Local youth soccer teams make final rounds of state tourney
March 2, 2012
The Newport Lightning Cheetahs girls 11 and under soccer team took second place in the Washington Youth Soccer Founders Cup championship game played Feb. 12, while the Newport FC Warriors boys 12 and under team played in the state semifinal game Feb. 11.
Both teams have players and coaches with deep links to Newcastle.
The Washington Youth Soccer Founders Cup is the select level tournament with top select teams vying for the No. 1 spot from across the state.
Coached by former Newcastle resident Brent Systma with players from Newcastle and the Newcastle area, the Newport Lightning Cheetahs may be the first recreational team to play in a Founders Cup final.
Playing in their fourth year together, the Cheetahs began outpacing their regular recreational competition and petitioned to play in the North Puget Sound League — the region’s main select league.
After wrapping up a successful 10-1-1 regular season, the Cheetahs entered the state cup tournament, winning all three of their bracket games against Seattle United, Kent United and Mercer Island FC.
That successful run set up a quarterfinal match against Pacific FC from Yelm. In a dramatic overtime finish, the Cheetahs got three goals in extra time to win 5-2 and earn a berth in the state semifinal weekend at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.
Against a strong Crossfire team from Redmond, the Cheetahs jumped out to an early lead in the semifinal match, scoring a goal in the first two minutes.
They padded the lead to 5-0 before fending off a comeback attempt by Crossfire, winning the semifinal, 5-2, and a showdown with the tournament’s leading team — CK United from Kitsap. With a packed sideline of parents and club supporters cheering them on the Cheetahs lost the final game, 2-0, but earned the distinction of being perhaps the only recreational team to have played in a Founders Cup final.
Led by coach Bud Deccio, the Newport FC Warriors feature players from Newcastle and the Newcastle area (including a number of former Newcastle baseball club players) and assistant coach and Newcastle resident Brian Curl.
In their first year as a select team, the Warriors played in the North Puget Sound League’s first division against some of the top teams in the state. The final four Bu12 teams in the state tournament were all from the league.
After wrapping up a 5-2-5 record in the division, the Warriors started their bracket play in the state cup with wins against Edmonds and University Place — including a snow-delayed midweek night game under the lights at Newport Hills Park to reach the round of 16 elimination games against Vancouver Timbers. Playing again on their home field at Newport Hills Park in a physical match that included two yellow cards and a direct red card ejection, the Warriors battled to a 4-0 win and a home quarterfinal matchup against Storm King from Kitsap.
Down 2-0 late in the second half, the Warriors overcame the Storm King defense by notching a pair of goals in the final minutes to send the match to overtime. Still tied 2-2 after the first overtime, the Warriors knocked in late goals to settle the match, 4-2, and earn a berth in the semifinal weekend at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.
In the semifinal, the Warriors faced Eastside and league-rival Lake Hills Synergy in Starfire Stadium.
The Warriors played a strong game and at the half were knotted 0-0 with Lake Hills. Late in the second half, Lake Hills scored a goal, and with the Warriors chasing the game scored a second.
The Warriors mounted a comeback effort, but in injury time Lake Hills scored a final goal to earn a 3-0 win.
What to know
Learn more about the Newport Lightning Cheetahs and the Newport FC Warriors teams at the Newport Youth Soccer website at https://newportsoccer.org.