Come rain or shine throughout the months of January and February, there were still sports to be played in Santa Clarita — specifically, championship-level youth soccer.
For three Canyon Country AYSO Boys All-Star soccer teams: Boys 10U, Boys 12U and Boys 14U teams from Region 677, that meant rescheduling numerous games throughout the course of the Area playoffs and into the Section playoffs.
That didn’t deter any of the three teams from advancing past the Area playoffs and into the latter playoffs held in Bakersfield
“Our semifinal game in Area Playoffs was pouring rain and there was a lot of mud, but a lot of the parents stepped up and the kids stepped up,” said Boys 10U All-Star team head coach Omar Falah. “They just put it out and had a mission to accomplish and they did it, even though we had to get postponed, delayed and had to cancel some practices. It was pretty hard to keep it at a consistent level of play because we would practice two days a week, and then not practice for the next two weeks.
“It made it hard to keep a chemistry and that makes it even more special looking back at it because without that chemistry because of the rain and doing so well, I think it’s just goes to show much better we would have been if we had those practices. But it was a good time for everybody. The kids were very excited.”
All three teams had very good showings at Area 10S playoffs, dominating opponents and outscoring them by very wide margins.
Falah’s Boys 10U team breezed through the Area 10S playoffs going undefeated in five games and registering 25 goals, while allowing only four on its way to the Area 10S title, to guarantee them a spot in the Section 10 playoffs.
The Boys 12U All-Star team coached by Bill Daggs won four out of the five Area 10S playoff games, with the fifth game being cancelled because of the weather and field conditions.
The team still managed to score and impressive 40 goals and allow just four in the process.
Lawrence Castruita’s Boys 14U All-Star team might have had the best showing in Area playoffs scoring netting 26 goals and allowing just one goal on its way to a the Area 10S title and a first-place seed in Bakersfield.
With the Boys 14U team qualifying for the Section 10S playoffs, the three teams headed off to Bakersfield to play three pool games and Saturday and if they advanced, a morning semifinals game and the championship later in the day.
Section 10 playoffs are comprised of 8 Areas and 60 Regions representing approximately 60,500 players from throughout California.
Falah’s Boys 10U team continued their dominance, taking first place in pool play to advance to the semifinals and into the finals.
Unfortunately, the team’s nine-game winning streak came to a halt in a hard-fought loss to a Burbank team, finishing the squad in second-place.
“It’s a whole other ball-game at Section,” Falah said. “Every single player is the best player for their respective region and area — much better play at section.”
The Boys 12U team similarly continued the scoring netting 18 goals and going undefeated in pool play. Their run ended, however, with two losses recently, resulting in a fourth-place finish.
The No. 1 seed in their pool, the Boys 14U team battled to advance into Sunday play, but fell to the eventual champions rom Northeast Bakersfield in the first game and rebounded to win the second game 2-0 to seal up a third-place finish.
With all three teams finishing the season in the top four at sections in their respective age groups this is one of if not the best year that the region has had as a whole.
“It’s an astounding accomplishment, however you see it,” Falah said. “Very rarely does a region get represented with so many teams at a section level for the finals. That’s unheard of. Since I’ve been with Canyon Country for over 15 years, I’ve never in my history been involved with so many teams being there. It’s just a testament to our region as far the organization and quality of play. It all starts from the top and works its way down. I think this has been one of the better year that our region has had as a whole as far as players, parents, coaches and refs, and that’s just a testament about how well we did this year.”