Over the November 15th thru 17th weekend, our B12 LAFC team traveled to Monterrey, Mexico to compete in a top Mexican tournament, the Copa Rayados. We did this knowing that our boys would have to compete against older and bigger boys from top teams from across Mexico of the 1996 birth year (our team had a number of 97’s and 96’s born after August, 96 — a big hurdle at this young age). From a club standpoint, we wanted to validate that American youth soccer, and LAFC yoiuth soccer in particular, is as good as it gets in the world. Well, we did that.

Our B12’s rocked the tournament and stunned the Mexicans with the play of our boys. In pool play, we went 4 - 0, scoring 22 goals with 2 against (both off free kicks) and were seeded #1 going into the playoffs. We won the quarter-final 6 - 0 and the semi-final 2 - 1. In the championship game Monday, we played Monterrey 96 (semi-finalists in the Mexico wide 96 tournament), ended the game in a 0 - 0 draw, but lost in PK’s. Just an amazing performance.

We also experienced something else very interesting this weekend in Mexico. Yes, we really got the attention of the Mexicans with the performance of our B12’s. But more interestingly, we amassed quite a few fans to the extent that for the finals played in the stadium field, LAFC had more fans in the stands than the local favorite, Monterrey 96. And what the fans were chanting and yelling was “Chelsea, Chelsea, Chelsea” even though we were listed and referred to by the tournament officials as the Los Angeles Futbol Club. But we wore Chelsea uniforms. And that’s how we were identified by the fans. Very, very, interesting.

Congratulations to super coach Barry Ritson and his amazing players.

19 / November / 2008  Team Highlights  Comments (11)

Pasadena Star News

Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer
November 13, 2008

Nine area athletes put the recruiting process to bed by taking part in the early period of signing national letters of intent on Wednesday. Some held special ceremonies in front of coaches, fans and family members as the cameras flashed, while others simply just signed.

Regardless, the day was special because it not only meant the recruiting process was over, but also that they’d just signed to play for the school of their dreams.

Pasadena High School’s Joe Henson signed with San Jose State. The 6-foot-8, 240 pound forward averaged 10 points and eight rebounds in the second half of the season after sitting out the early part because of hip surgery. “The recruiting process was good,” Henson said. “But I chose San Jose State because I really liked the coaches and the conference.” Henson will lead a Bulldogs team that finished 22-8 overall and 7-1 in Pacific League play.

La Cañada shortstop Eric Smith signed to play at Stanford. The senior batted .625 with an on-base percentage of .724, scored 30 runs, had 18 RBIs and committed only one error last season for the Spartans.

Pasadena Poly’s Felicitas Lenz (diving) and Andrew Saeta (swimming) will attend Northwestern and Stanford, respectively.

Arcadia’s Morgan Barchan was recruited to play softball at North Carolina State but the outfielder instead decided on Southern Illinois because her cousin, Haley Gorman, plays softball there, too. Barchan batted .481 with four home runs and 20 steals last season for the Apaches.

Kevin Mejia is completing his senior year at Marshall and will attend Boston College. The forward helped his club soccer team, LAFC, finish second in the nation last year when the U.S. Soccer Academy concluded. He was among the top 20 highly-sought soccer recruits in the country, according to one web site. Mejia had offers from North Carolina, Maryland, Connecticut and UC Santa Barbara, but chose Boston College because he “felt it was the right school for me academically and athletically.”

Muir’s girls basketball team will hope to continue its dominance after a 28-3 regular-season record and a perfect 11-0 season in Pacific League play last year. The Mustangs will be led by 6-foot center Brittany Henderson, who signed with Kentucky, and Eliza Pierre who signed with California. “I really liked the family atmosphere,” said Henderson who also was recruited by UC Santa Barbara, Providence, Morgan State and Houston. Pierre, who visited UCLA and Arizona before deciding on the Golden Bears, said it was a good fit for her at Cal and would compete for a starting spot.

Mayfield’s Susan Carlson is playing in her final season with the Cubs and hopes to get past Magnolia in today’s second round of the volleyball playoffs.

Carlson, who has 203 kills, 33 aces, and 130 digs, will continue to play volleyball at Georgia Tech next season.

13 / November / 2008  In the News  Comments (0)
It Seemed Like Any Other Spring Evening
at Maranatha High School.

The football field was covered with girls wearing LAFC red — eagerly following the lead of their respective coaches and working hard on skills and strategy. On one side of the field was the GU14 White team, 16 girls who were diligently working on the skills their new coach Esteban Chavez had been teaching them. One of those girls was Jessie Mastan. A star on her middle school track team, and a gifted defender on the soccer field, Jessie had been transitioning onto an offensive position where her lightning fast speed and her nose for the goal matched brilliantly.

But during a scrimmage on that warm spring evening, Jessie toppled in an otherwise fair tackle, but could not get up from the grass. Fighting off tears of pain, but wanting to get back up and into the game, Jessie lay on the field until Teddy arrived to pick her up. Thinking it was the recurrence of a hip problem that had troubled her earlier in the season, Jessie and her family decided it was time to revisit the doctor.

Five days later, having had an x-ray and MRI of her hip, Jessie’s family learned that her struggle was greater than anyone would imagine. Jessie was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer that had rapidly formed a tumor on her pelvis and had moved even more aggressively to her lungs. In the capable hands of the brilliant doctors and researchers at the City of Hope, Jessie began an aggressive attack of the tumor through chemotherapy. She finished out her school year at home, underwent chemotherapy every two weeks, and still managed to find time (when she felt up to it) to sit next to Coach Esteban at games to learn the team’s new formation and strategy.

With the support of their community of friends, and a solid spiritual foundation, the Mastans’ aggressive attack on the tumor was miraculously successful. After seven rounds of chemotherapy, the disease in Jessie’s lungs disappeared and the disease in the left pelvic bone was almost completely eliminated. It was cause for celebration! But Jessie’s battle did not end there since without an even more aggressive treatment, the cancer was sure to return.

So on October 1, 2008, Jessie had surgery to remove part of her pelvic bone. For several weeks she will wear a brace to keep her leg stable. She is now progressing in physical therapy where even walking is a difficult task. But Jessie’s spirits remain high, and her competitive nature is kicking in again. She is determined to beat this disease.

Through all of these battles, Jessie’s teammates have rallied with her. They are reminded every week when the referee calls Jessie’s name on the match report of Jessie’s strength and her continuing battle. They play every game in her honor and proudly wear her initials on their uniform sleeves as a reminder to them and to all of us of the real struggles in life.

In the ultimate show of support and solidarity, the entire team donned red beanies for their team picture so that Jessie would feel more comfortable in hers. While Jessie will not return to the soccer field this season, she will always be an important part of the GU14 White team – and an even bigger part of LAFC.

13 / November / 2008  In the News  Comments (6)

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