Azzurri soccer team has memorable season

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The Carson City Capital Soccer Club's Capital Azzurri 14 and under boys team recently completed a memorable season, winning three tournament titles and the league championship.

The team first came together five years ago as 9-year-olds, playing under the name, El Nino. During that first season, the team won the local league title. During another season, the team won another league crown and came close to winning tournament titles.

As Capital Azzurri this past season, the team put it all together, beginning in November by winning the Carson Valley's Tournament. Azzurri beat North Tahoe, Truckee and Mammoth all by 3-0 scores. In the finals, Azzurri fell behind 2-0 in the first 10 minutes, but came back to win 3-2 in double overtime on Royal Good's game winning game.

In April, Azzurri faced tougher competition in the Comstock Shootout, with more than 90 boys teams competing. Azzurri defeated Antioch Delta United 4-2 before facing DVSC Milan, a three-time Comstock champion.

Azzurri won 6-1, handing Milan its only loss in four years at the Comstock event. Milan was also runner-up in the California Cup, the state championship for California teams.

Azzurri went on to beat RSU Orange 7-0 and defeated the Reno Strikers 3-0 in the finals, becoming the first team to win the Kit Carson and Comstock Tournaments in the same season.

In the Concord Cup in California, Azzurri lost to the JC Chivas of San Francisco 5-2, but rallied for a 5-0 win over the Palo Alto Pumas. Rain canceled the final matches and Azzurri finished third in the point standings.

Azzurri went on the win the Stockton World Cup, outscoring its opponents 34-2. Goalie Bud Kop posted shutouts against Mountain View (13-0), Concord (6-0) and Pleasant Hill (5-0). Azzurri beat Pacifica 5-2 and then defeated the South Bay League Big Dogs 4-0 in the finals.

"This was a particularly satisfying victory for our boys," coach Don Thayer said. "In past years the Big Dogs defeated us in a couple of tournament playoffs and championship games. This one felt good."

Azzurri wrapped up its season against the South Tahoe Galaxy in a battle of two unbeaten teams in the 14 and under Great Basin Youth Soccer League. Azzurri won 6-0.

"Winning our league championship was frosting on a great cake," Thayer said.

Azzurri finished with a 20-2 record. Defenders Joseph Schwedhelm, Edgar Gomez, Kevin Brush, Derwin Leigh Jr. and Matt Mitchell, Ryan Dwyer and Ryan Kirkhoven limited opponents to 18 goals during the season.

"Most of these young men have played together before for several years," Thayer said. "The addition of our two newest and youngest players, Ryan Dwyer and Ryan Kirkhoven, added even more to a strong squad."

Azzurri scored 120 goals on the season. Forwards Steve Mandoki, co-captain Jeremiah Teeter and Logan Ahl led the attack.

Midfielders Loren Wooldridge, Tyler Metcalf, Royal Good and co-captain Evan Thayer were dominant throughout the season.

"Games are won and lost in the midfield and our midfield was clearly a catalyst in every one of our wins," coach Thayer said. "I'm particularly proud of how these boys functioned as a team. The key to our success was not any single player, it was how the boys got along as a team."

Every player on the team scored at least one goal during the season.

All of the players have just completed eighth grade and most will be looking to join Carson High's successful program.

"There are several strong teams here in Carson City," coach Thayer said.

Among the team's sponsors were RTP Corp., Greater Nevada Credit Union and LSP Products.


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