AYSO Region 97 boys' U9 team wins title

In a real nail-biter of a match, the unbeaten AYSO Region 97 boys' U9 Newport Beach extra team headed by Coach Bruce Skibby won the championship match, 2-0 over the previously unbeaten Irvine extra team headed by Coach Mark Miller.

The championship match was played at the Tustin Sports Park Nov. 18.

In very fitting fashion, the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the regular season faced off to decide who would be the winner of the Fall AYSO Extra season. Both teams had an impressive 11-0-1 record arriving to the championship match. The only difference between them was the goal-differential record. During the regular season, Newport had a 34-4 advantage, wWhile Irvine had a 43-12 mark.

Irvine got off to an impressive start in the title match. Irvine immediately took possession and went to work on creating goal opportunities.

Newport defended well and looked for counterattack opportunities. Parents on both teams cheered and suffered at the same time while hoping for a breakthrough play to change the status quo. Such moments would only come halfway through the third quarter.

During a close play, Newport goalie Brandon Woods took a hit and had to leave the field temporarily. When the match resumed, right-wing fullback Nils-Henrik Fuertes took possession of the ball in the midfield and with impressive speed and agility overcame three Irvine players and the goalie to score the first goal of the match.

Newport parents went crazy and celebrated with hugs and wild cheering. After the first goal, the dynamic of the match changed completely. Newport found new confidence and took control of the ball and the match. They put to work their passing skills and began to create openings and goal opportunities. During a breakaway play, right-forward Charles Jeffs placed a beautiful high pass to the center where Canon Hall finished up with a beautiful shot to the goal. The referee called the game soon after.

Both teams showed true heart and sportsmanship in the field. For Coach Skibby's Newport team, this was a sweet validation of all their hard work. And as Coach Skibby excitedly remarked, "The focus on teamwork and passing had really paid off."

— Reader submission

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