July 2, 2013
The Santa Clara Sporting 95b Green Team won the U17 US Youth Soccer Far West Regional Tournament (Region IV) held June 17-23rd in Honolulu, Hawaii and were the only NorCal Team to return with the championship hardware. Sporting came back from a 1-2 deficit to score 3 goals in 5 minutes during the second half of the game to win the championship title 4-2 over the Crossfire Team (Washington State Cup Champions).
The story about their road to the championship started with a terrible tragedy on Saturday the 13th while the team was traveling to Hawaii. Santa Clara’s midfielder Rafael Chavez and his mother were traveling to the tournament with the rest of the team, and when they landed in Honololu, they were delivered tragic news that Julio Chavez (Rafa’s older brother) had died in an automobile accident the night before. Return airplane tickets were waiting for Rafa and his mother and they immediatley flew back to California to be with their family.
The tightly knit Sporting 95b Team rallied together and decided they would play the tournament in memory of Julio Chavez, and play every game in their black Sporting away team jerseys no matter how hot the weather (and it was hot and humid in Hawaii).
The 95s compete in a super tough age group and in an interesting note, both the Santa Clara and Crossfire teams that eneded-up in the Championship game advanced 2nd in their respective bracket play early in the tournament. Sporting won their opening game 2-0 over the Pride Predators ’96 team (CO State Champs), then lost a well-fought battle 0-2 against the FRAM B17 Premier Team from SoCal (Far West Regional League champs). Sporting was in a "win or go home" situtation during thier third bracket match against the Rush 96B Nike Team (Hawaii State Champs), then won 4-0 in a super hot and humid 2pm game at the Waipio Soccer Complex. Playing the host Hawaii team in black uniforms at 2pm was not an easy task.
In every tournament there is a big hurdle/game for a team to overcome and it appears the loss to FRAM was the big milestone game after loosing Rafa’s talent prior to the start of the tournament. The team built momentum after the loss from FRAM.
Sporting won their Semi-final game 2-1 over the Las Vegas Premier 96 Black team (Nevada State Cup Champs), then showed true grit and determination in the U17 Finals as they overcame a 1-2 deficit to score 3 goals in 5 minutes to win the championship 4-2. The teams’ goals came from Brad Bumgarner assisted by Danny Galvan, Brad Bumgarner assisted by Nate Petrie, Andres Ochoa assisted by Vince Naples, and Tony Tejeda.
The team qualifies to compete in the US Youth Soccer National Championship held July 23-26 in Overland Park, Kansas.
Congrats to the players, Coach Demitri and all the parents!