Lightning strikes Buckroe sandPublished 8:54pm Wednesday, June 5, 2013
The Suffolk Youth Athletic Association sent seven soccer teams from a playing field of grass to the beach this past weekend. All the teams produced wins, but the co-ed U-19 Lightning squad fared the best by winning the championship in its division at the Buckroe Sand Soccer tournament at Buckroe Beach in Hampton.
The co-ed U-15 Hurricanes finished second.
Like the Hurricanes, the Lightning was competing in the event for the fifth year.
“They had won Buckroe two years ago, and then came back and did it again,” Lightning coach Stacy Pauley said. “Hurricanes won it last year, so it’s like they alternate.”
Of the 50-60 teams at the event, there were eight at the U-19 level, but since only two were co-ed in addition to the Lightning, the trio was put in its own division.
Sand soccer presents a special challenge for teams used to playing on grass.
On grass, dribbling is the fundamental means of movement in soccer; a player gently taps the ball to keep possession as he or she runs. Because of all the dips in the sand, this form of movement is impossible in sand soccer.
“So whenever we practice sand soccer, we always work on volleying the ball,” Pauley said.
Passing is the key to moving the ball around, and not just by kicking straight to a teammate, but by getting a foot under the ball and lifting it over defenders. Similar efforts of getting the ball airborne are necessary to score.
“Some of the kids do bicycle kicks to put the ball in the net,” Pauley said. “We’ve had headers.” Throw-ins were allowed at the tourney, which created opportunities for receiving players to score mid-air through a kick or header.
Unlike traditional soccer, the games at Buckroe were played in three 10-minute periods. Players either go barefoot or wear sand socks.
“You have four on the field and one in the net, and it’s not so much that you play two-offense, two-defense,” Pauley said. “Sometimes it just depends on the game. Sometimes you’re pushing three up and keeping one back, but it’s fast-paced just like the 3v3 (style) is, because they’re moving up and back and they’re all having to defend, all the time.”
All of the action takes place on a smaller field, with smaller goals than normal. While there are still corner kicks, there is no such thing as off-sides.
“It’s just very, very different,” Pauley said. “People that have never played it before, sometimes it takes a little while for them to adapt.”
The Lightning benefited from having a veteran nucleus, but filled out a roster of 11 with a few newcomers, including former Suffolk Christian Academy goalkeeper Julia Jackson.
“This was the first time she’d ever played sand soccer, and she didn’t play keeper,” Pauley said. “She actually played on the field, and she even scored.”
Every member of the team scored, except for Dustin Telles, who delivered a stellar performance in goal. The Lightning had to play each team once, and by winning both games, earned a berth in the championship game. Telles played a huge role in the Lightning’s success.
“He definitely worked very well, because our first game we won 5-1, the second game we won 12-1 and the final game was 4-1,” Pauley said.
He had 25 saves during the tourney.
AJ Jenkins led all scorers on the team with five goals, while Christian Barrie had four and David Raines had three.
Pauley said Quamain Knight, Austin Raines and Antone Bland had excellent defensive efforts.
The Lightning, Hurricanes and three other SYAA teams will be back in action this weekend at the North American Sand Soccer Tournament in Virginia Beach.