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Lebanon youth soccer players have ‘amazing’ time, close finishes in Hawaii

Three Lebanon AYSO youth soccer teams have returned after a trip to the National Games tournament in Oahu, Hawaii.

“The trip was amazing,” said Duston Denver, local coach administrator  for Region 870, which serves the Lebanon, Albany, Sweet Home and Brownsville areas, and has just been elected area director for Oregon and Washington.

“The kids had a great time.”

Three teams went from Lebanon: the Under-12 Girls Crater Lake Queens, the U14 Boys Pink Panthers and U19 Oregon Ice, which actually ended up playing as a coed team in the boys competition. The event was held at the Waipio Soccer Park in Oahu.

Carlos Oseguera, of the U19 Lebanon team, moves on the ball as teammate Sierra Nelson, left, watches.

Oregon Ice came home with the Sportsmanship Award for its division, which, said Denver, who coached that team, is a highly coveted trophy.

The Crater Lake Queens, coached by Aaron Falotico and Jeff Vandiver, finished fourth in their U12 pool, which included the overall winner for the division. The girls won two games, including one shutout against All-star, Select and Extra teams from California and Hawaii. They finished first in their pool for Sportsmanship and seventh overall in their division out of 24 teams.

Team members were Kaedence Cummings, Avery Hansen, Kyra Rouse, Lillyanna Sapp, Hope Simpson, Tessa Thompson, Kylee Thurman, Ruby VandenBos, Madison Vandiver and Meredith Whitman.

The  Pink Panthers, coached by Satina Tolman and Kendra Mhoon-Coatney, finished fifth in the official results in their pool, missing the quarterfinals by three points. They won two of their games, the last two against All-Star, Select and Extra Teams from California, New York and Hawaii. They finished third in their division for Sportsmanship, out of 14 teams.

 Team members were Andre Alvarez, Jacob Bailey, Peter Baur, Caleb Black, Dylan Cate, Bruce Cox, Jonathon Fouts, Emmanuel Guzman, Porter Mhoon-Coatney, Jordan Nelson, Ethan Parrish, Tanner Thurman, Benjamin Tolman and Aiden Witney.

Oregon Ice, coached by Denver and Josh Nelson, was the only coed team in its division and finished last in its pool, but finished first overall in the U19 Division for Sportsmanship, with a perfect score of 33.

They also won first overall in Sportsmanship for the entire National Games, of 175 teams, becoming the first U19 boys team to achieve this accomplishment.

Team members were Eric Allam, Noah Denver, Lucas Fitchett, Jonathon Haynes, Dylan Heimbuch, Lexi Knight, Olivia Martineau, Sierra Nelson, Destiny Neuman-Bradshaw, Elijah O’Brien, Carlos Oseguera, Austin Parrish, Jackson Parrish, Logan Sapp, Madilynn Sapp and Helen Williams.

Denver noted that the team’s name will be engraved on the National Games Sportsmanship Trophy, which is prominently displayed at AYSO National Office in Torrance, Calif. Each player on the team received medals and a tiki trophy, he said.

“That’s the big one,” Denver said, noting that the  Lebanon team was one of six of the 175 teams in the tournament that finished with perfect Sportsmanship scores, but “when the board started looking through the records for a tie-breaker, they said our team came through head and shoulders above the rest.”

Lebanon’s Porter Mhoon-Coatney, left, beats an opponent to the ball in a U14 game.

One local referee, Shyuessy Hwang, also participated in the tournament, and Cidni O’Brien, a local U14 girls player, was picked up by a team from California that made it to the quarterfinals in its division.

“I am personally proud of the way this group came together to ensure it was for the kids, and all about the kids,” said new Regional Commissioner Aaron Falotico in an email to coaches.

“Be proud of our region as we competed on the fields, and have the players and talent to go against some of the other regions that are more developed in their programs.  Our coaches are just as good, if not better (in my opinion), in embracing the AYSO philosophies with the ability to adjust to any given situation and are able to get their players to buy into their system.

“All of the coaches worked as a team, communicating, adjusting, and sacrificing, to move a large number of people to and from Hawaii, and make these games as enjoyable as possible for the players.”

Region 870 is currently taking registrations for the upcoming fall and spring seasons.  www.ayso870.org

Madison Vandiver, center, goes after the ball with support from Lillyanna Sapp, right, and Tessa Thompson.

The Hawaii trip was Lebanon’s second to nationals in three years. The region sent two teams to Florida three years ago. He said qualifying for the nationals is a prolonged process that includes a lottery selection system that teams must enter, and then must fund-raise for about a year to make the trip.

The chance to play in the weeklong tournament was worth the effort, though, he said.

“This is a big deal for us. The kids had an amazing experience.”