From the sideline, Phil and Michelle Ingraham hoped.

They just never expected the spring dreams of their three soccer-playing children — ages 13, 15, 17 — would be fulfilled at the same time.

As dozens of Maine families with players from 14 teams made their way to West Virginia this week for the US Youth Soccer Region I tournament, so did the Ingrahams of Cumberland.

They stuffed the back of the family sport utility vehicle high with duffel bags filled with cleats and shinguards.

They swung up through Niagara Falls, to check that off the list, then made a stop in Ohio for the older son’s college orientation. Finally, the family vacation headed farther south to West Virginia, for the culmination of this year’s soccer tournaments.

Only problem is, as games begin today the Ingrahams find themselves with a bit of a scheduling snafu: Matti, 18, plays at 8 a.m.; Ben, 13, plays at 8 a.m.; and, you guessed it, Sarah, 15, plays at 8 a.m.

Three different fields. Two parents. One classic dilemma of a soccer family trying to squeeze it all in.

“Divide and conquer,” said Phil Ingraham. “We really need to be three parents.”

“I was really happy when they all made it. It’s been a good year and it’ll never really be the same with Matti going off to school,” said Michelle Ingraham. “I never really signed up to be a soccer mom. But it’s funny, we’re the epitome of the soccer parents. You find yourself doing the silliest things.”

Phil and Michelle both played high school soccer, but they never pushed the kids. Somehow, they became one big soccer clan.

It was around noontime on a Saturday in mid-May when Sarah’s U15 Seacoast United team kicked off in the state final and won. One down.

Later that day, Matti, whose Maine Coast United team had for years been edged out in the final, played on the U18 team that won the championship in the last year they’ll all play together. Two down.

Two weeks later, young Ben took the field with his Maine Coast United U13 team, which played through thunderstorms and muggy heat to pull out a win. Three down.

“That completed the trifecta,” said Phil. “The whole time you never really expect it. You want them to win, of course, but never really expect it all to happen at the same time.

“We looked at each other, ‘OK, I guess we’re going to West Virginia.’“

Upon arrival, Sarah joined the team’s parent manager to stay in Charleston, W.Va., about an hour east of the field complex.

“This is where all of the other soccer families take the Ingrahams on their back,” said Phil. “We’ve been doing this all year.”

Mom and dad, along with the two boys, got assigned a room in Ashland, Ky., about 30 minutes west of the complex.

That’s just fine, said Sarah.

“We came last year with just me, and it really wasn’t that great,” she said. “Now that we’re all going, it’s more fun. It’s more worth the trip. We’ll watch movies, listen to our iPods, sleep.”

Older brother Matti, a former Greely standout, who stopped for his orientation at Miami of Ohio University, said he’s just happy to be able to compete this year. His team was edged out for years by a rival club until this spring.

“I’ve really been waiting three or four years to get here,” he said. “It’ll be a really good experience.”

His parents’ effort is not wasted on him.

“I’m really appreciative. They drive us everywhere,” he said. “Logistically, it must be really hard for them, but it’s cool they support us.

“I know they’re going to miss someone’s game (today), but they won’t tell us who yet. It’s not too big of a deal. There’ll be plenty of other games.”

Phil and Michelle know that’s true. Each team is guaranteed three games over the weekend, more if they reach the championship round.

“It pulls you in a lot of different directions,” said Michelle. “But we always seem to make it work. You don’t know how you’re going to do it, but you do.

“I don’t know how, but I’ll be at all three of those games.”

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

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