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Youth Soccer: Brainerd teams compete

A number of Brainerd teams competed in the USA Cup, which is the largest youth soccer tournament in the northern hemisphere and includes more than 1,000 teams and more than 14,000 soccer players from 17 countries.

A few of the Brainerd Blast players were played with the Norwegian teams in both the USA Cup Weekend Tournament and the weeklong event.

The U14 boys from Norway lost to the eventual Super Team Champions in the semifinals.

U14 boys with combined players from Norway and Brainerd won the Gold Cup in the Flight B playoff championship against New Prague 5-2. Sam Alcock buried two goals. Fellow Brainerd Blast players were Tim Whiteman, Seth Braam, Jarod Lacy, Zach Henke and Andrew Wasniewski.

U15 LAYSA UNA Takedown girls won the silver flight championship 1-0 thanks to a penalty kick by Ally Smith. The girls were coached by Grant Gmeinder and Kurt Waters.

Shayla Makowski, Maddie Genz and Ariana Jensen joined nine Bemidji girls to comprise the U12 Blast. They lost to the eventual champions in the quarterfinals.

U16 girls from Norway finished second in the gold flight.

A combined Brainerd and Norway U16 team lost 4-0 to Iceland in the quarterfinals. Iceland outscored all its opponents by a goal differential of 51-1. Kate Smith, Brooke Watland, Angela Lacy, Meghan Lacy, Sydney McConkey and Abby Thelen represented Brainerd.

U13 LAYSA UNA Takedown girls advanced to the semifinals of the silver flight losing in a shootout.

U12 boys, coached by Zach Hoard, advanced to the quarterfinals.

The U10 boys and girls played a number of close games and were coached by Elle Adams, Jayme Klecker and Grant Gmeinder.

The highlight of the USA cup experience is the opening ceremonies which included , Governor Mark Dayton, skydivers, fireworks, a parade of countries and music. The participants and crowd took part in a record setting "Hand Shake for Peace", which was led by the U16 Norwegian girls team and U16 Brainerd Blast guest players.

Earlier in the tournament season, Brainerd's U11 boys won the Blaine North American Challenge and the U11 girls finished second in the NSC All American Cup in Blaine.