May 1, 2002 – Eighteen young soccer players recently returned from the Disney
Spring Holiday Soccer Festival in Orlando, Fla. These 18 players did the Peacemakers Youth Soccer Club and the Virgin Islands proud! Coaches Robert "Trip" Dunville and Adalio Araujo were impressed and satisfied with the team's performance over the Easter weekend.
The Virgin Islands contingent for this Under 13 competition consisted of mostly Under 12 players who have been coached by Dunville for at least two years, four Under 14 players who have been coached by Araujo for the past two years, and Under 12 guest players – Jabari Velinor, former Peacemakers player, now resident in Houston, Texas, and St. Croix players Ali Van Gurp and Kai Schuster. The V.I. players were easily one foot shorter and 20 pounds lighter than players on the rival teams, but they made up for this limitation in skill and determination, said a release.
The tournament guaranteed three games:
Friday, March 29, at 8 a.m. – Plantation, Fla. vs. Peacemakers – 4-1 (loss), with a goal from team captain Velinor in the first half. The team played well but the near-perfect grass field was wet and slippery. Dunville was disappointed by the loss but felt that the team played well despite the size differential and the field conditions. Araujo noted that the players became a little disappointed when the Plantation team scored their first two goals but that the defensive players – Jamie Brown, Dimitri Maduro and John P. deJongh Jr. – never gave up.
Several other players made notable efforts including Van Gurp, Velinor, Madison van Heurck, Richie Bourne-Vanneck and Malvon Percival II. There was tremendous pressure on goalie Schuster but he did saved many more goals than the four that scored.
Dunville said that after the game, the Plantation coach confided that he was very impressed and hoped to come to the Virgin Islands for games in the future.
The second game went much better with the Peacemakers benefiting from mandatory wind-down time in the hotel and additional preparation from watching videotapes of live soccer games. The Peacemakers played the New Jersey SeaHawks at 3 p.m. and kept the score at 2-0 into the last ten minutes of the second half of the game. Van Gurp scored the first goal with an assist from van Heurck. Bourne-Vanneck scored the second goal with an assist from Kamron Rondon.
Peacemakers won 2-1 and received congratulations from the players, coaches and parents of the rival team.
The third game was at 9:45 a.m. Saturday against the CFU Phoenix. This team had made some decisive wins during the tournament, with scores of 10-0 and 6-1 in their early games. The CFU Phoenix also had a reputation of being very athletic, marking well and making it hard for the other team to capture the ball. This reputation stood firm and this was undoubtedly the most difficult game of the tournament for the Peacemakers. Despite a size and weight disadvantage, the Peacemakers were able to keep the score to 0-0 until late in the first half when the Phoenix scored. The second goal came early in the second half and then a defensive play error resulted in the third goal. The game ended with a 4-0 victory for the CFU Phoenix but a loss that the Peacemakers played smart and tough until the very end of the game.
The semi-finals were on Sunday morning and the Peacemakers donned their traveling uniform T-shirts and attended the games of the teams that beat them. The Peacemakers looked at the games carefully to see what they could learn.
All the team members were pleased that they had each done their very best during the preparation for the tournament and during the games and felt proud of their efforts. They were also proud to see the U.S. Virgin Islands flag in the stands as they played. Thanks to Clorise Smith of the V.I. Tourism Department, the Peacemakers gave USVI tokens such as key chains, pens and inflatable balls to the players and coaches of the rival teams.
The Peacemakers came third in its pool of four teams in the tournament and came fourth out of eight in the Under 13 category. This is an extremely good showing for a mixed team, playing in its first major stateside tournament since 1998 when most of these same players traveled to Cocoa Beach, Fla., for a tournament.
Coaches Dunville and Araujo are elated that the team could compete with the best. "The teams we played come from clubs that have at least 60 players to choose from and they traveled with their best. We traveled with our best but from a much smaller pool," noted Dunville. Araujo aid that "the continued improvement in the level of play and exposure for our players will come from more games, tournaments and practice."
Plans are already under way for games in St. Croix, Tortola and/or Antigua before the season wraps up in the middle of June.
Peacemakers Youth Soccer Club benefited from contributions of the general public for its fundraisers – Bake Sale in early March, the Car Wash at Wendy's on March 23 and the sale of T-shirts prior to the tournament. There were also many direct donations from friends, committed supporters and family members. The Peacemakers Youth Soccer Club is also 2001-2002 recipient of a Law Enforcement Planning Commission drug and delinquency prevention grant, which is used to fund its "Youth Soccer Enhancement Program."
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