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June 23, 2012
Region III Champs crowned, ECNL Showcase on Sunday

GREENVILLE, SC– A total of 14 champions were crowned in the 2012 US Youth Soccer Region III (South) Championships.

These teams, in the Under-14 through Under-19 age groups, now advance to the third and final stage of the quest for the national championships. These Region III Champions will join the 12 National League qualifying teams and the champions from Region I, Region II and Region IV tournaments for the National Championships in Rock Hill, S.C., July 24-29.

Florida led the way in Region III, sending four teams from four different clubs to the National Championships. South Carolina will send three teams to Rock Hill while North Texas and Tennessee will each send two teams. Georgia will round off the group by sending one team.

Highlighting the oldest age group, Brentwood 93 Premier (TN) fell to CCSC SOL (FL) 2-0 in the U-19 Girls final. A brilliant Emily Cooksey strike gave CCSC the lead just before half, and Allison Brashear added an insurance goal in the 63rd . Many of the girls on this CCSC team were formerly of Ponte Vedra and competed in the National Championships, but have never won that coveted title.

Longtime rivals CESA 92 (SC) and GSA 93 Phoenix Red (GA) battled in the U-19 Boys final for the chance to compete for the James P McGuire Cup at the national championships. After a 1-1 draw at the end of regulation, Josimar Olmos and Dominic Bonilla found the net as GSA claimed the regional title for the first time for this squad.

After a scoreless first half, TNFC 98 Azzurri (TN) won the U-14 Girls regional title with two second-half goals to beat Liverpool 98 Elite (TX-N). Meredith Slessman struck in the 41st for her sixth of the tournament and Daniella Marcano added an insurance goal in the 61st to secure her team a berth in the national championships.

After a goalless first 70 minutes in the U-14 Boys final, FC Dallas 98 Premier (TX-N) and Sunrise Elite (FL) entered overtime knowing the first goal would be pivotal. Jack Skahan made sure momentum swung in favor of Sunrise Elite, as he ran onto a ball over the top and slotted home the decisive strike for a 1-0 victory.

Same name, different roster, same result. Sting 97 is once again Region III champs as they got the better of AHFC 97 (TX-S) in the U-15 Girls final. Vianei Sanchez finished a successful buildup from the Sting midfield to put her team in the lead. Sting defended well and goalkeeping played a huge part to ensure that one goal was enough to claim the championship.

The U-15 Boys final between GSA Phoenix 97 Red (GA) and SAA Real Madrid Miami (FL) was tied after regulation, tied after overtime, and decided by penalty kicks. Eight minutes into the first overtime period, Momodou Jallow gave GSA a 1-0 lead. Just five minutes from the regional championship, GSA then lost the lead as SAA's Sebastian Herran scored from 35 yards out. In the shootout, SAA made all five shots and came up with the one needed save to advance to the national championships.

CESA (SC) went three-for-three in championship games, with the first win by the U-16 girls over OFC 96 (OK). After both teams created but couldn't convert scoring chances through regulation and overtime, the championship was decided by spot kicks. Going nine shooters deep, CESA netted the decisive penalty and won the title.

For the second year in a row, the U-16 Boys champion hails from CESA (SC). This year, CESA 95 claimed the regional title by beating GSA 96 Phoenix Red (GA). After GSA cleared a defensive corner, the ball came out to Glennon Donohue who served the ball back post, where Jackson Karolcyk slotted it home. CESA may meet GSA again at the National Championships, as the Georgia team had previously qualified for the event via the US Youth Soccer National League.

The CESA U-17 Girls followed suit in similarly dramatic fashion. Brandon FC Flames (FL) took the lead as Caroline Evers slotted home a loose ball in the box in the 24th minute. Less than 10 minutes after halftime, CESA leveled the game at one. Merely seconds from the final whistle and potential overtime, CESA's Emily McCord sent a long ball to the back post, where Meaghan Carrigan found enough space to nod the ball back across the keeper and into the net for the game and tournament winner.

Both teams in the U-17 Boys final advanced from the semis via late goals, and when Solar Chelsea 95 (TX-N) and Jacksonville United (FL) met on Thursday, the game was challenged until the final whistle. Kareem Itani gave Solar a lead just before halftime and Casey Eaton added another in the 62nd minute, his fourth of the week. Emir Hidic brought Jacksonville back within one in the 83rd , but Solar held on for the win and the regional title.

For years Brentwood 94 Premier (TN) has come agonizingly close to a berth in the national championships. Last year they went home after making it to the final and worked all year to change the outcome this time around. Their U-18 finals day opponent, AHFC 94 (TX-S) made the road difficult, scoring immediately off the opening kickoff to claim a 1-0 lead. Brentwood's Victoria Hawkins equalized before half and Chesney White scored in the 65th on a quick counter attack to give Brentwood the lead. Just three minutes later, Jillian Lutz headed home a goal to bring the teams level again. Brentwood would not be denied and Lindsey Mayo made the most of her strike in overtime to finally claim the regional title.

The U-18 Boys final was a rematch of the 2011 championship game, as Florida Rush Nike (FL) faced TSCH 94 Earle (OK). For the first 45 minutes, both teams enjoyed periods of possession and quality chances without scoring a goal. In the 62nd minute, Florida Rush’s Jean Rivaroli finished a cross off a half volley. Solid defending and goalkeeping kept a shutout for Rush and the team repeated as regional champs.

2012 US Youth Soccer Region III (South) Champions
Under-13 (GA) NASA 17 Elite (Kennesaw)
Under-14 (TN) TNFC 98 Azzurri (Franklin)
Under-15 (TX-N) Sting 97 (Dallas)
Under-16 (SC) CESA 95 Premier (Greenville)
Under-17 (SC) CESA 94 Premier (Greenville)
Under-18 (TN) Brentwood 94 Premier (Brentwood)
Under-19 (FL) CCSC SOL (Fleming Island)

Under-13 (TX-N) Dallas Texans (Dallas)
Under-14 (FL) Sunrise Elite 97/98 (Sunrise)
Under-15 (FL) SAA Real Madrid Miami (Miami)
Under-16 (SC) CESA 95 Premier (Greenville)
Under-17 (TX-N) Solar Chelsea 95 (Dallas)
Under-18 (FL) Florida Rush Nike (Ocoee)
Under-19 (GA) GSA 93 Phoenix Red (Lilburn)

ECNL Showcase on Sunday
The Elite Clubs National League resumes its National Showcase Event Series in Chicago's northern suburbs on Sunday, as the country's top girls' club teams conclude the 2011-12 ECNL season at the ECNL National Finals in Waukegan, Ill.

A weeklong event, the National Finals bring together the nation's top teams in the Under-14, U-15, U-15, U-16, U-17 and U-18 age groups to crown the ECNL national champions, while giving players unparalleled exposure to hundreds of college coaches from across the nation. All matches will be played at the Waukegan SportsPark.

"The Road to Waukegan" began with the outset of the ECNL regular season in September, and crisscrossed the United States for five ECNL Showcase Events.

Each team at the U-15 and U-18 age groups participated in two national events, while each team at the U-16 and U-17 age groups participated in three of these events.

While every ECNL club will be playing in Waukegan, the "Top 16" Under-15 through U-18 teams in Flight A, and the "Top 8" teams in U-15 through U-17 B-Flight, will be competing for a national title. The "Top 16" U-14 teams, meaning the top two teams from each ECNL conference, will also be competing for a National Championship.

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