A local AYSO team recently returned from the American Youth Soccer Organization National Games in Oahu, Hawaii, as champion of its division. The under-16 boys team went undefeated in the weeklong event.
Brian Eugeni and Walter Greyski served as co-head coaches of the squad from AYSO Region 45, which primarily serves Mountain View and south Los Altos.
“We got several kids to come (to the tournament) who, frankly, are some of the most talented players I’ve seen play soccer in this area in years,” Eugeni said. “It was truly special to be able to coach them and see them have such success.”
To prepare for nationals, Eugeni and Greyski brought together players from two top-level teams from Region 45 for an extended tryout. Between February and June, they played in several tournaments until both coaches agreed on a final roster.
“We reduced down to one team of players born between 2003 and 2005,” Eugeni said. “Those 16 players practiced for several weeks together before we departed for Hawaii, so we never actually got to play a game as a combined team before.”
Despite their lack of practice together, the boys won their division with a sparkling 9-0-0 record last month. Eugeni attributed their success to the connection the boys built off the field.
“Some of these kids have played together for almost 10 years,” said Eugeni, whose players primarily attend Los Altos and Mountain View highs. “We persuaded these kids into staying and playing with us rather than going to another soccer club with the promise that we would have some fun together, travel a bit and play with friends.”
To celebrate the championship, the team enjoyed the picturesque beaches nearby.
“I had a 16-person team bus that I rented, full of jubilant children, and we drove to Northshore in Hawaii,” Eugeni said. “We went out to the beaches on Northshore and bodysurfed until the sun set.”
As the Hawaii tournament concluded, so did AYSO’s extensive spring season. AYSO kicks off its recreational fall season next month.
“Then we will have tryouts and do the next round of what we call ‘Select Soccer,’ which is our all-star soccer,” Eugeni said. “That will commence in February of 2020.”
Region 45 girls team also makes nationals
The boys weren’t alone in Hawaii; Region 45’s under-12 girls team qualified for the tournament as well. The squad went 1-1-3.
“We held tryouts to find out who would be interested and we put together the team by January-February,” coach Jeff Oldberg said. “It actually pulled players from three of our teams.”
The 12 girls came from nine or 10 elementary schools in the area, according to Oldberg, and were in fifth or sixth grade.
Oldberg, who has worked with AYSO for nine years, added that he had never taken part in a tournament like this before.
“We went in with a great group of girls and also a fun group of families,” he said. “We had mixed results, but it was soccer in Hawaii. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”
Participation is based on a lottery system. Oldberg said it’s “pretty rare” for an AYSO Region 45 team to land a spot in the tournament. Like the boys team, Oldberg and his group of U12 girls spent a lot of time at the beach between games.
“Some of the girls would swim or dig or do stuff they usually do,” Oldberg said. “The parents would socialize. We did a few lunches between games, but the biggest event that not everyone attended was a snorkel boat trip. We had maybe six, seven families.”
For more information on AYSO Region 45, visit ayso45.org.