The Daily Pilot Cup typically brings together teammates who have seldom, if ever played alongside one another outside of the construct of their school team.
The boys' fifth- and sixth-grade gold division unit from Mariners Elementary, however, does not face such a challenge.
Instead, the challenge falls on the Mariners' opponents, who must contend with a corps of talented players from the same Irvine-based West Coast Futbol Club team.
That challenge proved formidable for the Rea Sharks on Thursday, as Mariners produced a 5-0 pool-play win at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex.
Alec Blower, one of the aforementioned West Coast connection, had two goals and an assist to pace the Marlins, who are now 2-0 in the four-team pool after having topped Davis, 4-3, previously.
Zach Forbath, another West Coast player, had one goal, as did Pateadores club player Bryce Leonard, while Kori Griscom came off the bench to produce a goal for the winners.
Leonard, goalkeeper Paolo Belfiore (two saves), defender Santo Gezelin and offensive catalyst Jake Levine were all members of Mariners' third- and fourth-grade gold division champion in 2013.
Additional West Coast standouts included Dane Carroll, Hutton Wooters and Nick Sullivan, while Rhett Farmer and Jake Orloff rounded out the roster for Mariners Coach David Wooters.
"We have eight or nine club players," said David Wooters, who merely had to watch and appreciate the cohesive passing that typified his team's play.
Blower opened the scoring on a penalty kick in the 15th minute, then Griscom knocked a cross from Blower into the upper right corner just two minutes later.
Blower dribbled around a defender to create space in front for his left-footed goal in the 23rd minute and the half ended with the Marlins firmly in command.
Forbath spun directly in front of the goal before booting home his goal in the 28th minute and Leonard was credited with the final goal when the referee ruled that an apparent save by Rea goalkeeper Alan Gutierrez had in fact crossed the goal line in the 39th minute.
Blower now has three goals in the tournament, while Forbath has two.
Levine and Hutton Wooters scored in the Marlins' first pool-play win.
Two of Gutierrez's saves were highlight-reel worthy, while defender Pepe Flores kicked above his waist to clear a shot away near one goal post to deny another Mariners' scoring chance.
Elmer Orozco and Kevin Gutierrez were offensive catalysts for the Sharks, for whom Christian Nieto, Leo Garcia, Damian Meza, Christian Garcia, Chris Alberon, Edgar Xochipiltecato, Juan Alvarez, Nathan Sandoval and Justin Moreno also contributed.
Rea, now 0-1 in the tournament, is coached by Alex Duarte, with the help of assistant Ryan Baker.
"[The Marlins] played a great game," Baker said. "That's a good team with a lot of club players and they came out and took it to us. They are probably the favorite to win this thing."