Lehigh Valley United 97 secured a spot in the U18 boys semifinals with a lopsided win while Lower Merion SC came up short in their bid to advance in the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships in Frisco, Texas on Thursday.
Evan Vare had a first half hat trick to lead Lehigh Valley in a must-win game, and added a fourth goal to his haul in the second half. Steven Gaber and Tyler Madeira both had second half braces to spoil Ohio club OP Green’s day.
Vare, who led Central Bucks East to an unbeaten season and state high school title last fall, has six goals on this trip after scoring six goals in the regionals.
Lehigh finished Group A play with a 2-1-0 record and six points while scoring 11 goals and conceding three. They’ll play Group B winner Santa Barbara SC on Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. The final will be played at 10 a.m. Eastern Time on Sunday.
Group A winner FC Golden State will play Arlington Impact in the other semifinal. Games will be streamed on U.S. Youth Soccer’s YouTube channel.
Lower Merion fall to McLean
In need of a win and goals to keep hope alive of advancing to the semifinal, the Lower Merion SC Sabertooth Rats fell short for the third straight day in a loss to Virginia club McLean 00 Green.
McLean scored a pair of goals seven minutes apart in the first half - Yassine Elkahloun headed home a long ball and Jeff Bisset hammered home a pinpoint cross - and their defense did just enough to hold off the Rats for the 2-1 win.
The Rats made things interesting in stoppage time when Evan Tracy pounced on a turnover near the 18-yard box and fired a bullet that beat the keeper far post. Jacobe Sandcroft’s long run set up the corner kick that eventually led to the goal.
Lower Merion exits the championship empty handed with three losses, but the results didn’t tell the whole story of a team that showed well - players like Timothy O’Hara, Sandcroft, Tracy and goalkeeper Luke Smith caught my eye - and simply refused to give up at the end.
McLean clinched a spot in the semifinals with the win and will be joined by Group A winner Chicago Fire Academy Raiders, which topped the group with nine points.