Youth soccer: Breakers packing their bags for Italy
Sentinel Staff Report
SENTINEL STAFF WRITER
SANTA CRUZ — Back in May, the Santa Cruz Breakers under-19 Class I boys soccer team thought its season could have no better ending. The team accomplished one of its season goals when it advanced to the California State Cup championship game against Central Valley United on May 5.
Then the Breakers played flawless soccer to thrash United, 3-0. A pair of former Harbor Pirates provided the offensive punch — Andres Flores fired two goals into the net and got the assist on the third goal — scored by Hector Guzman.
Imagine the surprise several weeks later when Cabrillo College women’s soccer coach Paolo Carbone informed the team he had made arrangements for the Breakers to play in one of Europe’s most prestigious youth soccer tournaments over the summer. The tournament — dubbed the 9th Annual Mauro Lanari Memorial International — is based in Milan, Italy. Carbone then promised that this tournament would be unlike any the Breakers had ever competed in before.
The only question remaining was: Could the Breakers raise enough money to take the trip? “Anyone can go to Europe and play in a summer soccer tournament,” Carbone said. “There’s a big difference between those kinds of tournaments and this one.”
The Breakers are scheduled to leave for Milan on Aug. 14 and will face two-time tournament winner, Roma, in the first round of pool play on Aug. 17. This particular Roma serves as the main feeder team for the Italian soccer league first division power by the same name. The other two teams in the Breakers’ pool are a pair of Italian second-division teams — Ternana and Ascoli. The matches are scheduled for three consecutive days, Aug. 17-19.
After pool play, the top two teams from each group advance to the quarterfinals.
If everything goes right, the Breakers could appear in the championship game on Aug. 24. “The Breakers are going to play the cream of the crop,” Carbone said. “I felt I could pull some strings to get a team from Santa Cruz in the tournament.”
As it turned out, it took only one phone call from Carbone to convince his Italian friends the Breakers belonged in the 14-team tournament. “People in Italy respect my opinion, and a good friend of mine was placed on the selection committee two years ago,” Carbone said. “I waited because I wanted Santa Cruz to be proud of the team representing it in Italy.”
Since the Breakers will be the first American club team to play in the tournament, both the Italians and Carbone are keenly interested to see how they will fare.
“I’m very curious to see how the players will react, if they will be able to step up to the next level,” Carbone said. “I think the Breakers will be impressed by the tournament. They’ll be treated like professionals and receive quite a bit of attention from the Italian press.”
Breakers coach Sergio Sierra said his team will not only compete in Italy, it will win.
What concerned Sierra, however, was finding the money for the trip.
“It takes a lot of money to put together this kind of team in the first place,” Sierra said. “Adding a trip like this is even more expensive, but it’s the only way to express our local talent at the international level.
“Every major soccer team in Europe sends scouts to the tournament, looking for new talent — it’s a unique opportunity.”
In order for the Breakers to stay in the black, the team will need to raise about $13,000.
“The tournament kicked in $15,000 and Larry Biggam paid for the plane tickets,” Sierra said. “That means every player needs to raise $700 to cover costs. Many players on the team come from disadvantaged families and it’s been a struggle for them.”
Between now and Aug. 14 the team is looking for ways to raise the rest of the money for the trip.
“If there are individuals or businesses interested in helping sponsor the team, that would be great,” Sierra said. “The opportunity to play in this tournament is immense. The kids deserve to have it happen.”
For information or to make a donation contact Mary Sierra at 459-2548 or send an e-mail to: email@example.com.
Contact Ben McMorries at firstname.lastname@example.org.