The Scottsdale Blackhawks know the phrase “close but no cigar.” They know it all too well. Last year, the Blackhawks were one win away from winning the National League and earning a berth in the US Youth Soccer National Championships, but they dropped the final game of the season to FC Dallas and fell to third. Then, in the Region IV tournament, after a dominating group performance, it lost to La Roca Premier in the quarterfinals.
But this year, coach Adam Burke says they weren’t going to let that happen again.
“The disappointment turned positive pretty quickly,” says Burke. “Though those losses were disappointing, it showed us that we’re right there with the best in the country. It taught us that, with a little bit more work, we can play with anybody and everybody.”
And, he says, that was the motivation for this year’s success.
Scottsdale won the National League this time around and earned their fourth Arizona State Cup title. They enter the US Youth Soccer Region IV Championships with a spot at Nationals already guaranteed, but Burke says they are focused on taking home the regional crown.
“We want to represent ourselves well,” he says, “and we know we have a very tough group.”
The Blackhawks sit in Group D, along with fellow Arizona powerhouse FC Phoenix and a pair of strong California squads. Scottsdale and FC Phoenix have already played four times this year, and Santa Clara Sporting is grouped with Blackhawks for the second year in a row.
For Scottsdale, look for Sam Gleadle and Nicolas Harguindeguy to be key offensive threats. Luis Lopez and Tyler Dial are midfielders who control the run of play, and Burke says if the two of them are working well, they’re a hard team to beat. The Blackhawks are also unique in that they have two starting goalkeepers: Phillip Mourikes and Chase Bishov. “I trust either one of them, from the group stages to the championship game,” says Burke.
So for a squad that is already bound for Nationals, is it hard to get motivated for the Region IV tournament?
“Not at all,” says Burke. “This is something we know we can achieve.”
Scottsdale Blackhawks (Group D) – Looking to earn their first regional title
FC Phoenix (Group D) – Winners of the Far West Regional League also had great performances at the Sereno College Showcase and Dallas Cup this spring
West Coast (Group A) – The Cal South State Cup champs also won the Far West Regional League last fall
Heat FC (Group B) – Last year’s runners up, Heat won the President’s Day Tournament and the Las Vegas College Showcase on back-to-back weekends in February before winning Nevada State Cup in April.
Santa Clara Sporting (Group D) – Surf Cup finalists will likely have their biggest challenge in group play.
Players to Watch
Luis Lopez, Scottsdale Blackhawks – Region IV ODP
Nicolas Harguindeguy, Scottsdale Blackhawks – Region IV ODP
Jose Hernandez, F, FC Phoenix – Opponents know of his offensive prowess
Moises Rodriguez, Strikers – Region IV ODP, National Team Pool
Rubio Mendez, WSM Galacticos – Region IV ODP, National Team Pool
Alejandro Segovia, WSM Galacticos – Region IV ODP, National Team Pool
Ether Bustos, West Coast – Region IV ODP
Guillermo Leme, Sparta – Region IV ODP
Peter Martinez, Sparta – Region IV ODP
Tyson Fox, Boise Nationals – Region IV ODP
Carter Perry, Boise Nationals – Region IV ODP