I think after every exciting and memorable tournament, we all wonder can it really get any better than this? After you’re holding your champ medals and trophies, after capturing those beautiful smiles that brighten our weekend-ending team picture, we relish in the glory, and then we ponder, in amazement, and say to ourselves how can we ever top this? Is it possible?
Yes, it is. You can, Flames. You know you can. SO YOU DO. As Chicago White Sox pitcher Phil Humber threw a perfect game on Saturday, the 21st no-hitter in MLB history, to win 4 to 0 over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field, you, Flames, did something that’s never been done in Coach Wayne’s six-year coaching history with AYSO’s Region 65 Select Soccer. Maybe even in Region 65’s history. And at the Santa Clarita Showdown on April 21st & 22nd, 2012, in your own bright whites on the burning hot artificial turf on fire of Hart High School, you too were perfect on the pitch, so perfect you reached the highest pool play score attainable, 30 points, with three shutouts in your three-game pool play run.
Then what do you do? Yes, something we could only dream of. You fiercely fight, as always, never giving up, determined to give this awesome gift to yourselves, something you deserve more than anything, and you know it. And in your final championship match, yes, you steal another shutout, winning everything, and bringing it all home with you: trophies, record-breaking feats, a weekend of 4 shutouts, NO GOALS ALLOWED, impenetrable, glorious, life-changing, this feeling is amazing.
This is your hot, fire-burning, competition-melting Santa Clarita Showdown:
For Game 1 on Saturday, Flames played Saugus, in 100-plus degree turf field conditions. Hottest game of the season, so far, no doubt. With your boots on fire, literally, at half Flames were up 1 to 0, scored another goal in the third, then fourth, ending with a victory of 3 to 0.
Time for lunch, and shade. We loved our healthy sandwiches, mac & cheese, various pasta salads, fruits, and desserts.
Saturday’s cooler evening Game 2 against North Valley remained scoreless until third quarter, when Flames decided to quickly cook their competition and score once, then twice more in the fourth quarter. At whistle, Flames end with another shutout victory of 3 to 0.
With dissipating fog and a nice temperature drop, we return on Sunday early to vaporize Quartz Hill. With a Flames Family rumble of feet and a protective roar in the stands, and maybe a human wave or two here and there, vaporizing is just what you did. With Goal 1 in the first quarter, you took care of business and sealed your fate; that’s all you needed to get yourselves into the championship match, win or lose. Now it was time to have a little fun. Goal 2 and 3 were tallied in the second quarter, Goal 4 in the third quarter, Goal 5 in the fourth quarter, and with a real-life flip for joy, Coop completes our good soccer victory 6 to 0.
Perfect 30-point pool play accomplished with three shutouts. Never forget it, Flames. As you know, it’s extremely hard to do. But you did it, of course. Always remember the happiness you have given your proud coaches.
It’s different, but I liken the mood before a final tournament game to the anticipation of a horse race. A group of athletes in extreme, in the best shape of their young lives, healthy, eager, chomping at the bit, the ball, ready to win. You can feel it in the air. You can see it in their young faces. It’s what we all love about the game of soccer.
But before the 5:30 pm Sunday championship gates open, we recharged on more sandwiches and took up a little comedic basketball before the futbol. And lest we forget the fun we had this weekend in our hotel stay. Did you know luggage carts have multiple purposes and can be used to transport items much more valuable than just, well, luggage?
Our showdown opponent in the final was Canyon Country. Yes, that determined team in one of our hardest games, where we tied 1 to 1 in Game 3 of the Chino Hills tournament.
As conversations arose about our Flames battle ahead, “I won’t let them lose,” declares Nick. And then you were off, with the wind against you and the “best sideline ever” by your side. You seized your lead early, in the first quarter, actually. With a throw-in by AJ, followed by a header in the net from Isaiah, you had claimed your ending gold. You just didn’t know it yet. You had to keep going. You had a finish line with yet another shutout celebration in mind. You wanted this win. And you were determined you’d seal it your way.
Halftime Pep: Focus. Composure. Energy. The wind’s with you. Relax. Play. Play hard right now. Win every ball.
The last half of your game, that 35 minutes of nail-ripping, hair-pulling, sideline screaming play where Flames white fought Canyon black for trophy hardware can definitely be chalked up as another unforgettable night. So many saved goals by Cris. So many booted-clear-to-safety balls by steadfast defense. So much adrenaline flowing through your veins. So much nervousness on the field. So many, many close calls. A Canyon Country corner kick in play: “You want to get this ball out right now! You have to get this ball out right now!” demands AJ.
And you did, over and over. You all came though. You did it. You made it happen, for yourselves, for your Flames, your brothers, for your coaches, for us all. Final score of the Santa Clarita Showdown U16 Boys Championship game, 1 to 0, Flames.
4 shutouts, 30 points in pool play, your third championship win, this is such a triumph for you, for Coach Wayne, Coach Ari, and Coach Kyle. We thank you, Flames, for giving them this amazing gift, for giving us all the most remarkable memories of this amazing weekend. Feel proud for what you have done for others so close to you.
It feels like you’ve reached this famed, awe-inspiring plateau, where everybody’s watching, where you’ve done it all, you’ve exceeded expectations abound in hard-fought soccer wars in such a short amount of time. It’s like you’ve come full circle in a journey yet so small, where from now on, we are one, complete. Like it’s in the stars; it’s in the sun; it’s everywhere in everyone, and it will be every day. From now on we are one. But that’s just the wonderfulness of a really, really, really great soccer team under the wings of some really, really, really cool coaches. Amazing…
What else will you do? What’s next in our expedition across Southern California, and then the United States? More mind-blowing, striking moments of really good soccer the mind will never erase, of course. Keep showering us with championships, please. Let’s go. 4 wins, 0 ties, 0 losses, 4 shutouts.