Daily Pilot Cup: 'Jake rabbit' leads Harbor Day

COSTA MESA — Jacob Muchnick sped around the soccer field, seemingly never needing a break.

Nobody on the Harbor Day sideline Sunday afternoon was surprised. The third-grader’s mom, Cindy, didn’t have to raise an eyebrow at her son’s performance in the boys’ third-and fourth-grade silver division title game of the Daily Pilot Cup.

“I call him the ‘Jake rabbit,’ ” Cindy Muchnick said. “At night, when he goes to bed, I say, ‘The reason you’re so good at soccer is because you kicked inside my belly so much.’ ”

Jacob Muchnick might find that story embarrassing, but everyone saw the “Jake rabbit” on display at the Costa Mesa Farm Sports Complex. Whittier couldn’t miss him, as Muchnick scored twice and had three assists in Harbor Day’s 6-0 victory.

Muchnick plays on the Irvine Strikers club team and the AYSO Region 57 Plus team, with kids that are a year or two older. He probably could have scored more Sunday, but he was the playmaker, with his big runs up the field. He had numerous crosses to teammates and expertly played the ball ahead, even trying a give-and-go or two. The one goal he scored was spectacular, as he took a long, bouncing goal kick from goalie Jake Hamilton, controlled it and made a move on the Whittier goalie before scoring.

Muchnick’s older brother Justin is a sixth-grader and also played in the tournament. Both made their father, Coach Adam Muchnick, proud. But so did the team play of the Harbor Day winners, from Zack Karro’s three goals to single goals from Cameron Schwartz and Matteo Merage. They played well against a Whittier team that had allowed just four combined goals in four previous games.

Then again, Harbor Day scored a division-high 33 goals in its five Pilot Cup games.
“We need everybody,” Karro said. “It’s a team.”

It helped to have Jacob Muchnick. He scored 19 goals in the tournament.

Then there was the defense of Corbin Vaicek. Harbor Day had heard about the Whittier forward and top goal-scorer Carlos Guerrero, the one with the purple cleats. So Adam Muchnick gave Vaicek one job.

“We ‘hawked’ him with Corbin Vaicek,” Muchnick said. “The amazing thing [is that] if you were just watching the game, nobody would know who their best player was. [Vaicek] just shut [Guerrero] down. The entire 60 minutes, he focused on his job. I gave him one job to do, which was always stay absolutely so close to him that he could touch him.
“He did his job for 60 minutes. Actually he did his job for 59 minutes; I took him out for the last minute so he could get a standing ovation.”

Whittier defender Ricardo Arce made a goal-saving play in the first half, before the game was decided. Goalie Victor Guadarrama finished with nine saves.

John King, Peter Shea, Solomon Sonnenshine, Gunner Gehl, William Stomber, Nick Walkow, Alex Bishop and James McConnaughey also contributed for champion Harbor Day. McConnaughey was the team’s defensive stopper.

All Harbor Day players were third-graders. They also all contributed to what Adam Muchnick said was the team mantra, “HOGO,” which stands for “Hustle Our Guts Out.”

The team even got a guy to come and shoot video of the final, which would be made into DVDs for each player.

“We were hoping we won,” Cindy Muchnick said as she collected $15 each from the parents for the DVDs. “We didn’t want to be presumptuous.”

But her husband knew that his team had a good shot.
“It came down to the whole team playing hard together,” Adam Muchnick said. “I knew we had the talent. As long as they actually hustled, I thought we would be in pretty good shape.”

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