lead on a Griffin Parks goal five minutes into the game. Michael Catalano leveled the match for the Fire in the 59th minute before Christian Hanock-Berhanu netted the game winner with three minutes to play. Brian Werchek capped the game with Fire's third goal two minutes into stoppage time to give the club its first US Youth Soccer national title.
"For us it was tough to get a rhythm early in the season and to be able to turn around and get things right and play at the level we played really makes it special," said Fire coach Marc McElligott. "You want your team to progress and be better at the end of the season than you were at the start. I thought we really played well today and the team will take away an awful lot from this experience. It's tremendous."
Under-14 and Under-15 US Youth Soccer National Championship Results
Eclipse Select (IL) 0, Sting 97 (TX-N) 2
Sting: Chelsea Surpris (31:00), Catherine Gasper (57:00)
SAC United Premier (MD) 1, PDA Slammers (NJ) 2
PDA: Lauren Jankowski (35:00), Lauren Dimes (47:00)
SAC: Margaret Purce (73:00)
Chicago Magic (IL) 0, Fullerton Rangers 96 White (CA-S) 1
Rangers: Dylan Smith (11:00)
Michigan Jaguars (MI) 1, Chicago Fire (IL) 3
Fire: Michael Catalano (59:00), Christian Hanock-Berhanu (77:00), Brian Werchek (82:00)
Jaguars: Griffin Parks (5:00)
Team and Individual Awards
2011 US Youth Soccer National Champions
Under-14 Boys William J. "Billy" Goaziou Cup
Champion: Fullerton Rangers (CA-S)
Golden Ball: Richardo Ruiz, Fullerton Rangers (CA-S)
Golden Glove: Keith Murphy, Fullerton Rangers (CA-S)
Fair Play: Dallas Texans 97 Red (N-TX)
Under-14 Girls Elmer Ehlers Cup
Champion: Sting 97 (N-TX)
Golden Ball: Mimi Asom, Sting 97 (N-TX)
Golden Glove: Alyssa Palacios, Sting 97 (N-TX)
Fair Play: Eclipse Select (IL)
Under-15 Boys US Youth Soccer Cup
Champion: Chicago Fire (IL)
Golden Ball: Christian Hancock-Barhenu, Chicago Fire (IL)
Golden Glove: James Barkei, Chicago Fire (IL)
Fair Play: Michigan Jaguars (MI)
Under-15 Girls Kristine Lilly Cup
Champion: PDA Slammers (NJ)
Golden Ball: Caroline Chagares, PDA Slammers (NJ)
Golden Glove: Courtney Bronsan, PDA Slammers (NJ)
Fair Play: SAC United Premier (MD)
2011 US Youth Soccer National Championship Finals Schedule for Under-16 through Under-19
Sunday, July 31, 2011
8:00 AM - Field 18
Hurricane FC 95 Shubert (OK) vs Sting 95 (TX-N)
9:00 AM - Field 12
St. Louis Scott Gallagher (MO) vs NSA Premier Fury (IL)
7:45 AM - Field 17
FC Milwaukee (WI) vs Colorado Rush Nike (CO)
8:45 AM - Field 11
Real Colorado National 91/92 (CO) vs Dallas Texans 92 Red Dallas (TX-N)
7:30 AM - Field 16
Albion White (CA-S) vs Concorde Fire Elite (GA)
9:30 AM - Field 16
Penn Fusion Celtic (PA-E) vs Grand Rapids Crew Juniors (MI)
8:15 AM - Field 13
YMS Thunder (PA-E) vs Alpharetta Ambush 93 Red (GA)
8:30 AM - Field 14
Baltimore Bays Chelsea (MD) vs Chicago Fire (IL)
On Thursday, August 11 at 8 p.m. ET, the US Youth Soccer National Championships Highlight Show will premiere on the Fox Soccer Channel, US Youth Soccer's official television partner. The show will highlight the national championships providing game footage from all 12 championship matches, as well as feature stories, interviews and more.
The tournament consists of US Youth Soccer Regional Champions in the Under-14 through Under-19 Boys and Girls age groups as well as the US Youth Soccer National League qualifiers in the Under-15 through Under-17 Boys and Girls age groups to complete the field of 60 teams.
Daily reports and complete results from the tournament are available on
Keep up to the minute with US Youth Soccer National Championship Series on Twitter
About the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series –
The US Youth Soccer National Championship Series provides more than 10,000 teams from US Youth Soccer's 55 State Associations the opportunity to showcase their abilities against the best in the nation while emphasizing teamwork, discipline and fair play. The yearlong competition begins with over 185,000 players in the US Youth Soccer State Championships. These champions and selected wildcard teams, through US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues, advance to compete in one of four the US Youth Soccer Regional Championships. Champions (U-14 through U-19) from each regional event advance to the US Youth Soccer National Championships. The Under-15 through 17 Boys and Girls age groups have two teams representative of the US Youth Soccer National League, in which the top two teams in each gender age group earn a direct path to the national championships. Overall the National Championship Series provides top collegiate coaches with the premier stage to identify and scout the most coveted players in the country.
About the United States Youth Soccer Association (US Youth Soccer) –
US Youth Soccer - "The Game for ALL Kids!®"
is the largest youth sports organization in the country and largest member of the United States Soccer Federation, the governing body of soccer in the United States. US Youth Soccer registers more than 3 million players annually, ages 5 to 19, and over 900,000 administrators, coaches and volunteers in 55 member State Associations. US Youth Soccer programs provide a fun, safe and healthy environment for players at every level of the game. For more information, visit www.USYouthSoccer.org