LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. – Five teams from Eastern Pennsylvania were crowned regional champions Thursday on the final day of the US Youth Soccer Eastern Regional Championships.
Three of Keystone FC's four teams at regionals won their finals and teams from Penn FC Youth and Reading Rage also added a regional final to their trophy case.
Four additional teams qualified for the USYS National Championships with wins on Thursday. Keystone FC Premier 06 Girls qualified previously through National League P.R.O. Keystone FC Premier 07 Boys and 2010 Girls, Penn FC Youth 2007 Girls and Reading Rage 09 Pugh also punched tickets.
A total of 20 teams from Eastern Pennsylvania have now qualified for the national championships, which will be played July 17-23 in Orlando. Keystone FC has five teams in and Penn FC Youth added a fourth team with the 2007 team's 3-0 win over Seacoast United.
"It was a really big breakthrough for us being able to come here," said Erika Murphy, who guest played for the 2008 team last summer at nationals. "It's amazing to see both teams get to nationals and all of the teams going from Penn FC. We all really worked hard for it and everyone is going to go down to Florida with the same mentality."
Penn FC ended up winning all six of their games, scoring 15 goals and conceding only four goals. They beat Seacoast for a second time after a 4-2 win on Saturday.
“The level of play throughout the week was very high,” said head coach Adam Freeman. “Our girls thrived on the competition throughout the week. Every time we stepped up against a more difficult team we seemed to up our level and when we got to the final the level of the team as a whole really showed in the three nil victory.”
Keystone FC 2007 Boys capped a remarkable turnaround with a 1-0 win on a late half volley winner from center back Lex Radosavljevic off a corner kick.
“It feels great,” Radosavljevic said after the win. “I didn’t even know it went in but then I heard everyone screaming.”
Keystone is one of just three finalists that suffered a loss in the competition. Keystone FC’s 2007 girls and New England Surf Navy 2005 boys were the others.
“These kids are resilient,” Keystone 2007 boys head coach Brent Brockman said. “After the first day I thought that morale would be low but they were confident we’d get through and once we got through it showed we couldn’t be stopped. We’ve been building for this all year and we’re hitting stride at the right time.”
Keystone’s defense was a big part of their success. After losing to Burke Athletic Club 2-0 on Friday, they conceded just twice the rest of the way. On Thursday they were unable to capitalize on a chance to go up early on a penalty kick but the defense continued to lock things down to set up the late winner.
“They’ve been lock down on defense,” Brockman said. “That’s the reason why we’re here; that’s the reason we have the trophy.”
In addition to Thursday's five winners, four other Eastern PA teams were finalists: FC Europa Elite 2009 Boys, Keystone FC Premier 2008 Girls, Lower Merion SC FCE 2008 Boys Thunder and Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals Elite 64 2005 Boys.
Eastern Pennsylvania had the most finalists of the 15 Eastern State Associations and tied with Eastern New York for the most champions. Maryland (2), New Jersey (1), Virginia (1), Massachusetts (1), and New York West (1) also had winning teams.