Virginia Legacy Soccer Club’s under-17 Elite team advanced to the semifinals of last weekend’s U.S. Youth Soccer Region I Championships in Huntington, W.Va., tying the best finish for a Williamsburg club team in the tournament.
Legacy Elite finished 3-1 overall, including an undefeated performance in group play, where it outscored its three opponents 12-1. Legacy’s run ended with a 5-2 loss to Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania in the semifinals.
A tournament title would have earned Legacy a trip to the national championships in Oklahoma City.
“To get through group play undefeated to advance to the semifinals was a very tough task,” Coach Bobby O’Brien said. “Getting to that point, we were very happy. Even in the semifinal game, we competed well. Overall, to be that close, and where this team has come in the last couple of years … to be one of the top teams in the region and the nation is pretty cool.
“… It fits right into the model that Legacy kind of portrays to all the parents and kids. At younger ages, you may struggle with results, but we’re truly about development and teaching the fundamentals. We tell them that, in time, with all those tools as you develop athletically and the coaching we provide, we’ll put you in a position to utilize the whole toolbox of what you learned and compete at the highest levels. This kind of solidifies that at a national level.”
Region I spans the East Coast from Virginia through Maine and includes 12 states. Those state champions, plus four teams from the Region I Champions League, qualify for the Region I championships.
Legacy, the Virginia State Cup champions, started its tear through Group D with a 3-0 victory over Kirkwood Roma of Delaware. Next was a 3-1 toppling of Maryland’s MSC Falcons.
Needing just a draw to advance, Legacy clinched the group with a 7-0 rout of Vandals Soccer Club of West Virginia.
Lafayette High’s Reeves Trott pioneered the Legacy attack, scoring five goals along with an assist in group play. Kecoughtan High’s Brennen Burton added two goals and three assists, and Jamestown High’s Antonio Gonzalez scored two goals.
“It really started with our togetherness,” Trott said. “We’re able to play with each other, just like pitch and catch in baseball. It’s that simple. Everything was clicking, and we were moving the ball really well.”
The four group winners advanced to Monday’s semifinal round, where Legacy was pitted against Pennsylvania state champion Lehigh Valley.
Legacy went down 2-0 in the first 40 minutes, but rallied to tie things up on a Burton goal in the 60th minute. Lehigh Valley was handed a red card 10 minutes later to put Legacy up a man.
But Lehigh Valley scored on a corner kick shortly after and controlled the pace the rest of the way.
“We were up a man with 20 minutes left and had all the momentum in the world, and they countered,” O’Brien said. “In tournaments like this, set pieces are the ultimate equalizer.”
Lehigh Valley fell 1-0 to Baltimore Celtic Soccer Club of Maryland on Tuesday in the championship match.
The last Virginia Legacy team, even dating back to when it was known as Williamsburg Soccer Club, to advance this far was the under-19 team in 2005.
“It means everything to us,” Trott said. “Hopefully we can go even farther next season. We know we have a lot of talent in the program at the youth level, and we know we’re now role models for the club. I think we’re a great team to look up to. Hopefully we’ll have a lot of other teams go farther.”