Short player has big game

COSTA MESA — Second-grader Adoram Martinez-Villa may be the shortest player playing in the boys' third- and fourth-grade silver division, but his hat trick en route to Rea's 3-1 victory Friday showed he had the biggest game at the Daily Pilot Cup.

Martinez-Villa multiple times dribbled past Lincoln defenders from one side to another and showed off his range by scoring his two second-half goals from outside the penalty area.

Rea Coach Jose Olmedo said Martinez-Villa impressed him, too, for what he does off the pitch.

"He's the kind of guy who has the right spirit and the right attitude," he said.

But this game had multiple strikers who also played big.

Lincoln's Nick Vanvugt looked poised to score an equalizer until getting fouled couple feet behind the penalty area, setting up a free kick by another striker Jonathan Monday.

Monday's free kick then bounced off Rea's goalkeeper and Vanvugt finished off the play with Lincoln's lone goal.

"Opportunities will come," Lincoln Coach Max Premer, a Corona del Mar High freshman, said to his players. "I just told them to keep working their hardest."

Lincoln seemed to have Martinez-Villa in check after that goal as its goalkeeper Aidan Gamez made a reaching block.

However, Martinez-Villa's next attempt bounced off the goalie's hand and Rea regained its lead.

Olmedo added that couldn't have been done without the help from all his players.

"This is their first experience playing competitive sports for most of them," Olmedo said of his team made up of all second graders except two third-graders and two fourth-graders. "But they are at that level where they want to compete (and) they have the right attitude."

Lincoln again had an opportunity for an equalizer with a penalty kick in the second half. However, Monday's kick curved too much at the end and skidded just past the left post, just outside the reach of Rea's second-half goalkeeper Jesse James.

Martinez-Villa scored his third goal minutes later as it flew just under the top crossbar.

"That kid; second grader; absolutely incredible," Premer said. "I've never seen a player like that at such a young age. He really has a future."

Despite the loss, Premer, who played for Lincoln in the Pilot Cup as a boy, said he feels confident Lincoln can win the Cup next year and told his players to keep working hard.

"Heck, there's next year," he said, "and they always have an opportunity to get better."

Olmedo said his players are having a blast and the Pilot Cup has been the highlight of the year for them.

"To everyone sponsoring this event, this has been an awesome thing for the whole community," he said. "It gives the kids an opportunity to relax and at the same time give them discipline."

Premer, who plays junior varsity soccer and lacrosse, said he hopes to be back at this event for many years to come."

"I love the Pilot Cup," he said. "I wanted to give back to it, and here I am coaching. And I'd like to coach a little bit longer, too."

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