Photos: Kristi Citron
Clearwater Beach FL— Four teams from Oceanside, California flew across the country to compete at the seventh annual Major Beach Soccer National Championships held on December 10th and 11th and, after a weekend packed with action and excitement on the sugar sand of Clearwater Beach (next to the Gulf of Mexico), two of the four teams ended up returning home with National Titles. Jim Wood, the mayor of Oceanside, met with both teams to congratulate them on their victories.
Crown Heights – The New 2016 MBS BU18 National Beach Soccer Champions!
A team named Crown Heights, composed of Oceanside High School senior varsity players, made the history books in the BU18 division with four straight wins in the preliminary rounds, defeating teams from Syracuse, New York (by a score of 4-1), Chicago, Illinois (in a 9-1 blow-out), West Palm Beach, Florida (in a tight 2-1 match), and their local rivals from El Camino High in Oceanside, California (with a hotly contested 6-1 final score) to finish in first place after the preliminary matches, securing a position in the National Championship Final. This left their cross-town El Camino High rivals, Swap Meet FC, to battle it out with the Syracuse BSC Warriors. Unfortunately, once the dust settled, the strong and talented players from New York advanced to the final round to face Crown Heights for the Championship Match and, in doing so, eliminated the possibility of an “El Clasico” finale between the two Oceanside-based teams that were competing in this division.
The contest between New York and California, a classic East versus West Coast match up, did not disappoint as both teams battled hard to take the coveted 2016 National Title. Crown Heights drew first blood with an incredible goal from Angel Villalobos at the beginning of the match, but the Warriors rallied back to level the score 1-1 by the end of the first period. The determined OHS players, who are all part of the Crown Heights Resource Center, advanced their lead at the very beginning of the second period with a surprisingly quick goal by Miguel Arango, occurring right after the kick-off, stunning the New Yorkers, who quickly regrouped and fought back with everything they had. Fortunately, for Crown Heights, the score line remained 2-1 at the end of the second period. A very tight contest indeed between two teams from the opposite ends of the United States! As the third period commenced, Angel found the net for a second time in the match, helping to further build on the team’s lead, and this would prove to be a crucial goal that would eventually keep the match from going into overtime and penalty kicks to decide the outcome.
The Syracuse players refused to concede, keeping the match close by scoring a free kick at the edge of the Crown Heights’ goalkeeper box, bringing the score to within a goal with only 5 minutes remaining to play in the final period. The action continued at a frenetic pace, highlighting the style, skill and finesse that both teams possessed, but the boys from the City of Oceanside were able to effectively stop the Warriors ongoing attack, during the remaining portion of the final period, to give O’Side the coveted BU18 MBS National Championship! A video of the entire match and highlights of other matches will be posted on YouTube over the next week or two and a link will be provided here.
The excitement level was high as the final whistle blew and the long journey, which started last June when the players barely scraped up enough money for entry fees to compete at the national qualification tournament on Coronado Island, came to a close. Ultimately, winning the qualifier in Coronado opened the door to receiving the invitation letter from MBS to compete at the National Championships.
These very deserving young men worked extremely hard to raise the funding to fly to Florida and they also trained regularly at the harbor, several times before their daily high school soccer practices, in preparation for this national competition. This helped them win in a big way as they defeated every team in the preliminary rounds and then took down a physically larger team from New York in the final.