By Gudrun Enger, AYSO Region 109, Menlo Park-Atherton
The Menlo Park-Atherton AYSO Girls under 12 and Boys under 12 soccer teams both won in their respective divisions at the AYSO Silicon Valley Area Championships, held Dec. 7-8 in Menlo Park and Sunnyvale. This area includes Menlo Park, Atherton, Los Altos, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, and Portola Valley.
The teams, which include a dozen 10- and 11-year-old players, advanced to the Section 2 Tournament in Foster City on Dec. 14-15. The GU12 Lightning Wolves placed second in their division, while the BU12 Blue Jays lost in the quarterfinals to the eventual tournament winner (MDSA). Section 2 covers Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada (except Las Vegas) and Alaska, serving over 33,000 youth soccer players.
"I can count on one hand the amount of times Menlo Park has sent a team to the Section 2 tournament," says Michael Molano, regional commissioner for AYSO Region 109 Menlo Park-Atherton. "To have both our girls and boys from U12 attend this year demonstrates the commitment of our volunteers that have worked so hard to strengthen our program."
The Lightning Wolves posted an 8-1-1 regular season record. They went undefeated at the Area Championship and finished 2-1-1 at the Section Tournament. Parent-volunteers Gudrun Enger, Drew Norris, Cathrine Baglo and Royal Farros coached the Lightning Wolves.
The Blue Jays also finished the regular season 8-1-1 and went undefeated in the Area Championship. Parent-volunteers Chris Francis and Mark Bakker coached the Blue Jays.
"There was something special about the 'chemistry' among the players on this Blue Jays team, which really showed in the Area 2A tournament. Making it to the Section 2 Tournament was simply icing on the cake," says Chris Francis, coach of the Blue Jays.
One of the highlights of the Section 2 tourney was the first game when the Blue Jays played side-by-side (on neighboring fields) with their Menlo Park GU12 counterparts, with both teams coming away with first-round victories.
The Lightning Wolves and Blue Jays were formed in late summer and began playing together in August 2013. All the players and volunteer coaches live in Menlo Park and Atherton.
These teams were among 150 teams that played soccer in Region 109 this year, with more than 1,600 children between the ages of 4 and 18 participating. Region 109 is all all-volunteer organization, and part of Area 2A that includes teams from Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Portola Valley, Mountain View and Sunnyvale.