It was perhaps fitting that the first Daily Pilot Cup game of the weekend at the Costa Mesa High stadium featured a pair of rivals from Costa Mesa.
Davis Magnet School and Kaiser Elementary faced off Saturday morning in a boys’ fifth- and sixth-grade Gold Division quarterfinal match. The result might not have been what some fans would expect.
The Ducks dethroned the Knights, as Eddie De La Cruz and Damien Soto scored for Davis in a 2-0 victory.
Kaiser’s core group of sixth-graders, coached by Newport Harbor High juniors Andrew Evans and Zack Weber, was going for its third straight title at the youth soccer tournament. Kaiser claimed the boys’ third- and fourth-grade Gold Division in 2016, and the fifth- and sixth-grade Silver Division last year.
The Knights also beat Davis 3-0 in a scrimmage leading up to this year’s tournament, Davis goalkeeper Rocco Villarreal said. But it will be the Davis Ducks that play Corona del Mar Harbor Day School in a semifinal Sunday at 9 a.m., back at the Costa Mesa High stadium. Costa Mesa Rea plays Corona del Mar Lincoln in the other semifinal.
The division’s title match is scheduled for 1:30 p.m., also at the stadium.
“[Kaiser has] more talent, but these guys showed more heart today, for sure,” Davis assistant coach Mike D’Alessandro said. “They really wanted to win it. It’s a definite upset, a huge upset. [Kaiser was] favored to win the whole thing. They were expecting to be in the finals … but that’s how the soccer ball rolls.”
D’Alessandro’s son, Kyle, set up Davis’ first goal in the 15th minute. His cross from the right was touched by Makayo Thomas to De La Cruz near the top of the box. His shot went in the left corner, past the diving attempt by Kaiser keeper Henry Slater.
Kaiser kept the pressure on early in the second half, trying for the equalizer. Benson Avila and Tomas Becerine had some of the best chances for the Knights, but the Davis defense stood tall. Villarreal made eight saves in the match, while sweeper Luke Sacuy and defenders Aidan Markert, Justin Harlow and Isa Ashraf kept denying Kaiser’s opportunities.
Davis got the insurance goal in the 52nd minute, when Soto volleyed Sacuy’s corner kick from the right into the back of the net.
“It feels good, because we got revenge and all my friends are on that team,” Sacuy said. “We played good, but we definitely can play better.”
As for Kaiser, it ended the impressive three-year run.
“We were just unlucky,” said Evans, whose younger brother James played center midfielder for the Kaiser side. “We definitely didn’t play how we usually play.”