Local youth soccer team headed to national championship

PITT COUNTY, NC (WITN) - A youth sports team here in the east is set to play a starring role in a national championship.

The Pitt-Greenville Soccer Association, also known as the Stars, will send its U14 Boys Premier Team to the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships in a few weeks.

Monday, friends and family celebrated the team's qualification for the championships after a win in the U.S. Youth Soccer Southern Regionals.

"We got in our groove. We started to beat, like everybody," said Ryan Davis, the team's striker, who won the MVP Award at the Southern Regionals.

The players come from across the east to play on PGSA's Premier team.

"What we did wasn't easy cause we were playing against some of the top competition in the nation and in the south region," said Walker Barnes, the team's goalie.

Barnes' dad was there when his son and his teammates got their medals. He wasn't surprised by the win even if it does set a new precedent.

"They're the first team ever from the east to win the South Region," said Ken Barnes.

The team's head coach, Mark Gibson says this is uncharted territory for PGSA, but his players are already back on the field and practicing for the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships.

"If we can win a few more games, that means you're the best in the country," said Gibson.

His players, like midfielder Ariel Nunez are hopeful and say it wasn't luck that got them this far.

"Everyone has that work ethic which really goes far in the long run," said Nunez.

The Pitt-Greenville Soccer Association started more than 30 years ago, but coach Gibson says the sport still doesn't get the attention that other sports get in the east.

Ken Barnes says a win in the Youth National Championships could change that.

"The boys are confident, we've already shown we can play with anybody from any state," said Barnes, "Why not us?"

The PGSA U14 Boys Premier team will head to Overland Park, Kansas for the Youth National Championships which begin July, 22nd.