LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. -- The Baltimore Spirit is a team on a mission: to finish first in its fourth and final regional tournament.
Brian Bugarin netted two goals and added an assist to lift the Spirit to within one victory of that objective with a 5-0 thrashing of the Greater Boston Bolts yesterday in the Snickers U.S. Youth Soccer Region I boys under-19 semifinals yesterday at Rider University.
Baltimore advanced to today's 9 a.m. championship match against the Colonia (N.J.) Raiders. The Raiders upset the three-time defending regional champ F.C. Delco Demons of Eastern Pennsylvania, 2-1, yesterday with a 5-4 advantage in tie-breaking penalty kicks.
A triumph in this morning's match earns an invitation to the USYS national championships July 28-31 in Blaine, Minn.
Winner of four straight Maryland Cups, the Spirit failed to escape preliminary play in its three previous regional tournaments.
Including three opening round-robin victories Friday and Saturday, Baltimore made a striking departure from its history by outscoring its four opponents, 30-2.
In the 23rd minute yesterday, Matt Nesbitt sent a left-side corner to Mike Barger, who, from the top of the penalty area headed the ball on one hop to Bugarin.
One of six Calvert Hall College graduates on the Spirit, Bugarin knocked a right-footer inside the left post from four yards for a 1-0 lead.
Eighteen minutes later, J. J. Kremer put a right-side cross just beyond the reach of an unmarked Bugarin six yards in front of the goal. Going away from the far post, Mike Henning collected the ball and then cut directly back past defender Stephen Blanchette before drilling the ball point-blank through the legs of goalkeeper Mike Gamsby for a 2-0 advantage.
Frank Scarfield sent a 25-yard shot from the right side just inside the left post with 23 minutes remaining to lift the S.C. Baltimore Stars to a 1-0 decision over the Hulmeville (Pa.) Strikers in the boys U-14 semifinal.
The Stars face the Charles River United Rangers of Boston in today's 9:30 a.m. title match.
Despite goals by Nicole Froman and Shanna Ziegenfuss, the Braddock Road Lightning of Burke, Va., eliminated the Harford United Energizers, 3-2, in penalty kicks in a girls U-15 semifinal.
The Lightning won with a 4-1 penalty kick margin.
In a boys U-15 semifinal, the Syracuse Blitz Magic used a second-half penalty kick to send home the Columbia City United, 2-1. Loren Morgan had Columbia's tally.
The Columbia Darby failed to advance from boys under-16 preliminary play to defend its regional title. The Darby was eliminated with a 2-0 loss to the Penns Forest (Pa.) Scotties Saturday.