CD Nacional from Portugal celebrate their pro division title at the COOP Beach Soccer Championships
Beach Soccer News: COOP Beach Soccer a Rousing Success
Once again the COOP Beach Soccer Championships drew thousands of players, families and fans to the sands of Oceanside Harbor. Over 30,000 people enjoyed three days of sun, fun and, of course, beach soccer over the Cinco de Mayo weekend. With teams from U-8 to professionals, there was more than enough action to please the most ardent fanatic of beach soccer.
According to tournament director Frank Zimmerman, with over 50 clubs registered in more than 40 divisions the Oceanside Beach Soccer Championships is the largest beach soccer tournament west of the Virginia Beach games in June. Youth teams came from as far as Bakersfield and beyond, while the pro division drew sides from Virginia, Hawaii and Portugal.
“People are calling us the Surf Cup of sand events,” Zimmerman said, “and we’re really pleased to be considered in that company because I’m a big Mike Connerley fan. He runs a first-class event and I would like to think we do the same here.”
The big draw of the weekend was the Professionals Division, featuring teams like SoCal Beach FC, Xoloitzuintles and CD Nacional from Portugal’s island of Madeira. While many of the teams brought home-grown fans to cheer their efforts, few were able to travel from Portugal, an eleven hour flight. Instead, CD Nacional drew from the large and vocal Portuguese community in Point Loma for their support.
SoCal Beach FC featured a number of local players, including goalkeeper Chris Toth who is the backup goalie for the San Diego Sockers and the son of legendary Sockers keeper Zoltan Toth. The team opened competition on Friday afternoon with a 3-2 win over Hawaii 5.0, followed by wins over Xoloitzuintles (6-3) and Hampton Roads Elite (4-3) on Saturday. Their success moved them into the semifinals against Shoreline Beach Soccer Club where SoCal Beach FC put on a beach soccer clinic, coming away with a resounding 8-2 victory and earning their ticket to the finals.
At the same time, CD Nacional were making their way up the ladder, opening on Friday with an 8-3 win over Shoreline Beach Soccer Club and an even more convincing 9-0 victory over Spartans on Saturday morning. A momentary bump in the road came that afternoon when Team 99 PUGG managed a 5-3 win over the Portuguese team, but that couldn’t keep CD Nacional out of the semifinals. In a tight match CD Nacional managed to defeat Hampton Roads Elite 3-2 to earn the right to face SoCal Beach FC in the finals.
The match did not start well for the internationals, and they found themselves down 3-1 at the second period. It was at that point the fire took hold and the comeback began. Urged on by their adopted fans, CD Nacional scored to pull within one, only to see SoCal Beach FC go back on top by two again. With time running out the Portuguese team pulled out all the stops, pushing to reach the back of the net against Toth.
The Portuguese side began their move by scoring on a penalty kick as the second period wound down. When a shot to the upper right corner went in at the mid-point of the final period to tie the match, the team and fans went crazy. Eight minutes later a wicked blast by João Nuno from in front of the net beat Toth and CD Nacional had their lead. As the seconds ticked off the noise from the stands became overwhelming, and when the horn sounded to end the match players and fans filled the sand singing and chanting “Campiones, campiones!”
At the end, CD Nacional was presented with a winner’s cup filled with sand from the beach where they had just won. Ricardo Jorge, at 48 the oldest player in the tournament, explained that the team had participated in 2011 and had reached the semifinals. “Last year we reached the semifinals and this year we reached the finals,” he said, “and since we are in the finals we should win and we won.”
“It was a really tough game with amazing opponents,” said Nuno, who scored the winning goal. “SoCal, really gave it up out there. We never gave up when we were losing 4-2 and we never gave up hope. We just left everything out there. I was fortunate to score today. It’s amazing. We came all the way from Portugal, and to win this tournament is really something. It gives me goose bumps.”
Goret Silva, who was born on Madeira but now lives in Point Loma, was nearly overwhelmed with emotion after the match. “We have so much pride in this team,” she said. “Madeira is a tiny little island, and you can’t imagine how proud we are of this team. And besides winning, it was a great game. We never gave up on the guys and they did a wonderful job.”
While the loss was hard for SoCal Beach FC, Toth put it into perspective. “We had it and we just let it slip out of our hands. It’s a tough loss but we’ll recover. We have another tournament coming up in Virginia.”
|South Bay Matrix took the Girls U-10 Sun division with a 6-2 win over Surf. It was the team's third trip to the tournament and their second time as champions.
||Desert United won the Girls U-19 with a 5-3 win over Ramona Inter. It was the team's second championship in three years, but a bittersweet victory as it was their last competition together. Ten members will move on to college in the fall.
While the professional game was the showcase of the day, scores of players at all levels experienced the highs and lows of the tournament. For the winners it was smiles and ribbons; for those who did not make the top, it was a chance to look back at what could be changed and prepare for the next match. For everyone it was a chance to enjoy a weekend at the beach and play great soccer.
“It was really fantastic this year,” said Zimmerman. “It’s funny, it really seems to keep growing with the pro event, but really it’s about the kids and the youth event is what makes this successful. We love seeing the kids. They’re all happy here on the stage, but it seems that all weekend and in the weeks building up they’re happy to be on the beach.”
Related Articles: Oceanside Beach Soccer; COOP Beach Soccer in Oceanside