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Soccer teams finding summer success

Coming fresh off the excitement and fervor of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, what better way to keep the soccer hubbub high than to applaud four Hastings traveling soccer teams that recently won their leagues?

Traveling soccer teams, as part of the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association, play between eight to 12 regular season games, about two a week beginning in late May and continuing throughout June and early July. Teams also usually practice once or twice a week as well as playing in weekend tournaments to keep their skills sharp.

Players, coaches, and parents put in vast amounts of time to traveling soccer, so when the season pays off, everyone is excited.

Four Hastings soccer teams, the girls U15 C3 team coached by Howard Rushton; the boys U17 C3 team coached by Carlin Bunting; the girls U12 C2 team coached by Jerry Bezdicek, Tim Sack and Angela Zeyen; and the girls U12 C3 team coached by Lisa Leifeld all won their leagues. This accomplishment brings these teams one step closer to the state tournament which will begin this coming weekend, July 23-29.

The girls U15 team coached by Howard Rushton received a bye from district play and advance straight to the state tournament. The girls lost only one game all season and placed second at the Burnsville Firecup Tournament this summer. The girls are all very excited for the chance to play in the state tournament. On Sunday night, July 17, the players and their parents got together to celebrate their season and get energized for the games ahead. The girls tie-dyed t-shirts and the parents made large signs and banners to cheer on their daughters.

Carlin Bunting, coach of the boys U17 team that her brother, Lucas, plays on, said her team just qualified on Sunday, July 17, for the state tournament after winning a qualifying district game. The boys went undefeated in regular season play and only lost one game in tournament play all year.

"This season has been all about heart and commitment," Bunting said. "We have come from behind, kept leads, and kept our heads on straight when the calls weren't going our way. All in all I think a perfect way to end this season is a state championship. These kids deserve it."

Angela Zeyen had similar things to say about her team, the girls U12 C2 team. The team played one division higher than they ever had and still won their league.

"To win the division was a huge accomplishment and a great testament to how hard these girls have worked this season," Bezdicek, one of the other U12 C2 coaches said. "I remember playing in the River City Rumble tournament here in Hastings during torrential rains and not once did I hear one of the girls complain about the weather. I think if you would have asked them during the game what they thought about the rain, they would have answered 'what rain?'"

The girls U12 C3 team also had a bye out of playoffs this past weekend and were gearing up for their regional game that took place Wednesday, July 20. If they won this game, they will advance to the state tournament. This team only lost one game during their regular season play and scored 23 goals all season.

All of the coaches said they are very proud of the hard work and determination their teams and players have put into the season.

The state tournament begins this weekend in Lakeville for groups U11-U13, in Lakeland for U14 and U15, and in Coon Rapids for U16-U19.