BARBOURSVILLE - The 2019 US Youth Soccer Eastern President's Cup kicked off its four-day tournament in Barboursville and Dunbar, West Virginia, Friday with 108 teams - 10 from the Mountain State - playing the first preliminary games.

Six of the teams are part of the West Virginia Futbol Club's Eastern Panhandle affiliate in Martinsburg, while the other teams hail from Charleston, Bridgeport, Shepherdstown and Beckley.

Seven age groups with each having a girls and boys division are mostly comprised of eight teams each. Just two age groups, 17 and under or 17U plus the 18U girls, divisions had six teams. Each team is vying to win its age group to advance to the National President's Cup Tournament from July 10-14 at Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Three of the 10 West Virginia teams picked up first-day victories with the Bridgeport's Empire FC girls 12U team defeating Pipeline SC Black (Maryland) 4-1 at the Barboursville Soccer Complex. The team will face GPS NJ South 07 (New Jersey) at 11:30 Saturday on Field 12B in Barboursville.

The girls 12U division was the only one that featured two West Virginia teams. The Charleston Clash was shutout 3-0 by Premier Soccer Club Girls Gold (Maryland). The Clash, coached by Nicolette Bell, have two more chances to keep its hopes of advancing to the semifinals alive. Charleston will play Saturday at 1 p.m. against Winchester United 07G Orange (Virginia) and once more on Sunday at 1 p.m. against Beadling 2007 Girls East Blue (Pennsylvania).

Both of those games will played in Barboursville.

Epic 06 United defeated FC Sportica (New Jersey) 2-0 in its Friday preliminary in the girls 13U while the only other victory for West Virginia teams came in the 14U girls by WVFC 05G Red which defeated BAC Strikers (Virginia) 4-1.

Coaches and players both reflected on the tougher level of play that comes with a large tournament such as the Eastern President's Cup.

"We haven't done this tournament before," said Epic 06 United's Mollie Rebuck of Hedgesville. "New Jersey had to a lot more to get here than we did."

Rebuck said with a much larger talent pool, New Jersey's champion had to win more games than her team did, though Epic 06 United won the State Cup last year and the Elite Development Program contests to earn its way into the Eastern Regional.

"I felt the game could have gone either way," head coach Aric Canonico said of his team from Shepherdstown. "When we put this team together we wanted the opportunity for the girls to come and be a part of this tournament."

Epic 06 United, serving Berkeley and Jefferson counties, has a pair of 9 a.m. games, one on Saturday, the other on Sunday, to finish the preliminary round.

Semifinals for each age group will begin Monday with all matches being played at the Shawnee Sports Complex in Dunbar. The finals will be Tuesday at the Shawnee Sports Complex.


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