Two under-19 teams from the San Diego area--the La Jolla-based San Diego Nomads and the San Dieguito Surf--will meet for the California State Cup youth soccer title today at 2 at Cal Poly Pomona.
In the under-16 division, the Nomads will play the El Cajon Hotspurs at 1 p.m. for the Southern California title and a chance to play in the Western Regionals of the national tournament in June.
"This is the pinnacle of the boys' current season," Nomad Coach Derek Armstrong said of the matchup between his under-19 team and the Surf. "Obviously, San Dieguito will be well up for this one. We know that and think it's going to be a very, very tough game. It's a culmination of a season's work."
In youth soccer, teams may apply to play in the California State Open tournament--which ends with a state champion--or the national preliminary tournament. The Nomads fielded an under-19 team in the national tournament, but lost a tiebreaker to Fram of Torrance in the quarterfinals.
The Nomads' California Cup under-19 team is composed of younger players than those on the team that played in the nationals. Most of the players were on last year's under-16 team that lost in the national semifinals.
In the fall, the Nomads' under-19 team won the Presidio Soccer League title and defeated the San Dieguito Surf, 3-1, during the regular season. The Surf, which has players from San Dieguito and Torrey Pines high schools, finished third in the league.
Mike Neylan, San Dieguito's first-year coach, said he's surprised his team has advanced this far.
"If anybody would have told me I was going to be in the finals, I would have told them they were crazy," Neylan said.
San Dieguito, which had won three games in the past three years, has never before advanced past the quarterfinals.
"We played the quarterfinals with three or four players missing because of Easter," Neylan said. "In the semifinals, we were forced to play the second half with only 10 players after one player got hurt. We scored with three minutes left and won, 1-0. There's been a lot of determination shown on the part of the team."
The Nomads' under-16 team has been the regional champion the past three years, which Armstrong said has never been done before. But before advancing to the regionals, the Nomads have to win the California South championship.
"It's so hard to win the California South," Armstrong said. "I think if we get through this one, we'll be in good shape for the regionals because we'll have a lot of time to prepare for it."
The Nomads have defeated the Hotspurs twice this year.