Gifts come in all forms. Tangible presents may be wrapped up in paper with a nice bow. Gifts may be words spoken, a sweet, heartfelt compliment, or perhaps a close embrace of arms and bodies. And then there are unexpected gifts, gifts that are given to another with no planning, just perfect, beautiful gifts that happen over a moment in time when we’re just living in the present, perhaps a father and son, doing what they love, waking weekend early morning, all packed up and ready to go, ready to watch you run, run your heart out with grace and glory, blessed, free, and healthy, in uniform on the soccer field. These are the moments in time we live for. These are the best gifts of all.
Join me as we relive Father’s Day weekend at South Ontario’s Summer Kick-Off at the Ontario Soccer Complex. Stay with me as we remember the unforgettable moments of the last tournament of our AYSO Select Soccer season. Let’s remember these moments in time always. Let’s never let them go…
When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry. Shakespeare
You arrive confident and crazy ready in red black red Saturday morning to take on Rowland Heights. This is it, boys, and you’re determined to make this weekend phenomenal. And it seems this game’s Flames goals just kept adding quarterly; by game end, you had your shutout, 5 to 0.
Walnut entered two of their teams in this tournament, and for Saturday’s Game 2 you played one of them, a team you had never played before, not the Walnut team you lost to in the final game of the Chino Hills’ Kickin’ It Up In The Hills tournament on evening turf. That comes later, on Sunday. Second quarter of Game 2 brings you Flames goal one, and you lead now 1 to 0. In third quarter they sneak in a goal on you and tie this game up. And as injury after Flames injury took its toll upon you and your effort dropped as you played on at their lower level, you thankfully grabbed your second goal in fourth quarter. As Coach Wayne said, the mark of a good team is to win even when you’re not playing your best. Well, Flames, you do that good, too, and final this game out at 2 to 1. “Let’s do work tomorrow,” says inspiring Thing 1. Yes, let’s do.
“You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.” Dr. Seuss
With Father’s Day gifts all around for Dads and Grandpas, we return white red white early morning on Sunday with two wins under our sliders to contend nicely with Chino Hills, a different Chino Hills team. So that makes an oh happy day even happier. Present 1 was given in first quarter — an unstoppable 30-yard, ground-like ball shot hard by Isaac slips through Chino Hills’ keeper. In second quarter Ian and Anthony give abundantly together as Ian shoots close to goal and Anthony solidifies ball into net just feet from the goal line. Cooper’s feeling giving, too, in second quarter with Gift No. 3, a cool side kick into the goal. This unselfish game play and gift-giving continues after halftime when Nick’s corner kick is headed into net by Isaiah. Excellent passing, forwarding fullbacks, and some beautiful summer soccer surfing continues, literally, to the last second of fourth quarter when Ivo puts his own corner kick into the net with an outside curve of the right foot. A delightfully dazzling 5 to 0 ending.
“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” Dr. Seuss
How does over $16,000 sound? I thinks it sounds phenomenal. Yes, that’s how much money we have fundraised as a team for our team to go to Knoxville’s AYSO’s National Games. We did it, Everyone. We worked so faithfully, so positively, so redundantly, so confidently, so diligently. We made a promise to ourselves, to our boys, and we can now stand tall and proudly say we did it. And after our Sunday morning game, we talked about what lies in our path for Knoxville and what fun lies ahead for our 4th of July — I’m thinking the water park and zoo will never know what hit’em.
We all know Phil and Ish, those two slick, quick forwards of ours, who play from the start with all of their heart and quite often seem so hard to tell apart, who on demand and command, always seem to get the job done when there’s that ever so great game to be won. So, appropriately, Coach Wayne has given them Dr. Seuss’ Thing 1 and Thing 2 t-shirts, and, yes, this describes them quite fittingly, classically, spastically, FANTASTICALLY.
We also took our Flames Family picture, all 68 of us, and missing some too. For Dads and Grandpas, Clarissa and Frankie made chocolate chip cookies and Nilsa and Chris’ Tapatio Hot Sauce bottle was just flaming perfect for each: Fathers Love A Memorable Exciting Soccer match. “On this Father’s Day…what more could you desire than a small bottle of fire and of course your RC Flames to win their games.”
