This article was written by PrepSoccer staff writer, Matt Smith. Matt Smith is a special news and communications correspondent with SF Elite Academy and will providing viewers with an inside look into SF Elite and what makes our club so special.
San Francisco Elite certainly left its mark on the Manteca Tournament. In a fitting end to the season, the SF Elite 2011 and 2012 boys teams did more than just show well in Manteca at the end of June... they were downright dominant. The 2012 team went undefeated in the tournament, winning all five matches, by a combined score of 31-2. The only close match came in the tournament final against El Camino Real FC of Salinas.
SF Elite's 2012's took the 1-0 lead, but found themselves level 1-1 with just minutes to play before Angel Hernandez scored the game-winning goal. "We knew going in it was going to be a tough game and it was a pretty even match," head coach Javi Hernandez said. "In the second half, we were tough against their high pressure and we contained their attacking midfielder very well." On their way to the final, they beat Juventus FC 4-0 and Manteca FC 3-0 in group play, then in the knockout stages topped Albion FC 15-0 before topping Juventus again, this time 7-1, in the semifinal. Jason Gomez was a standout player for SF Elite, handling the holding midfield spot and being an anchor for the team. Jeff Hernandez-Aguilera stood out as well, playing as a striker and on the right wink and did a good job of receiving the ball, creating opportunities by passing up the pitch and working for his teammates. Rafael Alarcon also played well on the left wing, opposite of Hernandez-Aguilera, and created a lot of width on the outside and with his left foot created great opportunites on crosses and getting down the line. Hernandez, who has been with this group for six months, gave high praise to coach Emerson Umana who has been with this group for two years.
The 2011 team reached the finals and came up just short in a very hard-fought contest with Fresno Football Academy, losing 1-0. The game was decided by just a couple of key moments as SF Elite missed a penalty in the first half, then Fresno gained a free kick with 20 minutes left in the match on a call that could have gone either way, and put a goal away. "We are asking the boys to bring their game to the next level," coach Mauricio Diaz De Leon said. "This will help us mature. There is nothing we can do about the outcome, but we can learn from it.
"We are asking the boys to bring their game to the next level," coach Mauricio Diaz De Leon said. "This will help us mature. There is nothing we can do about the outcome, but we can learn from it. "This team is very competitive and they are doing a great job of learning to win and compete." On Day One, in the group stage, the 2011 boys lost to Stockton FC in a 5-4 back-and-forth battle, then bounced back to top San Jose Rush 8-2 to finish the day. On the run-up to the final, SF Elite played two matches and as the No. 3 seed beat Juventus Academy 6-0 in the quarterfinals, then beat El Camino Real FC 3-0 in the semifinal. Up to the final, SF Elite outscored its opponents 21-7. The entire team played great and four players really stood out over the weekend. Brandon Lopez was great as the striker, scoring a bunch of the team's goals as he was very determined and creative up top. Levi Umanzor, who played as a forward on the outside, is a 2012 playing up and was excellent in 1v1 situations, getting down the line for crosses and shots and showed a lot of determination. Jahir Lazo did an excellent job sitting in as the defensive midfielder, doing a great job considering he recently came back from an injury that had kept him out since February. He did a great job of balancing out the attack and helping connect play between the back line and the forward players. Gabriel Mendoza was excellent as a center back and is a kid who can play any position and play them all well. He showed a good sense of the game, gave great effort and as a student of the game wants to learn how to play all positions and show his versatility.