The recent AYSO National Games brought more than 7,000 young soccer players to Torrance — double the usual size for the event’s 50th anniversary — and two of the nearly 500 teams competing were the Davis Galaxy and the Davis Blazers FC.
The Galaxy finished as the third-best U14 girls squad in the country, while the U16 Blazers proved their mettle by playing tough with just 10 boys available.
The locals participated in a weeks worth of events, starting with an opening ceremony that included a Parade of Teams through the L.A. Galaxy’s StubHub Center. Also on the docket were a L.A. Galaxy match and a SoccerFest day with 11-player teams randomly selected from different cities and states.
Davis’ version of the Galaxy did its best work when playing together, outscoring opponents, 30-7, in eight games at the national tournament. The local girls won five of their first six outings to reach the semifinals, then shut out Manhattan Beach, 2-0, in the third-place match.
Even more impressive for the Galaxy was that their only losses came by one goal each to the No. 1 and 2 seeded teams. The strong run featured great performances from the entire local roster as Odessa Seng paced the offense with nine goals, while Julia Alali, Jasmine Brayton, Celeste Kaplan and Khalida Pergher added four apiece.
The rest of the scoring came on two tallies each from Grace Mariano and McKenna Chupka, who also excelled at keeper, and Lexi Kornblum’s header goal.
Kaplan also played well on defense, where she teamed with Leah Pinto, Delaney Seward, Bailey Thompson and Kyla Winton. The influential Galaxy midfield saw strong play from Claire Stevens, and Jessica Barber provided offensive pressure for coaches Steve Winton and Scott Brayton.
Even injured players Carolanne McLennan and Tarin McMorrow were vital to the Galaxy’s success, with constant encouragement and strategy suggestions for their teammates.
Meanwhile, with just 10 players available, the Blazers had to expend maximum energy each time out but still found it within themselves to earn an award by leading the 24 squads in the U16 boys division in Sportsmanship Points.
The locals finished 0-4-1, but the hard work of Shayan Bagheban, Jesse Brandt, Matthew Grabert, Roberto Halpin, Scott Korinke, Aaron Moore, Andrew Roessler, Connor Thompson, Bijan Varjavand and Jacob Westlund wasn’t lost on coaches Roger Cleaves and Mike Westlund.