Village News Correspondent
Vallecitos Elementary School hosted the Vallecitos Soccer Tournament Dec. 7 and the Vikings won the boys portion of the tournament.
“They’re one of the best teams that I’ve coached,” said Vallecitos boys coach Ray Hanbeck. “I’ve been coaching 23 years and they’re one of the most dominant teams I’ve been able to coach. They work really well together.”
Chris Smiley coached the Vallecitos girls, who placed second in their competition.
Seven small elementary schools in northern San Diego County and southern Riverside County participate in tournaments throughout the year with each school hosting a different sport. Warner Elementary School in Warner Springs did not have enough eligible and interested players for soccer, so initially six boys teams and six girls teams were slated to play in the Vallecitos Soccer Tournament. The high winds which fanned the Lilac fire southwest of Rainbow that day also caused the Borrego Elementary and Julian Elementary teams to cancel their trips to Rainbow.
“We had to make some last-minute changes,” Hanbeck said.
The tournament matches were played despite the fire, although the high winds moved numerous items throughout the day, including the goals. The third-place boys game had to be called because the goals were repeatedly blown away from where they were positioned.
“It was really exhausting, to say the least, trying to get everything done in those conditions, but the kids pulled through,” Hanbeck said. “I think that everything went as smoothly as it could possibly go. We were just lucky that the winds were blowing south and we didn’t get any smoke.”
Vallecitos, Pauma, Cottonwood (Aguanga), and Hamilton (Anza) each played two initial games using a 20-minute running clock with no halftime break or changing of sides. The semifinals also utilized a 20-minute running clock. The championship matches had 15-minute halves with a five-minute halftime break.
The Vallecitos boys began play with a 4-1 victory over Cottonwood. The game between Vallecitos and Pauma had a 2-2 score at the end of regulation, which triggered a penalty kick shootout ending with a Bobcats victory.
The Vikings and Bobcats faced each other again in the semifinal, and this time Vallecitos took a 3-1 victory in regulation.
Although Vallecitos had not played Hamilton during what otherwise would have been round-robin play, the Vikings and the Hamilton Bobcats faced each other in the championship game. Vallecitos won the championship with a 5-1 victory.
“I just was really proud of how the kids played well together,” said Hanbeck. “Their hard work paid off.”
Luis Ruiz led the Vikings with nine goals during the tournament.
“He was dominant,” said Hanbeck. “He was just basically running the ball around at will much of the time we were playing.”
Manny Arciga added three goals. Ivan Franco and Leo Hernandez scored a goal apiece.
Vallecitos midfielder Edgar Ortega led the team in assists. “He was in the thick of things,” Hanbeck said.
Christan Posey was the Vikings’ goalkeeper. “He played really well and he saved a lot of shots,” Hanbeck said.
The Vallecitos defenders were Angel Anaya, Sam Morales, Felipe Perez, and James Yahuaca. “Our defense was really strong this year,” Hanbeck said.
The Vallecitos girls obtained a 3-1 victory over Cottonwood and a 1-0 triumph against Pauma in the initial games and defeated Pauma once again in the semifinal. That placed the Vikings in the final against Cottonwood, whose 1-0 win gave the Cougars the championship and Vallecitos second place.
Tiffany Hernandez and Lizeth Alegria scored goals for the Vallecitos girls. Valentina Diaz handled goalkeeping duties for the Vikings.