Something happens when you are catapulted into greatness. Something mysterious. Heavenly. Worldly. Something dream-like. Self-confidence emanates from your soul. The air around you becomes lighter. Strangers whisper in your presence. You smile and this light shines from within. Your reds become redder, your blacks blacker, and your whites blind. You move, and people watch. Then something else occurs while you are out there being a bomb: You begin to break records, and then more records. Your peers stand in awe. You’re untouchable. Indestructible. Unstoppable. Bulletproof.
We’re in town for the Mission Viejo Classic with nothing to lose and something to win. Fire away, fire away…
This Oso Soccer Complex tournament holds two pools in our division. One pool of 6 teams: Lakewood, Valencia, Mission Viejo A, Chino Hills A, Diamond Bar, and Rancho Cucamonga. And one pool of 4 teams: Mission Viejo B, West Garden Grove, North Valley, and Chino Hills B. The highest scoring team in each pool receives the honor of playing for the championship. The second highest scoring team in each pool plays for the consolation of 3rd or 4th place. We’re in the pool of six teams and we’ll play three of the teams in our pool during our three-game pool play.
In this situation, we could potentially win all of our games and still not advance on to the final. Wins, goals allowed, goals scored, and shutouts are all extraordinarily crucial in this fight.
Saturday 10:30 am Mission 1: Valencia. It was orange versus red in a game of fast soccer. They cleaned up their act and played fierce, and this game ended in no net. End result of Mission 1: 0 to 0 tie, Flames Shutout No. 1.
Mission 1 Observation: Flames are now in a second-place, four-way tie with four teams, all having four points, and those purple Diamond Bar boys, who we have yet to meet again, are in the lead with 9 points.
12:00 pm Flames Barracks Mess Hall Lunch: “Our best lunch to date” will always be remembered as those delicious chicken burritos with homemade salsa and guacamole, cole slaw, fruit, and hardworking homemade desserts. Practically everybody went back for seconds. Absolutely Delicious!
We hold great pride for and give enormous gratitude to our Flames Referee Team. In each of our tournaments, they uphold our Flames Standard of Excellence, give guidance and instruction to the soccer players and families of our world, and sacrifice time and energy for our Flames Family. I could not possibly write enough words here on paper to put them on the highest pedestal they so deserve. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Team!
Saturday 3:30 pm Mission 2: Lakewood. Another practically netless game. That is until third quarter when Cooper’s header ricochets off the crossbar and Ian is there to sweep up the score. End result of Mission 2: 1 to 0, Flames Shutout No. 2.
Mission 2 Observation: “You get snack?!” says an oncoming Mission Viejo player to our Flames at the end of our game. “Yeah, what’s AYSO without snack?” wittingly replies Ivo. “Well, we don’t get snack. Hey, that’s your secret!” chuckles MV.
Oh, fellow Select Soccer World, yes, perhaps that’s exactly what it is. Never underestimate the possibilities of a few fruit gummies shot down with a Gatorade or two.
At this point after two completed pool play games, the point tally for our pool of six is as follows: Mission Viejo, 0; Lakewood, 4; Valencia, 9; Rancho Cucamonga, 12; Chino Hills, 12; and Diamond Bar, 14. We’re tied in second place with Chino Hills.
So here we are at the end of an unusually Flames low scoring Saturday at sunset and the scenarios are swirling in our heads. We try to escape them, but they return with a vengeance. It’s not good to worry about this stuff. We don’t believe in influencing these brilliant athletic minds with anything out of their control. But we secretly can’t help it. So we think. We think of the possible scenario, the perfect scenario. That’s all we allow into our minds. And that perfect scenario vision is that you, Flames, will play your game. You will create your opportunities, and you will run with them and win. On Sunday, you will rise above your tie with Chino Hills, and Diamond Bar will succumb to or tie Lakewood. You will then become first in your pool and we all know where that takes you.
And then we think further: Will our Flames play in their ninth championship match and then take home their sixth championship of the 2012 season? Will you actually put yourselves in the Seagraves/Ruiz record book and break the title held of five championships? Okay, I’ll admit, yes, little did you know, that’s what we were thinking.
After our hip hotel stay and chilly poolside potluck at The Hills, we rose early and returned to the grass Sunday morning. And as you played Sunday Mission No. 3: Mission Viejo at 9:15 am, running parallel with you was the Diamond Bar versus Lakewood match. As we watched you do your thing and stop and score goal after goal after goal, we couldn’t help but glance over our shoulders at, yes, the perfect scenario Diamond Bar tie just brewing alongside you with an approximate 30-second delay from your watch. End result of Mission 3: Flames Shutout No. 3 of the weekend, 4 to 0. And, nail-bitingly moments later, a — Yes! Perfect! — Diamond Bar tie with Lakewood.
Our pool play work was complete. Our strategy and teamwork successful. And once Chino Hills had completed and even won their third game, our tie with them was broken and we had pulled two points ahead of them to first in our pool. Our final rival from the Strawberry Cup two weeks earlier, Chino Hills, took second in pool and would play for consolation. And the remaining teams of our pool — Diamond Bar, Mission Viejo, Lakewood, and Valencia — were heading home.
And you, Flames, were heading to your ninth championship game glory.
There comes a time when the mind decides to let go. To enjoy the landscape and the fire and to breathe in the greatness all around. You’re set free, like a bird, able to achieve amazing things with your wings soaring wide, unbroken. Nothing holds you to the ground. And, yes, I am really comparing you to beautiful birds. Because you are — liberated, complete, unrestrained, pure, confident, and, as I said before, untouchable. It is our belief your destiny is already written, Flames. And it’s about this time when a little thing called fate just seems to take over. And we just watch it magically happen. We live the dream with you. And we never, ever want to wake up.
And in this dream, you play North Valley in the 2012 Mission Viejo Classic Championship, your final mission of the weekend. You hold 75 to 80 percent possession. With a competitive and envious consolation match sideline sitting back to back with your sideline, your parents sing you on. There’s a delivery from the mailman in third quarter and you accept the soccer ball package by placing it into the net. You hold a score of 1 to 0. And with less than five minutes left of this fantasy, you take your aim, and with nothing to lose, fire away…fire away. And then you, Flames blinding white, solidly overcome North Valley gold with another goal, and you hold your opponent until this 2 to 0, Flames Shutout No. 4 is complete.
YOU DID IT. YOU WON. Our arms raised high. We chanted you Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole… Rancho…Rancho. You cheered for your opponent. End result of this final mission in Mission Viejo: Champions, again. Another successful shutout weekend accomplished with zero goals in your net. We’ve never been champs of the Mission Viejo Classic. We are now. And we just love that large, shiny, silver trophy cup.
And finally, most incredibly, you broke that record of five championships held by another team. You now own the record of holding six championships in one Rancho Cucamonga Flames Select Soccer Season, along with now a total of two full tournament shutout weekends. Enjoy it. Remember it. You no doubt deserve it.
So let’s continue on in this divine state of REM of ours. Let’s sleep Flames deep for a while longer. This dream of ours is far, far, far from over. 3 wins, 1 tie, 0 losses, 7 goals.
Next stop: Summer Kick-Off, Ontario, California, June 15th, 16th & 17th, 2012.
Our business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves — to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterday by our today. Stewart B. Johnson