Jun. 26—Even though the first two games of pool play haven't gone their way, the Owensboro United Soccer Club 2009 Boys are enjoying their run to the U.S. Youth Soccer Midwest Regional Championships this weekend in Westfield, Indiana.
Competing in the 13U division, Owensboro United narrowly fell 2-1 to North Shore United (Wisconsin) on Friday before dropping a 7-0 loss to Liverpool FC Michigan Central on Saturday. With one more game remaining on the slate, coach Alex Tungate and his squad are looking for a chance to represent Kentucky well while improving at the same time.
"We're trying to represent our state, and we know there are a lot of people in Owensboro supporting us," Tungate said by phone. "Even though we're not able to move on to the semifinals, we still want to end on a high note and show that we're not that far off from any of these teams.
"We have this experience we can use to build for next year. I'm not sure there's ever been a time this group has lost two games in a row, but it's a different level and it's good for them. You want to win every game you play, but they're 12, 13 years old, so hopefully they can use it as a motivator."
And, Tungate added, the club is breaking new ground just by being there.
Earlier this month, the 2009 boys captured the state championship while competing at the highest division in the state — something that hasn't been done in the near-three decades of existence.
"The club's been around 28, 29 years, and that had never happened before," Tungate said. "They're young so they don't quite have an understanding of the significance of what they're doing yet, but I think that state tournament run was a great example of what they've been able to accomplish and what they ca do moving forward as they get older.
"I think they're only getting better, and now there are players outside of Owensboro who are getting interested. It'll build on itself."
This season was also the first time the Owensboro United 13Us played in an 11-on-11 setting. Seeing such high-caliber competition — including programs that can draw more players from big metro areas like Milwaukee or Detroit — will only prove beneficial, Tungate estimates.
"The team we played (Friday), the first-place team in our pool, we were probably better than them in that particular game and they got a break here and there," he said. "The Liverpool team we played, they were very, very good. I think, for the boys, it's good that they're seeing multiple levels of players.
"It's clear that some of these teams are at a different level than we our developmentally, and they're able to do some things tactically that others just haven't learned yet. It'll pay off for them because maybe they'll play these teams again, hopefully next year if we can make it back."
Owensboro United wraps up its regional schedule Sunday morning with a matchup against Fusion Soccer Club (Minnesota).