California State Games soccer tournament packs fields at CV-OTC, Southwestern College

The California State Games, which offers Olympic-style competition for amateur athletes of all ages and abilities, has been in existence for 28 years. This year’s edition, which partially played out July 15-17 at various South San Diego County venues, is believed to have been one of the largest on record.

In particular, the soccer tournament packed fields at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center and at Southwestern College last Saturday and Sunday. The SWC site included five fields in continuous operation with 42 teams competing in eight age-group divisions (U9 to U16).

Teams competed in 14 age division gender pools between the two sites.

Locally, several teams from the Chula Vista Rangers, Aztecs FC and Chula Vista and Bonita Matrix organizations participated.

Team champions included Hawthorne (Boys 1999/2000), Aztecs FC-Leon (Boys 2001), Calexico B15 (Boys 2002), Hawthorne United B14 (Boys 2003), Juventus San Diego (Boys 2005), SDSC Silver (Boys 2006), Calexico B10 (Boys 2007), Rebels (Boys 2008), Pacifica Thunder (Girls 1998/1999), CVSC Outkast G17 (Girls 2000), Aztecs FC-Jacobo (Girls 2001), Bonita Matrix Elite G15 (Girls 2002), Bonita Matrix Gold G14 (Girls 2003) and Matrix El Cajon G12 (Girls 2005).

“There are many summer tournaments that teams like to participate in to prepare for the regular season that starts in mid-August,” Rangers Red U10 team coach Juan Elias Marquez explained. “Club soccer is year-round — this is just another one of those tournaments.”

Marquez started played playing AYSO-level soccer in Chula Vista and later joined the Chula Vista Pumas club team. He also played three years of varsity soccer at Olympian High School.

This year’s State Games tournament featured a healthy mix of AYSO-level and club-level teams.

“In the competitive club circuit, the goal is to be competitive — that’s the major difference from AYSO,” explained Marquez, who is currently completing his studies at SDSU. “We want players to develop individually as well as a team. AYSO helps develop an interest in the game and also develops a sense of being a part of the community.”

Regardless of the mission statement of each program, there’s no denying that a sense of pride is also involved in participating in the State Games.

“Teams come from other regions in the state,” SWC site director Todd Danzeisen explained. “They want to represent where they come from and show the skills they bring to the game.”

The CV-OTC also hosted the girls field hockey and archery competitions while SWC also served as the host venue for the judo competition.

Making waves

Coronado High School and the Kroc Salvation Army Center hosted the State Games water polo tournament. Four teams represented the South Coast Water Polo Club, which totaled 56 athletes from Hilltop, Eastlake, Mar Vista, Southwest, Olympian, Otay Ranch, Mater Dei Catholic and Monte Vista high schools.

Last year, South Coast WPC entered two teams and placed first in the 16U girls and fifth in the 16U boys divisions. All four teams entered this year earned place-finishes, with three scoring bronze medals.

In finals played on Sunday:

South Coast defeated San Diego East County, 7-4, to capture the bronze medal in the 16U girls division while the South Coast 18U girls team defeated International WP Los Angeles, 10-4, to also capture a bronze medal.

In boys competition, South Coast edged Norse, 5-4, to earn the bronze medal in the 16U division while South Coast’s 18U team defeated Modesto, 9-4, in the fifth-place game.

Teams entered in the tournament included Rosebowl Pasadena, Corona High Riverside, Expo South Los Angeles, Eastvale Los Angeles, Coronado, FAST Fallbrook, San Miguel/Bishops, East County San Diego, Del Mar, Modesto, Norse/Valhalla, CBad/Carlsbad, Waterdog/Helix, Foothill Santa Ana and South Coast.

South Coast team captains included Zack Hastings, Andy Uribe, Izzy Hastings, Emilio Maldonado, Cooper Mestre, Josh Fischer and Jenna Kruse.

Maldonado is headed to play water polo at Whittier College with a merit scholarship while Izzy Hastings, also with a scholarship in hand, is bound to play water polo at SDSU.

South Coast club coaches include Ernie Medina (Hilltop), Chad Kavanagh (Mar Vista), David Chalmers (Mar Vista), Stuart Sokil (Eastlake), Jeff Kruse (Mater Dei Catholic), Sarah Medina (University of Irvine), Rachael Medina, Bobby Rector and Mike Hastings.

“The unique thing about SC Polo is that we are a combined effort from local high school coaches to improve water polo in the South Bay,” program director Ernie Medina explained. “We are giving back to the community. We have CIF championship level coaches and are confident that we can provide good fundamentals and advanced instruction to our area athletes.”