Beach soccer tourney draws a crowd

OCEANSIDE — More than 30,000 fans watched as 300 beach soccer teams faced off in a weekend competition of 1,200 games at Oceanside Harbor beach May 13 through May 15. Adults, kids and professionals played for bragging rights in the COOP Beach Soccer Championships and a professional purse that paid $5,000 for the winning team. Professional players flew in from Virginia, Florida, Portugal and Japan to play against the local favorite the San Diego Sockers. A total of eight professional teams faced off.
“They select four to five tournaments to compete in throughout the year and we’re one of them,” Marc Koehler, director of the COOP Beach Soccer Championships, said.
Local youth teams who regularly play on grass fields competed in the beach soccer championship as a fun way to kick off their season, Koehler added. “In one word ‘fun’ that’s our goal,” Koehler said.
In addition to playoff games there were youth soccer clinics, samba dancing, a games fun zone, venders, and beach stadium side eateries.
Kids enjoyed the fun of competition and also had a front row seat to see professional players.
The professional playoffs brought beach stadium crowds to their feet.
Professional teams played three 12-minute periods with five players on the field. Teams were allowed up to 10 players on their rooster, but many feel short of 10.
The Florida Beach Soccer team won Portugal with a score of 4-2 in the consolation match with a team of 6 players.
“We gave it all we had and beat them up,” Francis Farberoff, captain of the Florida Beach Soccer team, said. “We left on a positive note.”
The San Diego Sockers claimed the championship title this year in a 4-3 win against the U.S. Nationals team.
“The San Diego Sockers are an experienced team on the sand,” Gino Rossi, founder and managing director of COOP Beach Soccer Championships, said.
In the final game the Sockers scored the first goal and held onto the lead in a challenging game against the Nationals. Sockers goalie Chris Toth had numerous saves during the game that secured the win and earned him this year’s Golden Glove award for top goalkeeper. Also on the San Diego team was the event’s MVP, Ze Roberto.
 The Long Beach Soccer Championships is scheduled for June 4 to June 5. The winner of it, along with the San Diego Sockers, will be considered legitimate contenders to win beach soccer’s U.S. Open in Virginia Beach, Virginia June 10 to June 12.

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