Nine Eastern Pennsylvania teams are a win away from being crowned regional champions after advancing to the finals of the USYS Eastern Regional Championships.
Four teams from Keystone FC along with teams from FC Europa, Lower Merion SC, Penn FC Youth, Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals and Reading Rage booked spots in the final in semifinal matches played Wednesday at Hal & Berni Hanson Regional Park in Loudoun County, Virginia.
Only one of the teams - Keystone FC Premier 06 Girls - has booked a ticket to the national championships in Orlando. Eight others have a chance to join them and 15 other teams from Eastern PA that earned bids through National League P.R.O.
Keystone FC's 2010 girls team was the last team on the field Wednesday, earning their berth to the final through eight rounds of penalties after a scoreless draw with NJ Crush.
“There’s a ton of emotions going on but our team held through and we got it,” said Casey New. “I’m just really happy right now.”
Keystone FC fell behind twice in the shootout but recovered and ended it with a save in sudden death. “She is just incredible,” New said of goalkeeper Sammie Putt. “I don’t know that we’d make it if she wasn’t here.”
The four Keystone FC teams will be joined by another Harrisburg area team in Penn FC Youth 2007 Girls, which beat Reading Rage 07 Press 2-1 in an Eastern Pennsylvania derby on Wednesday.
The loss was a first for a Reading Rage team at regionals. Reading Rage 09 Pugh took a 2-0 lead in their semifinal but needed a couple more to put away NJ Blaze by a 4-2 score line. The Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals 05 Boys had a similar battle in their game, which also ended a 4-2 win.
The possibility of all-Eastern PA finals in the 2009 and 2008 Girls divisions was spoiled by South Shore FC of New York East and FC Frederick of Virginia.
South Shore took a 2-0 lead in the first half against Penn Alliance Select Elite that they weren’t able to overcome. The two goals were the first conceded by Penn Alliance in the competition. FC Europa 2008 Girls fell on penalties after a 2-2 draw in a match against FC Frederick they led 2-0.
Two semifinals pitted teams from each side of the commonwealth.
Keystone FC 2008 girls played FC 814 Energy scoreless through the first period of overtime but hit the back of the net twice in overtime to advance. Lower Merion SC FCE Thunder 2008 Boys knocked off Beadling SC with a 2-0 win.
PA Dominion 2006 Boys and YMS Premier United 2010 Boys saw their regional runs come to an end on one-goal losses.
Counting Tuesday's semifinal Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals 2011 Boys lost, Eastern PA had 15 teams advance to regional semifinals have nine in the final, which was the high-water mark for any state association. New York East had 11 teams advance to a semifinal and eight teams advance to the finals.