Three area teams earned berths in the U.S. Youth Soccer Association's national championship tournament by winning Region I titles yesterday in Virginia Beach.
Leading the way was the under-18 Bethesda Excel girls' team, which outscored its first four opponents 19-0 before defeating Arsenal World Class of New Jersey, 4-3, in yesterday's final. Excel features All-Mets Emily Forline (Bethesda-Chevy Chase), Amanda Poach (Bowie) and Hayley Siegel (Centennial).
Bethesda had seven girls' teams in the regional tournament, with the under-13, under-15 and under-19 teams losing in the semifinals.
"It all depends on who you play. It's tough competition," said Brad Roos, Bethesda's vice president. "Some teams expected to be in the finals and win. For other teams, it was a positive experience."
Also qualifying for nationals: the under-19 Reston FC '85 boys' team and the under-14 Potomac Cougars boys' team. Reston defeated the Albertson Red Storm Clash of eastern New York, 1-0, in the final, and Potomac topped the Premier Futbol Raiders of New Jersey, 2-1, in overtime.
Regional winners in under-14 through under-19 play will compete in the national championships in Orlando, July 26-31.
"Our boys have been together for a long time. We expect to win our region. Every tournament we enter we expect to win," said RFC '85 Coach Yuri Sagatov. "We're going to have a little fun in Orlando and we'll bring back the hardware."
Two area teams won regional titles in under-12 play. The Maryland-based SAC United Premier girls' team defeated Virginia's Braddock Road Azul, 2-1, in overtime, and the Potomac Fusion boys' team topped Beach FC Fire, 2-0.
-- Walter Gabriel