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News - Details

Five teams from Eastern PA into the semifinals of the USYS National Championships

July 21, 2023 07:26 PM

248A0253ORLANDO, FL — Five teams from Eastern Pennsylvania are moving on to the semifinals of the US Youth Soccer National Championships after the completion of group play on Thursday at ESPN Wide World of Sports.

Two teams from PA Dominion and teams from Penn FC Youth, Lower Merion SC and Keystone FC all advanced after playing three group games. They’ll all play their semifinals on Saturday morning.

Penn FC Youth 2004 Lightning Girls, national champions in 2021 and finalists in 2022, won all three of their group games as did Lower Merion SC Thunder 2008 Boys and PA Dominion 2005 Boys. PA Dominion 2004 Boys. PA Dominion 2004 Boys and Keystone FC Premier 2006 Girls both advanced with two ties and a draw. Keystone FC Premier 2006 Girls overcame an early 1-0 deficit to win 3-0 and book their spot in the semifinal while PA Dominion 2004 Boys needed a late equalizer from Liam Hartman to advance on tiebreakers after a 2-2 draw with Oregon Premier Academy.

“Corner kick play I’m not usually back post, the ball came to me and…history,” Hartman said. “Every game is a dog fight and it’s just about moving to the next thing and staying as long as you can.”

After scoring, Hartman ran to the corner where players from the 2005 team and Hunter SC (his younger brother Brady’s team) were celebrating.

The game initially kicked off at 8 p.m. but was delayed in the 14th minute with PA Dominion leading on a Seth Michalak goal 46 seconds into the match. Play resumed after a 90-minute delay and Oregon found an equalizer off a corner kick just before halftime. Oregon took the lead in the 62nd minute.

“They came down and scored a great one and we didn’t give up and we very much stayed the course,” head coach Mike Gorni said. “Our substitution and depth comes in and Hartman finishes a beauty and we see it through.”

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Keystone FC’s 2006 girls also came from behind to secure their spot in the semifinal. They went down early to Michigan Rangers but found an equalizer just after half and found the eventual winner minutes later before adding a third.

“The first half we did not play our best,” said Lily Cornwell, who assisted on the equalizer and scored the second from distance. “The beginning of the second half we just kicked it into gear and on the goal I had open space, took the shot and it worked out for the best.”

The 2006 girls ended up being the only one of five Keystone FC teams to advance despite a strong showing from more than just the 2006 girls. As a club they went 7-6-2 in group play.

“We came our first year in 2018 and I remember Jeff (Linnenbach) talking about how neat it would be need to have a couple more teams come,” said Sean Cochran, a coach and executive director of the Mechanicsburg-based club. “It’s been a number of years of hard work from all of these coaches and they continue to put the work in with the teams and the teams are producing.”

While Thursday was an exciting day for the five teams that advanced, 16 other Eastern PA teams saw their journey come to an end. Three of those teams - FC Revolution Reds, YMS Premier Celtic and Hunter SC 62 Blues - missed out on the semifinal despite not losing a match.

With only the group winner advancing, it came down to goals against for the Reds and goal differential for Celtic. Hunter needed to win and score two more goals to advance.

“We didn’t lose a game, nothing to hang our heads about,” said Hunter 62 Blues head coach Michael Hoffman “.We let up one goal against some of the best teams in the country and it came down to maybe one goal that would’ve pushed us through to the semifinal.”

Eastern PA teams went 27-21-14 in the 62 games played (FC Europa and Iron Valley United played each other in their first game) and outscored opponents 126-93.

Saturday Semifinal Schedule

Time Home Team Away Team Division Streaming Link
8 a.m. Galaxy SC PA Dominion 18U Boys
8 a.m. PA Dominion Spire FC 19U Boys
8 a.m. Lower Merion SC Thunder Utah Celtic 15U Boys  
8 a.m. Keystone FC Premier Solar SC 17U Girls  
10:30 a.m. Penn FC Youth Lightning North Oaks Soccer Club 19U Girls