A number of the area’s players will travel to Saginaw, Mich. for the U.S. Youth Soccer Region II (Midwest) Championships this weekend following State Cup victories with their respective teams.
The tournament, featuring the top U13 to U19 teams from 14 different state associations, will take place from June 23 to 27.
Four Southern Indiana players — Casey Marlin, Rebekah Burgan, Taylor Patty and Lauren Haley — are part of Mockingbird ’94 girls, who beat Lexington FC 2-1 to secure back-to-back Kentucky State Open Cups.
“I think we have a chance to do well,” said Haley, a recent graduate of Floyd Central. “Regional is a very tough tournament since almost every team is representing the state they come from as champs.”
Their first matchup is against SWISA Rush of Southwest Indiana on Saturday (4 p.m.). Rush defeated Carmel United 4-1 to win back-to-back Indiana State Cups.
On Sunday, Mockingbird ’94 plays Johnston Urbandale of Iowa (8 a.m.), before taking on Michigan Hawks on Monday (4 p.m.).
“We have to play SWISA, representing Indiana, and that has always been a very close game,” said Haley. “We have played Michigan Hawks several times over the past few years in MRL (Midwest Regional League) play and it has been close also.”
Unfortunately, Taylor Patty (Floyd Central) has been out since March with a knee injury which she is still recovering from, but she, Haley, Burgan (Floyd Central) and Marlin (Providence), are looking forward to college soccer in the fall. All have upped their efforts to prepare for their respective experiences.
“We have all worked together to get ready for next year and the new fitness demands,” said Haley. “I have been fortunate to avoid any injuries and learned a lot playing high-level competition all year. I think it has helped me prepare for next year.”
Meanwhile, Javanon ’95 girls — featuring Providence’s Leah Mattingly and Kasey Wallace — won its fifth state title when beating King’s Soccer Academy 2-l in the final.
This will be Mattingly’s fourth trip to a Region II championship but she still sees it as a “real honor” to play in one.
“I don’t take it for granted because a lot of players never get the opportunity to go,” she said.
Mattingly will be joined by school teammate Kasey Wallace, who normally plays with Javanon’s ’96 team but moves up with a couple of other players after their side missed out on a place at regionals.
“This year’s regional team is not very deep, due to injuries and one of our starting defenders not being able to go because of the Governor’s Scholars Program,” said Mattingly. “However, I feel that if we play as well as we did in State Cup, we should have a good showing.”
The girls open with a tough game against Michigan Hawks on Saturday (12 noon), before taking on Cedar River Soccer Association of Iowa on Sunday (10 a.m.) and Indiana’s Zionsville on Monday (2 p.m.).
A third team with local representation is United 1996 U17 International boys, which includes Providence’s Pierce Crawley.
The boys booked their place in Saginaw with a 2-0 victory over Kings Soccer Academy, with Crawley scoring the second with a left-footed effort.
Crawley said he was really looking forward to playing in regionals for the second time.
“This club team is the best team I’ve ever played for and I really enjoy playing soccer with all of them,” he said.
United’s first game is against Missouri’s Saint Louis Scott Gallagher on Saturday (10 a.m.). Then it’s a matchup against Dakota Alliance SC of South Dakota Sunday (12 noon) before finishing up group play against Wisconsin’s SC Waukesha Pumas on Monday (12 noon).
Qualifying teams from the round –robin stages will move onto next Tuesday’s semifinals, with the finals being held next Wednesday.
Midwest Region II winners from U14 through U19 age groups earn a berth to the national championships, which will be held in Rock Hill, South Carolina from July 25 to 29.