It was a dazzling tournament this weekend for the Turlock-based Shake 'n Bake U8 girls’ squad who managed to come out as the winners in the annual Santa Cruz Beach Soccer Championship.
The girls who primarily consist of Turlock native players from the Turlock Youth Soccer Association managed to come together in their first tournament and trounced all opponents with ease and into their way to a perfect 5-0 finish before the weekend ended as they averaged over nine goals per game.
Head coach Anthony Mendoza had not coached a U8 squad for over a decade, but was so impressed by this young team’s ability that he quickly took over as the head coach when the opportunity presented itself.
“I saw the talent level and they were very successful together early on,” said Mendoza. “I am coaching them like my competitive teams and they picked up very quick for their age group. The team future looks bright. They are very athletic girls and a great start from them.”
There was a minor, yet vast difference in terms of the type of play as opposed to outdoor soccer because this tournament was played on the sand—yes, on the sand.
The tournament was held between the Boardwalk and the ocean and played in a field that is 25 by 35 yards and the game is played with six on six, rather than the normal 11-on-11 due to the younger age group.
There are also rules for the wardrobe that indicates no usage of cleats or shin guards, but rather playing bare footed, with special sand socks, regular socks or even tape on the feet.
This proved to be difficult and challenging for all teams except the Turlock-based squad who manipulated their opponents by scoring nine or more goals in their first four games leading to the title contest.
Facing a majority of Northern California teams and no sand around Turlock, the Shake ‘n Bake U8 squad won their first contest 9-0, then went 11-2 in their next two games before finishing off with a 10-2 win before the championship game.
“Yeah, pretty much the girls were on top in every game,” said Mendoza. “I knew we had the chance to be very competitive. It’s a great group of girls that mixed well and can pass well, no one talented player, we have a deep roster where everybody contributes.”
In the finale against the Richmond Wildcats, the U8 Turlock team was held offensively but the defense stayed stingy, allowing just two goals.
Now after an impressive showing the U8 Shake ‘n Bake team will look to compete in travel ball by next spring as they will be the U9 team.
“Just spoke with local Turlock Youth Soccer Association, looking to go competitive next spring… it turns into travel ball for the hopefully Turlock Tornados U9. As far as we noticed, we will continue our training and during fall will move up in age group,” Mendoza added.