Three local club teams headed to regions

Trio of club soccer teams won state championships this weekend, will advance to next month's region competition.

Published May 23, 2007

CLEARWATER - A trio of local club soccer teams won state championships this weekend in Fort Myers and will advance to next month's region competition.

The Clearwater Chargers girls under-15, Countryside Lightning (girls U-19) and Strictly Soccer FC (boys U-14) won the Florida Youth Soccer Association State Cup in their respective divisions. The three teams qualified to play for the U.S. Youth Soccer Region III Championship on June 28-July 4 at the South Lakes Soccer Complex in Oklahoma City, Okla.

The Chargers, featuring six state Olympic Development Players as well as National Pool Player Kaley Blades (Dunedin), beat Melbourne Eau Gallie 2-1 in the semifinals and hammered Jacksonville FC 4-1 in the final. Madison Hansen (Clearwater Central Catholic) dummied a ball to Blades for the first strike against Melbourne Eau Gallie, and Casey McKeon launched a shot from near midfield for the Chargers' second goal.

"It was absolutely crazy, " Chargers coach Sergei Stopek said of McKeon's goal.

Rebecca Hurst struck first in the final with a blast to the far left from 18 yards out. Then a goal from Mary Ann Krlin (Osceola) and two from Sam Newhaller (Palm Harbor University) gave Clearwater a comfortable 4-0 lead in the final.

"These girls are so industrious and hard working, " Stopek said. "But they work for the team just as much as themselves."

For the Lightning, it's their second consecutive trip to the regions. Countryside got an overtime goal from Vanessa Rangel (Freedom, Tampa) to grab a 1-0 in the State Cup final over the Renegades, a team that had long been the Lightning's nemesis. Countryside beat the Renegades last year in the State Cup semifinals, but had been knocked out by them the previous three years.

"A lot of our girls had played against (the Renegades) since they were in U-11, " Lightning and PHU girls coach John Planamenta said. "It just seemed right these two teams should meet in the final in their last year."

Contact Brandon Wright at bwright@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2216.