Hurricanes storm the beachPublished 9:41pm Tuesday, June 11, 2013
The Hurricanes of the Suffolk Youth Athletic Association overcame a fierce rival and dominated most of the remaining competition to win their age division championship at the North American Sand Soccer Tournament in Virginia Beach over the weekend.
This was the second time the Suffolk Hurricanes have won in the five years they have gone to this event. They went undefeated this time, playing five games in their division, which included 16 teams. Across all age groups, the tourney featured 973 teams this year from all over the world, including those at the professional-amateur level.
Hurricanes head coach Stacy Pauley was proud of her team.
“They were very determined; none of them ever gave up,” she said. “They all gave 150 percent the entire time we were playing. And our competition, I think, was steeper here, than it was in Buckroe.”
The team placed second at the Buckroe Beach Sand Soccer tournament, the weekend before last. It was aided somewhat by cooler weather this past Saturday and Sunday and even a little rain, which helped pack the sand and allow for slightly improved mobility. Passing and volleying is paramount, as dribbling is largely impossible on the sand.
Because of a 10-player roster limit at the Virginia Beach tourney, the Hurricanes brought only their U-14 age players.
Teams played 5-on-5 with four players on the field and a goalkeeper for three 11-minute periods. The fields and goals were significantly smaller than traditional 11-on-11 soccer, emphasizing passing and strong defense.
“All weekend long, we only had four goals scored on us,” Pauley said.
She gave significant credit to goalkeeper Michael Landon, who she said had at least 50 saves throughout the five contests. The Hurricanes outscored their opponents 27-4, winning 5-1, 7-1, 9-1, 1-0 and then 5-1 in the title game.
While the goal is smaller, it does not mean the goalkeeper’s job is easier.
“I find it harder, because you’re taking more shots, and it’s more of a quick-paced game,” Landon said.
He gave credit to Jacob Littlefield for strong defensive help, and Pauley spotlighted Cody Faust and her son, Zachary Pauley, who also frequently played back.
On the offensive end, Landon praised the efforts of Daniel Tallarico, who led the team with nine goals.
After last year’s loss in the semifinals, Tallarico was pleased the Hurricanes advanced this year by defeating the Virginia Beach Galaxy, a rival in sand soccer, indoor soccer and traditional 11-on-11.
“They usually always end up beating us, so I guess we finally got our redemption,” he said.
That game posed the biggest challenge of the weekend, however, with a 0-0 score in the third period. Then, Landon threw the ball out to Tallarico, who headed it over a defender. Before it hit the ground, he caught it with a shot that scored the game’s only goal.
“It was one of my favorite goals that I’ve ever scored,” he said.
In the championship game against the Inferno, a Chesapeake team, the Hurricanes found themselves behind 1-0 in the second period off a penalty kick. Then, the Inferno were awarded another one later that Landon stopped.
“He saved the PK and got everybody rallied up and set the tone, and I think that’s how we won,” Tallarico said.
Taking advantage of the smaller field, Landon also got involved offensively from the goal.
“By throwing the ball, I had three or four assists,” he said.
Both players reflected on what it was like to be a part of such a huge international event as both player and spectator.
“It was pretty exciting to know that I was part of it and my team actually took first,” Landon said.
“We’ll watch the pros and everybody, and it’s just fantastic,” Tallarico said. “It’s just so much fun. And even if you don’t win, you’re sitting there hanging at the beach with your friends, so it’s cool.”