LANCASTER, Pa. — The Portland Phoenix Elite under-16 boys soccer team’s 3-1 victory over Beachside (Conn.) during pool play in the U.S. Youth Soccer Association’s Region I Championships last week could turn heads in the youth soccer community, according to Wyatt Omsberg of the Phoenix.
“It kind of puts Maine on the map,” said Omsberg, a center midfielder who was the No. 3 scorer in his age group with four goals.
Region I is one of four in the country and it stretches from Maine to the Virginias, with New York and Pennsylvania split into two associations for a total of 16 in the region.
The win is important because Beachside was seen as the No. 1 team in the region in that age group. Beachside also competed in the USYSA’s National League, finishing second in the Red Division and automatically qualifying for next season’s National League.
Both teams were 2-0 entering that third and final game of pool play.
Omsberg saw his goal as being a key point in the Phoenix’s victory over Beachside.
“I scored the first goal against Beachside,” said Omsberg, who lives in Belgrade. “Once we settled in and got that goal, we just played normal.”
The win put the Phoenix in the semifinals, the only one of the 16 Maine age-group squads to achieve that goal.
The Downtown United Soccer Club of New York City edged the Phoenix 1-0 in overtime in the semis.
“I thought it was an even game,” said the 16-year-old Omsberg. “There weren’t very many chances to score.”
Beachside scored late in the overtime period to advance to the final.
“It could have gone either way,” said Omsberg. “Unfortunately, it went the wrong way at the end of it. But, it was a great game.”
The Velocity Soccer Club under-14 girls, based in Gorham, came closest to matching the Phoenix’s performance. Velocity went 2-1 and finished second in its pool, falling 4-0 to eventual pool champ Montgomery (Md.) Soccer Club’s Coyotes Green in its second game.
“They definitely did not make many mistakes,” said Velocity’s Elizabeth Lane, of Hiram, about the Coyotes.
Both Maine teams had good defense supplemented by consistent scoring.
In addition to Omsberg’s scoring, teammate Austin Bell also made the top 10 with a pair of goals. Lane led her age group with five goals.
Elliot Maker was the top scorer among the U17 boys with six goals as he led the Seacoast United Maine Crew of Portland to a 1-1-1 record and a third-place mark. Chandler Reagan of the Portland Phoenix Elite U15 boys tied for third in scoring with four goals after his team finished third at 1-2.
Because of the defensive nature of the game, a hot scorer can alter the balance of the game. Omsberg was that person for his team, but he gave just as much credit for his success to his teammates.
“I’ve been scoring a lot of goals, but I’ve been getting a lot of great passes from my teammates,” he said.
That was a sentiment echoed by Lane, who is normally a center midfielder but was moved up to forward for the Region I Championships.
“I had a few breakaways, but most [of her goals] were off incredible passes by my teammates that I wouldn’t have got without their help,” said Lane, 14.
After losing to the Coyotes Green, Lane’s team had to win its third game and hope another team topped the Coyotes in their last pool game.
“We definitely wanted to get a couple of goals and get close to them [in case the Coyotes lost],” said Lane, who marveled at the Coyotes’ play while still trying to beat them.
“Their first touch and speed of play, it was surprising how good they were,” she said. “They passed so well. It was amazing to see.”
Lane said she gladly would trade the recognition she got for the goals if her team could have also made the playoffs.
“It would be important to me as a team to get that [playoff spot] rather than me be the top scorer,” she said.
She sees that as a possibility next year.
“I think we will try to train and be the best team in Region I [in U15 next year],” she said. “I think we have the potential to do that.”
Omsberg said the same of his team, which will be in U17 next year.
“This definitely gives us a lot of confidence that next year we can go further,” said Omsberg.
The overall record of all the Maine teams was 13-32-4, including the Phoenix’s playoff loss.
Each age group from U12 through U19 — except the U12 boys and girls, both regulation field and short-side 8 vs. 8; and the U19 boys — had 16 teams split into four, four-team pools. Maine didn’t send any entries for the regulation-field U12 boys and girls or the U19 boys.
The winner of each pool (or the top four teams by points for those age groups with fewer than 16 teams) advanced to the semifinals, and the two winners played for the Region I title. Region I champions in U14 through U19 move on to the national championships July 24-29 in Rock Hill, S.C.
The Portland Phoenix Elite U12 (8 vs. 8) boys finished second with a 1-0-2 mark.
Posting 1-2 records and third-place finishes were the Seacoast United Maine Blackwell U14 boys, the Portland Phoenix Elite U15 boys, the Blackbear United U15 girls of Bangor, the U18 Seacoast United Maine Juventus girls, the Portland Phoenix Maine United U19 girls and the Seacoast United Maine McCormack U12 (8 vs. 8) boys.
In the U13 girls age group, Seacoast United Maine Celtic finished third on better goal differential after posting an 0-2-1 mark.
The MCU Portland Phoenix Firecrackers U16 boys, the Seacoast United Maine Inter Milan U17 boys, the Seacoast United Maine U18 boys, the Portland Phoenix Elite U13 boys and the Portland Phoenix Elite U12 girls (8 vs. 8) each recorded 0-3 marks.
Sternmen GM named US scout
General Manager Dave Daniello of the Maine Sternmen has been named U.S. scout for the Lefroy Wave Junior A Hockey Club of the Greater Metro Hockey League.
The Sternmen also have been named an official affiliate of the club, based in Lefroy, Ontario.
The Sternmen, based in Camden, have openings for their U18 and U16 teams. For more information, call Daniello at 207-542-3046 or email email@example.com.