Mammoth Lakes U15 Boys Win Cookie’s Best

A local boys’ soccer team came in first place in the 15-and-under age category last weekend in Carson City. Known as the “White” team, coached by Felipe Alejandre and Paul Quilty, the team is comprised of Mammoth Lakes boys ages thirteen through fifteen. The team played three games of shutout ball, rolling over the competition 3-0, 2-0, and 2-0. In the final against Truckee, Jairo Yanez scored in the third quarter, and the team got an insurance point in the fourth quarter on a deft boot by Alberto Quintana Catalan.

The ability to convert on opportunities proved pivotal to the Mammoth Lakes team’s success as both of the goals in the second game resulted from corner kicks. “Our set plays were really precise,” said Assistant Coach Paul Quilty. The team also put on a spectacular defensive performance by the back line who held their opponents to only a few shots on goals, and by the goalies or porteros, Kekoa Kailiawa and Miguel Garcia Moreno, who quashed those attempts.

Other Mammoth Lakes teams did their town proud at the tournament. The U10 Boys came in second place, as did the Mammoth Lakes U15 girls. The U10 boys played four games, winning three and losing in the final by only one point. They were coached by Juan Lopez, their regular coach’s father, who stepped in when his son, Jonathan Lopez, had to work that weekend. The U15 Girls did not play in the final but were awarded second place based on their total point score.

The AYSO Cookie’s Best tournament is an annual event where Mammoth teams compete against Truckee, Carson City area teams, and Lake Tahoe area teams. Mammoth Lakes frequently performs well, and a number of teams over the years have earned championship medals. “Mammoth Lakes has some of the toughest teams up there,” said Stuart Need, AYSO regional commissioner. “For a small town, we do pretty well.” Soccer is the biggest youth sports program in town, with over 600 kids participating.

Winners of the tournament typically advance to a section tournament in Foster City in the Bay Area in early December. This year, because the U15 team includes many 14- and 15-year-olds who are ineligible to play in the Foster City tournament structure, it is unclear whether or not they will go. “We’re trying to make it happen for them,” said Need.

The U15 boys’ path to the tournament had not been an easy one. They had competed against the other strong Mammoth teams in the local Joe Stapp tournament two weekends previously to determine who would have the honor of representing Mammoth at Carson City. Felipe Alejandre’s team, the White team, had been defeated in the first game 2-1 by Mel Solorio’s Red team. But White struggled back through the loser’s bracket in this double-elimination tournament, winning two successive games, to again face Red in the final. At the end of a long hard day, the teams seemed evenly matched, moving the ball up and down the field in the gathering dusk, making multiples attempts on goal, but neither team able to score. Then with seconds on the clock, with the score still tied at 0 to 0, after the back field sent a tremendous pass up the field, Jesus “Chuy” Rodriguez Rangel pivoted and re-directed the ball into goal to win the game, the final and the tournament. That lone last-second goal made the difference between heading to Carson City or staying home.

© 2015 Jennifer K. Crittenden

This story originally appeared in the Mammoth Letters.