And to continue on in this soccer Seussical, that’s exactly what you did, and more. You blew out another record. 10 tournaments entered into, and in all 10 you earned your way into the championship match, placing first in your pool every time. That’s never been done before by an AYSO Region 65 Select Soccer team. And then off you went into the sunset of your final championship match of our season together. And here you are to play Walnut, this time the very Walnut you had lost to. And you love this challenge. Yes, this is what you live for.
Excellent passing in Quarter 1 brings Isaiah Gift Goal No. 1, and it’s soon followed by Gift No. 2 when Nick’s free kick is shaved over Walnut’s wall and straight high left into the net. With a Flames fire in your heart and a lead now of 2 to 0, we witness you set yourself apart, play hard, fight heat, pain, and exhaustion to work for your victory. But in third quarter Walnut finally scores, the score ups to 2 to 1, and the nailbiting starts.
At this point in time all we ever want now is for you, Flames, to just hold this. And as this game just seems to go on and on with close shots and close saves and into the fourth quarter as your steam diminishes and pain increases, your sideline is now just praying that you keep your alertness and stamina and fight hard to the finish. Yes, we really just want this one last season finale perfect ending Father’s Day gift. And with barely minutes, maybe just one left on the watch, Walnut breaks through our defense and heads straight for Keeper Cris with an unobstructed shot for the net. This is it, we’re thinking. This may tie the game, and then we must continue the fight. Walnut, probably 15 feet from the goal line with an open, clear shot into the net, shoots to the left middle high, and if there ever were the most beautiful keeper save possible, the most much-needed goal stop of Cris’ shutout-filled soccer season, this would go down in the record books. As Walnut’s ball is flying hard towards its destination, Cris’ right hand reaches out and snaps to the right and slaps that game-stealing ball far, far away. We could hear it. We could feel it. The whistle blows soon after. The game is over. We just lived it. The gift, you just gave it. And we can now breathe. Championship final score: 2 to 1, Flames.
And there it was. The last championship possibly impossible was now everything possible. It was ours. Our seventh one. Walnut took their defeat graciously and applauded your win. We’ve seen that end-of-game opponent commendation a lot over the games of this season, Flames. It says so much about a team like you. I think we’ll remember all those rival arms during the high-fives raised high and clapping for the way you play your game.
I’d like to extend a very special praise to our wall of defense. You know who you are — Austin, Aidan, Luis, Andreas, and Morgan. You don’t get to share much in these written words of glory, but without you, all this greatness I get to write about every tournament would be nonexistent. Without your strong, dependable, unshakable, human shield of resistance, we, as a team, would be nothing. Thank you for your quiet humbleness and fierce protection.
It was hard to walk away from the Ontario Soccer Complex that Sunday evening, knowing it was the last time we’d all be at a game together. And I think we all got pretty emotional when, after all medals were given out and speeches were spoken, we did what we love to do most as your cheerleaders and we sang to you for one last time in Southern California: Ole Ole Ole Ole, Rancho, Rancho…
But it’s time now for that other dream of ours to come true, Flames and Coaches. It’s time to travel over 2,100 miles across the USA to the AYSO National Games in Knoxville, Tennessee. Let’s have the time of our lives for eight days straight. Let’s take all this hard work, integrity, camaraderie, leadership, sportsmanship, skittles, and grace and go show the world what we’re made of. Let’s shoot for the stars and land far, far beyond. We just know we will.
“Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all.” Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
End of season stats: 36 victories, 4 defeats, 2 ties, 10 tournaments, 10 championship games, 7 championships, 3 second-place finishes, first in pool in every tournament, 130 goals, 22 shutouts.
Final stop: AYSO National Games, Knoxville, TN, July 1st through July 8th, 2012
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Once in Knoxville, I will update briefly nightly here on Live Vitale, on Facebook, Facebook Flames to Knoxville, and on Shutterfly.
Families attending the Games will be free to update throughout the day on Facebook Flames to Knoxville to keep families at home up to date, too.
Here We Go, Flames!! Knoxville, Here We Come!!