Soccer Squad Wins Nearby Tournament

Malibu Boys U12- Patriot Cup champions: Back row, from left: Coach John Franco, Diego Franco, Alex Sudmann, Nick Reinhold, Alex Roesler, Coach Jon Krawczyk, Maika Apana-Bates; center row, from left: Hudson Kory, Colin Murphy, Aidan Gunasekera, Evan Geft; front row, from left: Sammy Mankoff, Jak Krawczyk. Not pictured: Marcus Mortel

A team of young Malibu footballers was crowned champion at an area soccer tournament earlier this month. 

The 12-member Malibu boys 12-and-under team won first place in the 2014 Patriot Cup Tournament at Conejo Creek South Soccer Fields in Thousand Oaks on June 1. 

The U12 squad, coached by John Franco, defeated Thousand Oaks 2-0 in order to secure the U12 championship of the Area Youth Soccer Organization event. Ten-year-old Colin Murphy, a forward, and Diego Franco, 11, a mid-fielder, each scored a goal during the contest. 

Franco, a youth soccer coach for six years, said he and assistant coach Jon Krawczyk are very proud of their youth team. 

“They played together as a team, never gave up, and had a lot of fun in the process,” he said. “They passed well and stepped up when it mattered. They say, ‘Defense wins Championships,’ and we allowed only one goal in the tournament.” 

En route to the Patriot League title game the Malibu U12 team defeated three teams. The victories included a 1-0 win over Saugus, a 4-0 victory over Ventura, and a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Woodland Hills. 

The team played in the Patriot League’s Pool E. Overall, 24 teams competed in six different pools in the boys U12 division during the tournament, which began on May 31. 

Leading up to the two-day tournament in Thousand Oaks, the Malibu team, which is made up of nine 11-year-olds and three 10-year-olds, came in fourth place in a local all-star tournament of 12 teams, and made it to the championship game in last month’s Strawberry Cup tournament in Camarillo. The Malibu boys won three contests before bowing out in the championship game to Carpentaria by a score of 2-1. 

Along with Colin and Diego, other members of the Malibu U12 team included Adidan Gunasekera, Alex Sudmann, Alex Roesler, Evan Geft, Hudson Kory, Jak Krawczyk, Maika Apana-Bates, Marcus Mortel, Nick Reinhold and Sammy Mankoff. 

Franco said his team was excited after winning the championship. 

“These tournaments are hard to win, especially with a team that has no 12-year-olds on the roster,” he said. “The difference between an 11-year-old player and a 12 year-old player can be huge, but these boys played with heart and determination and were not going to be denied.” 

Franco added most of the U12 teams in the tournament were comprised of second year or 12-year-old players. 

He described the being the Patriot League champions as “special.” 

“This team was together last year in the U10 division, but the team has not had the same roster this year as some [players] have been recruited to play on other teams and some have had club commitments to honor,” he said. “We were able to get the boys together for one last tournament and it was sweet for everyone to share this victory together, parents as well as kids.”