(Jun 28, 2016) Eastside FC G98 Red is headed back to the US Youth Soccer National Championships after being crowned GU17 champions in Region IV in Boise, Idaho, on Sunday. This was the team's fourth trip with Coach Tom Bialek to Regionals. Twice before they made it into the National Championships, where they were crowned National Champions after their first trip in 2013, and placed third in 2014. Only one other Washington team, U17 boys, was to be found amongst the fourteen U13-U19 teams to win the western region and a berth in the National Championships, July 25-31 in Frisco, Texas.
"It was a great week! I am very proud of how the players responded to all of the different challenges they faced," said EFC's Coach Bialek of the regional championship series. "The girls played as well as they ever have during the early part of the week, and then played with great unity and determination in the last few games." He added, "In the biggest games, the overall depth of our team proved to be the difference." The team's unity and depth became readily apparent this tourney, with goals coming from 9 different player -- defenders, mids and forwards -- all getting on the board.
Eastside FC's G98s earned the championship title after winning five straight in the Region IV series, then facing down Celtic Storm 99 Premier from Utah 2-0 in the final, which was a nail-biter with 77 scoreless minutes to start. US Soccer U17 Girls' National Team player, Joanna "Jojo" Harber, broke the stalemate in the 78th minute with the title-winner. Alexa Kirton doubled Eastside FC’s lead with an insurance goal just four minutes later.
The regional title was well deserved. The players worked hard this 2015-2016 soccer year, having finished on top as 2016 Regional Club League GU19 Div 1 Champions, 2016 Far West Regional League (FWRL) NW GU17 Champions, and 2016 GU17 Washington State Champions. The GU17s, in fact, continue undefeated this year in league, State Cup and the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series.
Click here to watch a replay of the championship match.
In addition to EFC G98 Red, three other Eastside teams represented the club at the Region IV Championships: Eastside FC 01 Red (BU14), Eastside FC 98 Red (BU17) and Eastside FC 99 Red (GU16). "Each of our teams had significant accomplishments at the regional competition," reported Bialek, who also serves as the club's Coaching Director. "The '99 girls pushed the eventual champion Legends FC right to the end, and were unlucky to not get a tying goal in a 0-1 quarterfinal loss. The '01 boys overcame a slow first day to win the next two games and finish first out of their bracket. The '98 boys played the eventual champion to a 0-0 tie."