Last week was a wonderfully busy week for soccer. At the international level, FIFA held its draw and by most accounts, the U.S. Mens’ Team fared well in Group C with opponents England, Algeria, and Slovenia. Mexico fared less well and will go against France, Uruguay and host South Africa in the first round. Competition starts next June and commences with the World Cup Final on July 11. Coming off last June’s stunning second place finish in FIFA’s Confederations Cup final, expectation s for the U.S. Mens Team are high.
At the other end of the player career spectrum, local AYSO youth soccer continues to thrive. Over Thanksgiving weekend, the league sent 22 teams off to various regional tournaments, coordinated by volunteer Jeff Safrit. Results continue to dribble in; so far the best report is the boys’ U10 group who trekked to the Huntington Beach “turkey tournament” and brought home fourth (Coach Ayala), second (Coach Bordal), and championship medallions. Gavin Hulsman and Jacque Monrose coached the first place team.
In Santa Monica, last weekend was the busiest of the season for AYSO’s 1,500 players with opening playoff rounds for girls and boys in U10, U12 and U14 divisions. Hundreds of adult volunteers coordinated a total of 109 games. Most players dream of a fabulous playoffs performance and here is a small, random smattering of what happened with some teams in GU10 and BU12. On Saturday, Coach Martha Hertzberg’s Orange Crushers (GU10) fell behind 3-0 and with 12 minutes left rallied with three goals to tie the game. They then scored with a minute left in overtime to win. Player Ellie Kroskrity paced the Crushers’ come from behind win with a “hat trick” three goals. The Crushers lost their next playoff game, only to bounce back and win their third 1-0. Having lost all their regular season games except the last, the resilient Orange Crushers are having a great playoffs run. Also on Sunday U10 player Rosie Delamora scored a hat trick for Coach Jeff Napier’s Sparks.
In boys U12, Coach Chris Byrne’s team fell behind 2-0 at half, and then player Ethan Leah scored a second half hat trick for a 3-2 win. More hat tricks: player Marcos Santiago scored three of his team’s six goals for Green Peppers, coached by J.P. Brozyna and Jorge Castillo. Playing for The Revolution, striker Andrew Moran scored three goals on Sunday.
On defense, the BU12 Iron Wolves have had a long a tough season with more then their share of lop sided defeats, all the more opportunity for Wolf goalie Jorge Arroyo to hone his amazing keeper skills. Although his team lost on Sunday, the acrobatic Arroyo put on “world cup level” show of one blocked shot after another.
Which, of course, serves as a reminder that every World Cup player started as a child playing on a community pitch. Take U.S. great Landon Donovan. He grew up in nearby Redlands and played in numerous regional youth tournaments, including some on the roster of the Santa Monica AYSO.
Contact Dave Quick