Laguna Legends boys’ team wins AYSO Boys Under 14 national championship
Photo by Susan M. Anderson
The team arrives at John Wayne Airport after winning in Palm Beach
Laguna Legends players: Nathaniel Colburn, Taylor Davidson, Alex DiGenova, Traer Freeman, Zach Jacobs, Connor Jones, Nathan Lancaster, Brayan Rico, Rory Saunders, Chris Tellez, Willy Wheeler, Sam Wogulis and Isaac Shields.
By KIRK SAUNDERS
A commanding performance at the AYSO Soccer National Games gave the Laguna Beach Boys Under 14 Spring Select team a national championship. Coach Silvano DiGenova, with Laguna Beach AYSO Regional Commissioner Alan Caserio sitting in as Assistant Coach, led the team undefeated through the week long tournament in Palm Beach, Florida at the International Polo Club from July 5-12.
The national games take place every two years. Over two hundred youth soccer teams with some 3500 players take part in the games utilizing 30 soccer pitches.
The Tournament started on the second day of activities. Despite two impressive wins over teams from Utah and South Carolina, the loss of star mid-fielder Alex DiGenova to a broken arm in Game 1 left the team without any substitutes and worried about staying fresh in the wilting 90 degree heat and humidity. A hard fought victory over a strong Chino, California side, and easier wins over Central Florida and Pennsylvania teams carried the Laguna Legends through the pool play undefeated and into the knock-out playoff stages.
Strong performances by all the boys led to quarter final and semi-final victories over Grenada Hills, California and Alabama teams with the Alabama game decided by a five to four penalty kick margin after the game ended tied 1-1.
In the finals Sunday, impressive team playing produced a dominating 2-0 win over a strong opponent from South Central Los Angeles.
In the eight games, Taylor Davidson, Brayan Rico, Zach Jacobs, Willy Wheeler, Rory Saunders, Traer Freeman, Alex DiGenova, Chris Tellez, and Connor Jones all scored at least once, with Chris Tellez earning the “Golden Boot” for most goals scored, with seven goals. Goalie Nathan Lancaster only allowed three goals the entire tournament, with lots of help from defenders Sam Wogulis, Nathaniel Colburn, Connor Jones, Brayan Rico and Rory (the Beast) Saunders.
The week started well with the boys demonstrating their soccer skills and making friends at the “Soccerfest,” during which the players from each team are reorganized into new teams made up of one player from each of the teams participating. Playing two games alongside players from all over the nation and with a different coach broke down barriers and reinforced AYSO’s emphasis on sportsmanship. The boys thoroughly enjoyed it.
The new National Champions returned home Monday with gold medals and memories that will last a lifetime.
At Laguna Art Museum Sunday
“Build Your Own Art Shack” – kids’ workshop
Artist Jason Maloney, Hurley and Laguna Art Museum (LAM) will host a workshop for kids this coming Sunday afternoon at one o’clock in conjunction with LAM’s current exhibit, Art Shack.
Maloney, Hurley’s resident artist, will show and teach kids from grades K-8 about the art of shack making. Students will be able to take home their own mini-art shack.