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Texas-sized records shattered at National Championships
by Paul Kennedy, July 30th, 2008 2:47PM
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Never before has a state association had more than six teams win titles at the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships, and never before has an individual club won more than two titles in the same year. Those records were shattered at this year's National Championships in North Little Rock, Ark.

North Texas set a record when teams won seven of the 12 championships. The Dallas Texans went home with four winners -- the U-15, U-16 and U-17 girls and U-16 boys -- to give them a record 10 championships -- all achieved since 2003.

Andromeda won a pair of boys titles when it captured the U-17 and U-18 championships, while Solar was finally successful in its quest to win a national championship when it won the U-19 McGuire Cup.

In addition, two other Dallas area teams -- U-15 Solar Red and U-18 Sting -- finished second, giving North Texas teams in nine of the 12 finals held Saturday and Sunday in North Little Rock.

The Texans' U-16 and U-17 girls teams were making their third straight appearance at the National Championships. The U-16s won despite the loss of Alexis Harris, who was representing the USA at the Concacaf U-17 Girls Championship in Trinidad.

The Texans girls program, which has sent 11 teams to the nationals in the last three years, overcame the loss of girls coaching director Kenny Medina, who took a similar position as rival club Sting after last year's finals.

He returned to the National Championships as coach of the U-18 Sting, which included 18 of the 20 players from last year's Texans team.

"This is a huge day for in the Texans organization, knowing that we are the only club that has won four national championships in a year," said Texans director Hassan Nazari, the former Iran national team right back. "That also makes it a very exciting day for the everyone including the players, coaches, parents, everyone with the Texans really."

Andromeda's U-18s repeated as national champions, while the U-17s overcame the disappointment of a loss in the 2007 regional final and won the 2008 national championship.

In group play, the U-18s needed two late goals to earn a 2-2 tie with Shattuck-St. Mary's -- a Minnesota boarding school with an elite soccer program -- but they cruised to a 3-0 victory in the rematch.

The Andromeda U-17s' final was a much more tense affair. They were holding on to a 1-0 lead over Ohio's Everest Soccer Club, mindful that they had conceded a stoppage-time goal to Everest that resulted in a 1-1 tie in group play. But a strong defensive effort allowed Andromeda to win and become just the third boys club to win two national championships in the same year.

Solar's McGuire Cup victory marked the end of its run that saw it reached the National Championships four times in six years. In 2005 and 2006, Solar reached the final only to lose to Arsenal FC. The Southern California club, the winner again in 2007, didn't enter a team in 2008.

"I've heard a lot of people say, if you are going to win one, this was the big one to win," said Kevin Smith, Solar's director of coaching. "So maybe it was meant to be all along. I didn't think so at the time, but now I do. I'll be old and I'll be sitting on my rocking chair one day and I'll be looking at this [team autographed game ball] and remember this day. It wasn't given to us. We had to earn this all the way. It wasn't given to us on a plate. They had a lot of disappointments but they kept fighting and clawing. They were very confident today and they have been confident for a lot of years. We just got pinned to the post a few times. This is special to me and I will treasure this for the rest of my life."

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