Other Copa champions
- San Diego Surf White, under-10 boys
- Carmel Valley Manchester Red, under-10 boys
- San Diego Surf Blue, under-10 girls blue
- Del Mar/Carmel Valley Sharks 99 White. under-10 girls
- San Diego Surf Black, under-11 girls
- DM/CV Sharks Gold, under-13 girls
- CV Manchester, under-14 girls
- DM/CV Sharks White, under-15 girls
By Fred Baron
The North County area hosted more than 200 teams from throughout California, Washington and Utah for the fourth annual Copa Del Mar Sharks Invitational Tournament held Aug. 1 through 3.
It's often said that the level of competition in invitational youth soccer tournaments can be estimated by how few of the home club's teams win. If that's so, then the boys side of the tournament must have been really competitive, because only the most senior Del Mar/Carmel Valley Sharks Boys Team emerged with a championship trophy from the event, held at various San Diego sites.
Just a few months ago, this premier-level boys under-18 White team would have been an unlikely choice to go so far, as the team was riddled with coaching and player personnel changes last winter.
However, this spring, things got sorted out nicely when Johnson Asiedu took over as the new director of the Sharks Boys Program and Roy Ashcroft became the team coach. They took a core of last year's players, added some new talent, and brought back some prior team members who had taken time off.
But another setback hit when four players were injured in the regrouped team's first practice scrimmage; most notably striker Mark Luna, who suffered an injury costing him almost two months of practice and tournament play.
However, when Copa Del Mar time came the team was ready; most of the injured players were back and no players were borrowed - a common, but controversial, practice in invitational tournament play.
The team got through Bracket Play by beating both the Aztecs Premier team and the La Jolla Nomads by 2-1 scores. That set up a semifinal against the Xtreme Bulldogs, which ended in a 2-2 tie, setting up a penalty dick shootout, where the team scoring the most of 5 attempts against the opponent's goalkeeper would win and advance.
What occurred had not been seen before by most of the players or their families and fans: Veteran goalkeeper Julian Trupe, after saving several goal attempts in the second half of the game, successfully blocked all of the penalty kicks attempted by the Bulldogs, sending the Sharks to the Championship Game, where they defeated the Crusaders Soccer Club 3-1 to take the trophy.
Champions and finalists were recognized in an awards ceremony after the final game and were presented medals and trophies by Asiedu Sharks director of boys coaching.
While this was a team effort, the play of now-healthy striker Mark Luna was mentioned by the opposing coach during the trophy and medal presentation and for good reason, he scored six of the goals the Sharks netted during the tournament.
Shannon MacMillan, director of girls coaching for the Sharks is currently out on maternity leave but looks forward to seeing teams back for the 2010 Copa.