West Coast FC boys teams shine at San Diego Surf Cup
When the 2015 San Diego Surf Cup crowned its champions July 27, the event organizers must have wondered if they were seeing double. Head Coach Neil Armour led two different teams to championships, one in the U-15 age group and the other in the U-16 Gold Division.
A third West Coast FC team, coached by Oliver Wyss, won the top U-17 division with a 1-0 win over Sacramento United Reds 98.
The Surf Cup, which hosts boys and girls youth teams from the U-10 to U-18 levels, is an annual tournament held in San Diego, Cal. This year, the U-15 through U-18 levels of the tournament lasted from July 25 to July 27. Each team played three group stage games, with the best performers advancing to a playoff bracket. The final games took place on Monday afternoon.
Some of the teams advancing to those championship games, including West Coast FC U-15, played six games over three days. Fitness and conditioning, therefore, were some of the keys to the success of Armour’s clubs.
“I think both my teams’ conditioning was pretty good. Both of these teams do two conditioning sessions a week and also two practices in a week. So they’re in very good shape coming into this tournament,” Armour said.
Conditioning played a large role in the success of Armour’s teams, as did U-15 goalkeeper Christian Sevilla who made the important plays when it mattered most. Down 3-1 in a penalty kick shootout in the championship game, he saved the next three attempts he faced in order to save his team from the brink of defeat. West Coast FC converted its final three chances to clinch the victory.
With three teams claiming championships, West Coast FC had a very strong showing at the 2015 Surf Cup. Armour’s teams, however, faced challenges in the weeks leading up to the tournament that made success far from a sure thing.
The U-15 team had fallen in the quarterfinals of a tournament in Idaho just before the start of the Surf Cup. Add to that a very difficult opening group and the team faced an uphill climb.
“I knew that if we could get out of the bracket, we would have a very good chance,” Armour said. “Our goal for these tournaments is to get out of the bracket first, and then we’ll see where the draw takes us.”
While most teams did not change time zones in order to attend the event, some squads travelled great distances in order to compete. In the U-15 group stages, West Coast FC drew 0-0 against Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente Fuerzas Basicas, which hails from Tijuana, Mexico. Junior Matao of Guam also played in the U-15 group stages, though it dropped all of its matches. Along with the concentration of quality youth soccer clubs on the west coast, the wide-ranging draw of the Surf Cup is part of what makes the tournament and its group stages so difficult.
The U-16 team had also recently suffered a disappointing defeat, missing out on a chance to advance in a tournament because of goal differential despite never losing a game. The goal for the players, therefore, was to bounce back and play well.
“We missed out on goal difference, so that was tough for [the players]. The goal for them was I really wanted them to play well and to see how they would bounce back after missing out,” Armour said.
Both of Armour’s West Coast FC sides met and exceeded their goals for the weekend. The U-15 team made it out of the group and posted shutouts in its first two playoff games before the thrilling penalty kick victory. The U-16s, meanwhile, played well enough to cruise to a 5-1 victory in the final game.
See below for a full list of division champions from the 2015 San Diego Surf Cup.
U-15: West Coast FC Armour
U-16: Sherman Oaks Extreme FC
U-16 Gold: West Coast FC Armour
U-17: West Coast FC Wyss
U-17 Gold: Crossfire Select B98 Warriors
U-18: Monarcas Academy Aztec
U-18 Gold: Alamo Revolution 98 Blue
U-15: SD Surf Academy ECNL
U-15 Gold: CCU SoCal Academy
U-16: SoCal Blues
U-16 Gold: Eastside FC G99
U-17: SD Surf Academy ECNL
U-17 Gold: Strikers FC ECNL
U-18: Albion SC USA G97-98
U-18 Gold: Surf Hawaii White 98G