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Seven Teams Prepare for Regional Competition

Seven SDA teams are headed to West Virginia for the US Youth East Region Championships, including six State Cup champions (07 Girls, 06 Girls, 05 Boys, 03 Boys, 02 Girls and 00 Girls) and the 06 Boys who earned a wild card spot. 

SDA Director of Soccer, Michael Paolini is proud of how many players and their families are committed to this higher level of competition, which begins June 28. He says buzz around the ongoing Women’s World Cup adds to the enthusiasm for the sport in general — and this particular event.

He coaches the 07 Girls, who are headed to Regionals the first year their age was eligible. “They’re so excited,” Paolini says. “It’s rewarding to see them get so excited about winning.”

The bracket they’re in for Regionals includes some strong teams, Paolini acknowledges. “But if we can make it out of the bracket, I think we have a really good chance to win Regionals.”

Teams play in a 3-game “group stage” just like World Cup, with one game per day the first three days. Winning teams from each bracket advance with the chance to win their way to Nationals in a final game on the Fourth of July.

This is the first time the 05 Boys have won their way into Regionals, and coach Adam Olinski is confident the team can come away as Regional champions. 

“As long as we play our game, we’ll be alright,” he says. 

In practice sessions lately, Olinski says the team has focused on “little details that are going to matter.” That includes positioning, corner kicks and set pieces, “things that can make a difference if you capitalize on them when it matters.” 

He’s telling the boys that even though they will face strong competition during their time in West Virginia, they should also enjoy their time at Regionals. 

This is the third trip to Regionals for the 03 Boys, and coach Shannon Colton says the team is excited. “We are actually facing our arch rival, Baltimore Celtic, for our first game.” 

This year, after the first round of three games, there will be quarter finals and semi finals before the final games, which will determine which teams go to Nationals. Coltan explains that means some second place teams will have an opportunity to advance.

“We’re going down there (to West Virginia) for one reason, and one reason only, and that’s to win it,” he says. 

Having competed in the EDP League this year, the 03 Boys are familiar with most of the teams at Regionals. Plus, having played in the US Youth National League, the boys have the experience of playing — and beating — some of the strongest teams in the nation. More than once, the team has been down at the half, only to battle back and win.

“We have a fantastic team,” says Colton. “We can come back and score goals no matter how much time is left in the game.”

His strategy is to keep possession, possess with a purpose, and put the ball in the back of the net. if the boys do that, Colton says, “we have a legit chance of winning.”

Keep an eye on the Regional games at this website: Some of the matches may be streamed. 

For the Regional champions, Nationals take place in July in Overland Park, Kansas.

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