Saturday, May 28, 2011

Soccer team together for over a decade heading off to college

After 13 years of playing together, the Manhattan/Hermosa AYSO team that calls themselves the Sissies, played their last game on Sunday.(Top row, left to right) Coach Derek Levy, Avery Jett, Chris, Cody Smith, Travis Taylor, Adrian Pinter, coach Tony Fitzgerald, Cody Espresso, Bryan Linnel and Thomas Brunner; (middle row) Jan Van Soest, Patrick Fitzgerald, Luke Levy, Andy Hershey, Alex McCarthy, Joe Valenzuela; (bottom row) David Slay, Chuck Pitts, Shane Sisson and Oliver Thomas

Derrick Levy and Tony Fitzgerald began coaching their sons’ AYSO team in 1998 when their sons Luke and Patrick were five-years old. Sunday afternoon, at the Manhattan Village soccer field, the two coaches, their two sons and the 16 other members of their team, all of whom played for or against one another over the past 13 years, played their last game together.

The unbeaten Manhattan team faced an unbeaten Hawthorne team for the Under 19 league championship. It was a hard fought, emotional game. Manhattan scored first, but Hawthorne tied the game shortly before halftime. In the second, half yellow cards and then red cards began flying. Following a pushing match, the referee and coaches from both sides rushed to separate the teams before the incident could escalate. Then, with time running out, Hawthorne scored the winning goal.

The Manhattan coaches were disappointed, but philosophical about the loss. “We told them what we’ve been telling them every practice for the past decade. Soccer is a beginning, not an end,” said Fitzgerald, who played on professional soccer teams in England and Belgium in his youth. His parents insisted he give up the sport to go to college, where the players he coached are headed next year. ER

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