VC United to rep state, county at national competition
During the high school soccer season, the 12 athletes who play for the VC United soccer squad on the soccer fields aggressively competing against one another wearing the colors of Belen, Valencia and Los Lunas high schools.
But come this spring, you’ll find them on the practice pitch in Los Lunas three to four days a week, practicing together to compete on a national level.
Their team name, VC United (Valencia County United) illustrates their pride in sportsmanship and desire to represent everyone in the county, not just their local school.
The squad went undefeated in the under-19 division in Albuquerque and placed second at the Duke City Shootout tournament last month in Bernalillo.
Now these players, along with their parents, coaches and volunteers, will represent the county at the American Youth Soccer Organization’s 2014 National Games, the largest youth soccer tournament ever staged by the AYSO.
Nearly 500 teams from across the nation will participate in the tournament, which takes place June 29 to July 7, in Riverside and Torrance, Calif. The tournament is being held to commemorate the AYSO’s celebrates 50th anniversary.
This is the first time a team from Valencia County’s AYSO Region 515 has been selected to compete at the National AYSO Games in California.
The majority of VC United’s players are 15 to 16 years old. At the AYSO National games, the team will be facing teams of 19-year-olds from around the globe.
Coach Jay Peters and assistant coach Jack Siamu, who are both from the local area, have coached players in the AYSO programs from ages 4 through 19 for more than 25 years between them. The two said recently that they are very positive about their team and their chances for success in California.
“These kids are not just good players, but good kids,” Peters said. “They understand the game, support their team mates and appreciate the magnitude of this opportunity to represent their local communities.”
Because they were the only team in their age group chosen from the entire area, including Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Arizona, they know they are representing much more than New Mexico, Peters said.
At the National Games, the team will take part in an Olympic-style Opening Ceremony and then participate in a tournament that largely uses the same model as the FIFA World Cup, which is currently happening in Brazil.
In the World Cup format, teams have “pool play, a series of round robin qualifying games to determine final placement in the pool. Pool play is followed by a single-game elimination playoff. Unlike the World Cup, however, teams will also be judged on good sportsmanship in addition to wins, ties and losses.
“Regardless of the score sheet when it is all over, this is a local success story about a small group of our teenage boys that should make every Valencia County resident proud,” Peters said. “I am proud of their accomplishments and look forward to seeing these boys apply what they have learned on the pitch to their own life.”
The group has been holding car washes, working concessions stands and fund raising any way they can to defray their expenses for the trip to California. Those interested in donation or sponsorship information should contact Coach Peters at Coachj@ayso515.com or 909-904-2673.