This past week has featured a number of incoming Badgers reaching the biggest stage in US youth soccer. Current Badger defender Catie Sessions along with incoming freshmen Cara Walls, Olivia Tehan and Carly Vogel have seen their respective teams advance to the US Youth National Championship Series.
After defeating Elm Grove Premier 6-0 in the Wisconsin State Cup Championship game, the FC Milwaukee U-18 Blue, featuring Walls, Tehan and Vogel, found themselves en route to the Midwest Region II Tournament held at the US Youth Sports Complex in Appleton, Wis.
Only 926 out of the over 10,000 youth teams across the nation advance to this level by winning their respective age group in a state cup championship. The regional championships consist of four pool groups divided within a given age. Each pool features four teams.
After three days of play, the U-18 Blue found themselves atop Pool B with six points and a 2-1-0 record. Defeating the KCFC Intensity, 2-1, in the semifinals put them one step closer to a Region II Championship title. In the championship game FC Milwaukee emerged with a 3-1 victory and a regional championship. This honor will take them west to the National Championship Series held in Phoenix, Ariz., July 27-31. The U-18 Blue will be one of only 60 teams to reach this competitive level of play.
Also attending the National Championship Series is current Badger defender Catie Sessions. Competing at the U-19 age level, Session's Minnesota Inferno advanced through pool play with an undefeated record and a perfect nine points. By defeating Toro Elite in the semifinals, 1-0, the Inferno secured their spot in the Region II Championship match. A 2-0 win over Mallorca ensured their trip to the national championships where only 12 teams will be crowned a victor.
Fellow incoming freshman Nikki Greenhalgh has also been busy helping her high school, Novi, win its second straight Michigan High School Athletic Association State Championship. After defeating Grosse Pointe South 2-1 in the semifinal match by contributing both a goal and an assist, Greenhalgh scored the lone goal in the state championship game. Her tally in the 18th minute was all Novi needed to defeat Troy and give her school its fifth championship in the last seven years. Greenhalgh, a team captain, was named to the all-state Dream Team for her contributions this season.
The US Youth Soccer National Championship Series provides more than 10,000 teams from US Youth Soccer's 55 State Associations the opportunity to showcase their abilities against the best in the nation while emphasizing teamwork, discipline and fair play. The yearlong competition begins with over 185,000 players in the US Youth Soccer State Championships. These champions and selected wildcard teams, through US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues, advance to compete in one of four the US Youth Soccer Regional Championships. Champions (U-14 through U-19) from each regional event advance to the National Championships.