Dave Quick, Reporter-at-Large
While the news from the World Cup has not been so great for fans of the U.S. National Team, one local youth tournament team just completed a stellar season. Santa Monica’s American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) Boys Under 14 Saints began their season last winter with an undefeated 6-0-1 run through the Area P playoffs, culminating with a championship victory over West LA at John Adams Middle School. The Saints advanced to AYSO Section playoffs where they won two games and lost one.
With minor roster changes, the Saints next embarked upon a 14 tournament winter-spring schedule where they earned podium finishes at eleven meets. The Saints won seven of the tournaments outright. In total, the Saints played 62 games and went 49-9-4. They outscored their tournament team opponents by an impressive 269-54.
Leading the offensive assault were strikers, Justin Jenkins, Jose Arriaga-Ramaz and Theo Benjamin, a formidable trio that scored 175 goals utilizing remarkable speed, accurate passing and aggressive shooting. The Saints midfielders – Matthew Ginsberg, Christian Marcial, Alex Hartung, Eric Santos, Julien Honore, Marcos Vivero and Ricky Sotoj – dominated possession and also scored a total of 77 goals. Defenders Logan Minium, Hugo Hernandez, Jamie Levinson and Kevin Barahona consistently challenged and beat the opponents to the ball. Goalkeeper Jason Roussos was captain of the defense and he impressively defended shots on goal, including penalties and corner kicks. The defense recorded 25 shut-outs in 62 tournament games. The Saints were coached by Harry Rousso and assistant Jose Sobrinho. Reflecting the team’s balance, 14 of 15 players scored one or more goals in tournament play.
With arrival of fall, AYSO tournament teams disband and the league reorganizes for regular season play September-December. There are many fine youth sports leagues. AYSO is distinguished by open registration (all comers are welcome as long as there is room in their age division), balanced teams, positive coaching and good sportsmanship. An all- volunteer organization, AYSO Region 20 is Santa Monica’s largest youth sports league fielding well over 1,500 players each fall and AYSO is a regular feeder into the Santa Monica High School soccer program. Ages for the AYSO fall league range from 4-18 years, both boys and girls are welcome. For sign-up/volunteer information visit www.ayso20.org or call 310.451.6711. Registration forms can be downloaded from the website or forms can be picked up at Kramer Sporting Goods at 1745 Ocean Park Blvd. in Santa Monica (just east of John Adams Middle School).