Local soccer players recently jetted to Southern California for a high-profile tournament and returned to the East Coast as winners.
In Los Angeles, they hit the beaches, hung out with local soccer pros and took in a soccer match in a pro venue.
Club members had to watch their partying, though. They were accompanied by their parents.
Six members of the Colum-bia County Patriots Under-10 boys soccer club teamed with members of the South Bay (California) Soccer Club. The clubs combined to win a division of the Copa Real Nike Invitational, held in Woodland Hills on Jan. 19-20.
"Everything was smooth," Patriots coaching director Wes Meadows said. "It was nothing but positive things -- not only playing in the tournament, but playing that level of competition."
The Patriots played two matches Jan. 19 and two the next day, outscoring their opponents 11-2 during the two days. But this was no two-day trip.
The players, coaches and parents arrived Jan. 16 and returned Jan. 22. Before the competition, the club participated in clinics and training and played soccer on the beach. A bright spot for the players, Meadows said, was receiving tips from a member of Major League Soccer's L.A. Galaxy, who helped coach the South Bay Club, and traveling to the Galaxy's Home Depot Center to watch the U.S. team battle Sweden.
"It was a great experience for the kids, not just from a soccer standpoint, but from a cultural aspect as well," Meadows said.
Meadows was contacted about the tournament by a former colleague, Paul Soufl, a coach for the South Bay Club. Meadows and Soufl coached together in Hawaii before Soufl moved to L.A. and Meadows back to Columbia County, where he is from.
The Patriots' performance in California earned them an invitation to the Surf Cup, in San Diego at the end of July.
"We're definitely looking at doing it again," Meadows said.
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