Three area teams won respective U.S. Youth Soccer Region II titles Wednesday in Saginaw, Mich., and in doing so earned automatic qualifying berths for the national championships July 22-28 in Overland Park, Kan.
A fourth area squad advanced to the national event by winning a regional qualifier.
The Lou Fusz 2005 team coached by Dave Geerling, won the 14-under girls title by defeating Tonka Fusion Elite of Minnesota 1-0 in the seventh round of penalty kicks when goalkeeper Aubrey Andrews made a save and midfielder Mia Martin scored the sudden-victory penalty. Martin's goal gave Lou Fusz 2005 a 5-4 victory in the tiebreaker after a scoreless game.
“This has been an exciting year for the girls,” Geerling said. “They'd already qualified for nationals, but this is special because they played five great games and went unbeaten to qualify for nationals this way. We came up prepared to play here right from the get-go and probably played our best soccer in the semifinal (a 3-0 win over Nationals Tri-County of Michigan).”
Geerling said that the trio of forward Morgan Struttmann, forward Brooke Cattoor and Martin played key roles for the offense while defenders Audrey Goodyear and Anna Pagano played big roles in the back.
Fusz-Geerling (22-1-1) had already qualified for nationals based on the team's national league play.
The Lou Fusz 2003 girls team, coached by Caleb McKee, won the 16U division. Like the Geerling squad, Fusz-McKee also had qualified for nationals based on league play
Its 3-1 win over the Iowa Rush came thanks to a pair of goals by Sarah Foley after Brynna Rutherford opened the scoring. Madalyn Davis earned the win in goal for Fusz-McKee.
The third team to come away victorious Wednesday was the Sporting St. Louis 2004 Red Devils team, which won the 15U title.
In the team's 1-0 win over Waukesha Soccer Club from Wisconsin, forward Brooke Kittner scored a second half goal to provide the margin of victory.
Maura Giesler earned the win in goal.
Another Fusz team advanced to nationals as the U19 team coached by Mike Elam won its regional qualifying game by defeating the Kentucky Fire 2-1 in overtime. Jaimie Tottleben scored the game-winner in the 110th minute while Kate Jozwiakowski scored the team's other goal in the 45th minute.
Ashton Lindsley earned the win in goal.
Fusz-Elam qualified for nationals as the teams that played in the regional championship game — Campton United (Ill.) and MapleBrook (Minn.) Fury — had both already qualified for nationals based upon their national league results.