South Tahoe Futbol Club U-18 Hawks, U-12 Tough girls soccer teams deliver championships at Come Up For Air
Of the 158 girls and boys teams that competed in the 2016 Come Up For Air soccer tournament, 12 represented the local South Tahoe Futbol Club while another five came from South Tahoe AYSO. All of the local teams were competitive in a variety of age divisions in the event held throughout the South Shore June 18-19.
Five squads made their respective championship matches, and two brought home much-coveted titles. The STFC girls sides Hawks and Tough each delivered championships on their home turf.
SOUTH TAHOE FC U-12 TOUGH girls WIN TALLAC DIVISION CROWN
The STFC Tough, coached by James Nealis, won the title in the girls U-12 Tallac division with four straight shutouts — a victory four years in the making. The girls dominated pool play Saturday with a 7-0 victory against Davis Alliance Italia and a 4-0 win over Ajax United Black.
Sunday was no different, as the Tough got started with a 4-0 win over PHMSA Infinity to advance to the championship match against El Dorado Hills SC Arsenal. El Dorado Hills was nearly as clean as the Tough in the opposing pool, and the local team had to rely on what they do best — settling the ball and maintaining possession.
The Tough’s first goal was a product of all their training. Lea Merrifield settled the ball in the midfield and passed it back to defender Emma Terrell, who sent it up the sideline to Marley Befu — she eventually placed an exceptional cross to Mackenzie Nealis.
Nealis was ready and opportunistic at the far post, and tapped the ball under the goalie to make it 1-0. The second goal came from a set piece near midfield — Jenna Pevenage took a quick shot and that landed in the back of the net, and the Tough was well on its way to winning the hometown tournament.
In 2013, many of the players on the current Tough team participated in their very first CUFA soccer tournament — they were barely 9 years old then, playing against girls mostly a year older. Those same girls took the field this summer at their home tournament for the fourth year in a row, and this time the scorecard looked a little different.
STFC U-18 HAWKS girls CLAIM THIRD CUFA CHAMPIONSHIP
The other local champion crowned at Come Up For Air was the STFC Hawks, coached by Mark Salmon and assisted by Sarah Muskopf and Ken Farro, who won the girls U-18 division. The Hawks got off to a quick start Saturday by beating East Bay Eclipse 6-0 at South Tahoe High School with goals from Kenya Maltase, Ana Garcia, Kamy Farro and Makenzie Farro.
The second game Saturday came under the lights with a matchup against San Bruno Lowen Dynamite. The Hawks had a 2-0 lead late, when San Bruno’s right back was sent off with a red card for dangerous play — moments later, the entire fan base for the Dynamite was also sent packing by the match official.
With minutes to play and down to 10 players, San Bruno scored a late goal on a surprising strike from 25 yards out to narrow the gap to 2-1. The Hawks controlled play the rest of the way to advance to Sunday’s semifinals.
The Hawks’ semifinal matched them against a scrappy Canyon AYSO team from Cal South, and the hosts clung to a narrow 1-0 halftime lead on a goal from Jessica Withrow. The Hawks finally broke down the Canyon back line with three second-half goals to advance to the championship game with a 4-1 victory.
In the other semifinal, San Bruno pulled off a surprise 2-1 win over local powerhouse Carson FC Wolfpack to create a rematch in the final. Things started similarly in the championship, as a San Bruno player was sent off with a red card in the seventh minute.
Although the Hawks controlled the match, the Dynamite proved worthy of making the final and kept the score knotted until Garcia scored the game-winner in the 55th minute off a Kamy Farro cross to give the Hawks their third CUFA title all-time.
THREE SOUTH TAHOE FC BOYS TEAMS FINISH RUNNER-UP
The STFC Aguilas, coached by Victor Mariscal, made the finals in the boys U-11 division with competitive games throughout the weekend. The Aguilas started with two pool play wins on Saturday — a 3-2 victory over Mustang Internacional and a 3-1 win over Folsom SC Red.
On Sunday morning, the boys battled to a 2-2 draw against Mt. Diablo Rage — a result that put them into the championship game. In the final, the Aguilas fell to PHMSA Mayhem in a contest that came down to penalty kicks, and was decided on the 10th kick.
The STFC Yetis, coached by Ted King, made the finals in the boys U-12 division. Saturday tendered mixed results — a lopsided 11-0 victory in the morning over Concord United FC followed by a narrow 1-0 loss to Cal Magic East in the afternoon.
The boys persevered in their final pool play match Sunday with a 5-2 victory over PAC San Jose to advance to the afternoon final played at South Tahoe High. The Yetis battled a highly-ranked Almaden FC team who had gone 2-0-1 in the opposite pool to make the final, and fell just short with 4-3 loss in the championship Sunday afternoon.
The STFC Renegades, coached by Jeremy Evans, made the championship match in the boys U-14 division. The Renegades notched a pair of 4-0 shutout wins Saturday against the local Carson FC Shock and Concord United Revolution at South Tahoe Middle School.
Sunday proved tougher, and the Renegades squeaked by Davis Alliance Dynamo 3-2 in their final pool play match to win their flight and advance to the final. Sweeping through pool play on the other side of the bracket was the GBYSL Sierra Strikers, a familiar foe to Evans and the Renegades from Northern Nevada league play.
The Renegades struck first in the championship and held a 1-0 lead until the Strikers equalized late to force the final to extra time. After a scoreless overtime, the game was forced to kicks from the penalty spot — where the Strikers won the cup with a narrow 5-4 shootout victory.
This year’s CUFA tournament brought nearly 10,000 visitors to Tahoe to watch competitive youth soccer matches played on 16 different fields, spread out from Lake Tahoe Environmental Magnet School in Meyers to Whittell High School in Zephyr Cove. The demand was so high this year that over 100 teams were turned away, which forced the tournament committee to push next year’s event to two weekends — separate boys and girls events — in order to accommodate the high demand.
Tahoe Soccer Foundation is also hosting its inaugural CUFA Tahoe Fall Classic on Sept. 17-18 for girls and boys teams in divisions U-9 to U-19. Applications and details are online at http://www.tahoecufa.com.