BARBOURSVILLE — West Virginia teams completed a rough opening to group play on the first day of the US Youth Soccer Eastern Regional Championship at Barboursville Soccer Complex and Shawnee Sports Complex in Dunbar Friday.
Hosted by the West Virginia Soccer Association, the tournament saw the host state turn in a first day record of four wins, 11 losses and five ties in group play.
Alex Fatovic, an assistant soccer coach for Marshall University and the head coach of two teams from West Virginia Futbol Club currently in the tournament, said despite the losses the state's progress in developing good soccer players is still evident.
"All the kids and even the parents can look around and see what they're up against and the things they have to do to have world class soccer players come from West Virginia," Fatovic said.
While both of Fatovic's team's, the WVFC's boys 2006 Black and boys 2003 Black, lost on the first day of round-robin group play he said the state's teams no longer show intimidation when facing nationally ranked teams from more populous areas.
Fatovic's WVFC 2006 Black lost to an impressive Philadelphia Ukrainian Nationals squad 4-0 in a boys 13-under group game while his WVFC 2003 Black 16U boys team lost to 5-0.
"The big piece is keeping composure," Fatovic said.
Keeping composure could have made a difference for Brian Shields' 14U boys team that faced Gotsoccer.com's national No. 1 BRAUSA from Maryland. Despite a 3-2 loss, Shields' WVFC 2005 Black team still has hope of rebounding with wins Saturday and Sunday that could help the team advance to the semifinals Tuesday at the Shawnee Sports Complex.
"We just went 3-2 toe-to-toe with the No. 1 team in the nation," said Shields whose Charleston-based team trained together for the first time Thursday night. "We make a PK it's a 3-3 game and its a different story but super proud of these guys."
The best teams from each group will advance to the semifinals and Shields said a loss by BRAUSA in any of its next two games would put WVFC 2005 Black in position to advance out of Group C if it wins its next two games. They will play Saturday at 1:30 at the Cabell Midland High School football against Empire United Buffalo.
The 14U proved to be one of the strongest for West Virginians Friday with Charleston-Morgantown squad of FC Alliance 05B fighting to a 2-2 tie with New Jersey's Future SA 05 team in Group A. The girls 14U FC Alliance 2005 had a scoreless tie with Maryland's MRM Coyotes Blue. Delaware FC 05 girls handed West Virginia its most lopsided defeat in the age group with a 5-0 win over the girls of WVFC 2005.
The 13U girls team from Parkersburg, RVSC Select, dropped a close game with Syracuse Development Academy 3-2 after the squad was unable to overcome a slow start.
After SDA scored two goals late in the first half, Select rebounded with a goal from forward Jozy Barton who hit a header that took a high bounce over the Syracuse keeper to cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 46th minute.
Barton said her team "didn't come out as much as we've should've," but regrouped in the second half.
Barton scored a second goal for her team when she took advantage of a punt that went sideways off the foot of the Syracuse keeper who fell trying to regain possession of the errant ball. Barton was left one-on-one with the goalie and sent a shot to the center of the net when the keeper dove to try and cover the ball.
Select will start the second day of group contests with a 10 a.m. match against Far Post Soccer Club 2006 from Vermont on Field 13 at Barboursville Soccer Complex.