Billiken Trio Ready for U.S. Youth Soccer Nationals
Three rising sophomores on the Saint Louis University women's soccer team - Maddy Bush, Julia Merlo and Abbey Stock - are members of the St. Louis Scott Gallagher Green squad that won the U.S. Youth Soccer U19 Region II crown in June. They and their teammates will compete for the national title in South Carolina beginning July 25.
Merlo submitted this regional recap and a look at the upcoming national tournament.
Our team, St. Louis Scott Gallagher, trained for four weeks prior to State Cup, where we played our rival team from St. Louis, JB Uphoff, and won. After winning this preliminary game, we advanced to the Region II tournament, and our journey began.
The regional tournament was in Saginaw, Mich., and was filled with the best competition from the Midwest. Just being there competing against the other teams is a great way to gain experience, along with continuing to compete against the best of the best outside of the NCAA.
First we played the Michigan Hawks, a team we have played numerous times throughout our years in the Midwest Regional League. We also played them in the 2009 Regionals and beat them 1-0. This year, we won 3-0.
We then played Carmel, Ind. We did not have much experience with this team in the past, but we knew they were going to be tough competition for us. It was a lot of fun to play against this team because Ralph Richards, the Carmel head coach, is our new assistant coach at Saint Louis University. We ended up beating them 2-0.
Next we played KCFC in the quarterfinals, and this game was a bit of a shock to our fans and to us as well. Both teams had won their bracket and would advance to the semifinals, so the outcome of the game did not affect either team. We were expecting this game to be a heated competition because we have developed a strong rivalry with KCFC. Our Gallagher team came ready to play, and we ended up winning 5-1.
Our team continued on to the semifinals to play the Kentucky Mockingbirds, the team that beat us in the semis last year. It was obvious we were looking for revenge. We won 3-0.
Our opponent in the championship game would be either FC Milwaukee, the 2011 national champion, or KCFC. It turned out to be KCFC, and we were ready to play yet another tough and mentally challenging game.
Making it to the regional final is a huge accomplishment, but we didn't want our road to end there. We came out ready to play, and each one of our players contributed in this game. We got two goals in the first half, which really helped us with our confidence and helped us relax more and play our game. At halftime we knew KCFC was going to come out firing at us, and they caught us on our heels in the beginning of the second half and got a quick goal. Not long after, we fought back and scored to make the lead 3-1. We knew we just had to manage the game at this point, and we did that and WON!
The journey that Abbey Stock, Maddy Bush and Julia Merlo encountered was one they will never forget. After winning the regional, their Scott Gallagher team is advancing to play in the 2012 national tournament in Rock Hill, South Carolina. They are extremely excited to be able to play against the best teams in the nation and know that it will be a great experience for them.
The team leaves Monday morning. There is a ceremony for all the teams on Tuesday, and games begin Wednesday! The game schedule is as follows:
Wednesday, July 25, 9:30 a.m. • Scott Gallagher vs. Southern California Blues Dodge
Friday, July 27, 9:30 a.m. • Scott Gallagher vs. Massachusetts Scorpions EliteSunday, July 29, 9:00 a.m. • Final