> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
The preliminary stages of the Indiana State Cup, Presidents Cup and Challenge Cup were held at various locations during the weekend and featured delight and heartbreak in varying measures for Southern Indiana sides.
The performance of the weekend came courtesy of Southern Indiana United U17 Renegade, which went through its Challenge Cup preliminary bracket with a 100 percent record and reached the final stages for the second successive year.
Jonathon Eade's charges, which comprise players from six different local high schools, dismissed SEI United 6-1on Saturday before overcoming Three Lions FC 1-0 and Evansville 2-0 on Sunday.
They will now move onto finals weekend, which takes place from June 8-10 at Lawrence Soccer Complex in Indianapolis.
SIU's two other Challenge Cup participants just missed out on joining Renegade.
U12 Revolution, coached by Robert Stevens, won their first two games against Carmel FC (2-0) and FWUSA Citadel (4-2), but lost to eventual Bracket B winner Pike Indy Burn (8-0).
Russ Corby's U14 Storm, meanwhile, beat FWSC '98 Weiss 3-0 in its Saturday opener, and chalked up another win against Fort Wayne Fever (4-0). However, they missed out on a place at finals weekend with a narrow 2-1 loss to Carmel FC on Sunday.
In the Presidents Cup, a middle-tier competition between the State and Challenge Cup levels now in its second year, U16 Net-Surfers came close to securing a finals berth when finishing runner-up in its four-team bracket.
Coach Gary Tanner's girls, currently ranked No. 10 in Indiana by SoccerInCollege.com, recorded a 6-5 victory over SWISA Flame in a preliminary game held two weeks ago. At the weekend, they added a 1-0 victory against South Central SCSA but lost to bracket winners USF Real from East-Central Indiana by a narrow 1-0 margin.
“USF Real scored in the first five minutes, and our defense quickly adapted to their style of play, shutting them down for the remainder of the match,” said Tanner. “We hit the goalpost multiple times, but were unable to put one in.”
Unfortunately, only the two bracket winners in their section progress, playing off in a straight final. Despite the result, Tanner said he was delighted the team's performance in the preliminary stages.
“Just as I had hoped, we peaked at the perfect time,” said Tanner. “Our competition was very evenly matched, and the girls persevered through the weekend combating high temperatures, fatigue and missing a couple of teammates to prior commitments.
“Their level of play was spot-on, combining possession and smart soccer, quickly adapting to the style of play of their opponents.”
There was also disappointment for fancied Southern Indiana United U15 Strikers, who were eliminated in the bracket stages of the Presidents Cup after a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Westfield Select and a 1-1 tie with NWI United.
U13 Thunder, meanwhile, lost its first game to Fusion '99 by a 2-0 scoreline but beat All-Star/Rangers PFC in its three-team bracket.
The State Cup, Indiana's top-tier competition, saw one local representative in the shape of Net-Surfers '94.
The girls, coached by Walter Iglesias, had lost their first game in the tough U18 section, featuring 16 of the state's best teams, against Evansville SC 4-2 over Derby Weekend. They rounded out on Saturday with defeats to FC Pride and Columbus Express.
Kentucky State Cup champs kicked out
The Kentucky State Open Cup preliminary stages take place in Owensboro this weekend and they feature many Southern Indiana players.
However, probably the biggest story surrounding this year's competition has occurred before this weekend's play even takes place.
Six-time state champion Javanon '94, featuring southern Indiana trio Jordan Vejar, Matt Kelecy and Nick Blackwell, has been ejected from the U18 tournament for fielding a suspended player last week in a preliminary game against United 1996 International.
The game, which took place at Collegiate Fields in Louisville last Thursday to avoid a conflict with May 26 graduation ceremonies, saw Javanon thrash their opponents 11-1, with the three locals contributing by each collecting an assist and helping anchor balanced defensive and attacking play.
However, Kentucky Youth Soccer Association later disqualified Javanon '94 for fielding a player, Kentucky's 2011 Mr. Soccer John Manga, who was supposedly ineligible due to a suspension picked up at last year's U.S. Youth Soccer regional championship.
His red card against Grand Rapids Crew of Michigan in their 2-1 semifinal defeat followed through to the first game of this year's state tournament, unbeknownst to the club.
Since that carding, Javanon' 94 has been involved in the US Youth Soccer National League, with Manga missing the first four games.
Javanon is appealing the ejection and expects a decision imminently. KYSA had not provided a comment on the issue at the time of going to press.
Meanwhile, the weekend's State Open Cup will see no greater representation from the area than Mockingbird's U15 boys.
The team includes five Southern Indiana players: Tyler McGeorge, Parker Davidenkoff and Henok Jones (Floyd Central); Andrew Kennedy (Lanesville); and Grant Hollkamp (Collegiate).
The boys face a tough task to make it to the semifinal and final rounds in Bowling Green on June 2-3 as they have been drawn against United 1996 and Lexington FC, last year's finalists.
Lexington FC in particular will be a major obstacle, as they have won the past two State Cups and are favored to win a third.