Category Archives: sports

Second straight playoffs for Lighthouse soccer

saints-soccer-tall-and-proudFor the second straight year, Lighthouse Christian Academy entered soccer playoffs — a decided break from a long past of never making post-season play.

But the Saints mechanics ran rough on Feb. 15 against delToledo High School, which dismissed LCA with a resounding 0-6 defeat.

For about a week, Lighthouse players were thinking their third-place standing in the league ruled them out of playoffs when they rather suddenly received the news they would get at least one more game to see far they advanced.

lighthouse-christian-academy-soccer-santa-monicaThe Saints season peaked in a shock defeat of last year’s league champs 2-1. In that game, players were passing, fighting and concentrating. The victory against Newbury Park culminated a winning streak of three and gave the Saints the intoxicating sensation of invincibility that lasted only a couple days.

The next game Jan. 27 against Einstein Academy brought LCA back to reality with a humbling 0-6 thrashing. The prior passing went up in smoke with predictable results.

The Saints finished league play 5-3. Against the better teams, LCA — which has 1-and-a-half club players — can compete when they play like a team linking up with passes. Individual juking runs don’t work. But would players listen to coach and stick with selflessness?

If only players in our Santa Monica Christian school would apply the Bible to the soccer field: It is better to give than to receive.

In some games, passing became so scarce that when finally a through-ball was sent, the intended player wasn’t expecting it and invariably reacted slowly.

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How hyperactivity turned to a Lighthouse Christian Academy soccer win

santa-monica-soccer-private-high-schoolOften, Brandon Montes overflows fidgety energy in the classroom. He’s drumming on the desk, snapping fingers, sneering at classmates across the room, clowning around. Believe it or not, through it all he’s paying attention too.

On Jan. 19, 2017, of an extraordinary week of soccer, Brandon was paying attention and put his gush of energy to good use. At left defense he was alert to a ball opponents were clearing on a corner kick. It was headered wide, out of the danger zone. It was coasting safely towards the line.

But solid defensive tactic fell apart because of Brandon’s energy boost and attentiveness. The sophomore ran up and smashed a low shot through a muddle of players that apparently blocked the goalkeeper’s view of action. By the time he jumped, it was too late. The ball went into the net.

“Whenever I see a ball that close to the goal, my main idea is to shoot it,” Brandon said. “I saw the ball was going over. I ran up on it. I heard Junior say ‘chip it in the middle,’ but I wasn’t taking into account what he said because my first instinct was to shoot it.”

Brandon’s effort was richly rewarding. His first goal of the season (and that from a defensive position!) was the winner. The Lighthouse Christian Academy beat the Newbury Park Gators 2-1. Brandon’s goal capped off an equalizer from freshman Levi Photenhauer in the second half to give the Saints the unexpected victory.

“I tried to do what I was learning in practice: keep my head over the ball, to kick a ball with power low and on the ground instead of having it blast into outer space,” Brandon said.

Brandon has played some untiring and intelligent soccer this season. He fights for ever ball and doesn’t concede anything. He runs hard and fast.

“Whenever I see a ball coming towards me, I have to get it,” Brandon said. “If a ball gets passed me, I get extremely angry. I attack it by any means necessary.”

It was Brandon’s long switch from defensive position that set up Levi’s goal.

On Tuesday in a game against Westmark that our private high school also won, it was Brandon at center mid that sunk a billiards shot into the path of Marcus Scribner to notch up one assist.

“I look for whoever is open and try to make the pass,” he said. LCA won 7-2 on Tuesday.

On Wednesday in school, students fell into braggadocio, boasting about their heroics and jeering teammates who remained so far goalless. Brandon searched for the words to defend his play, which had sparkled more than that of some of the goal-scorers. He decided to not answer their boasts. He had played well. His actions spoke for him. He would answer them in Thursday’s match. Finish reading the article.

Dwight Howard flies high with Jesus in NBA

dwight howard jump

When Dwight Howard was 15 years old, he had national coaches admiring his basketball skills, friends galore following him around and lots of girls throwing him kisses.

Then he broke his leg, and the coaches, the friends, and the girls all disappeared as if by the rapture.

“God said, ‘Dwight I had to humble you,’” he said in a YouTube video. “After that I told God, ‘I will never ever be cocky again. I will always be humble because I never want this to happen to me again.’”

dwight howard at baptism

Dwight has proven the naysayers wrong who figured he would never make the NBA after that accident. An eight-time NBA All-Star and three-time Defensive Player of the Year, Dwight led the Orlando Magic to three division titles and one conference title. At 30 years old, he just finished his 12th season as center for the Houston Rockets.

Through it all, he has consistently talked Jesus. In a recent video, he wore a T-shirt emblazoned with the words: “Y’all need Jesus.” When he was drafted straight out of high school (the #1 pick!), he declared he would use his fame in basketball to “raise the name of God within the league and throughout the world.”

As a kid, his parents always took him to church in Atlanta, Georgia. When he was 12, he had his first real encounter with God. He was at home asking God what his purpose was in life. Then he heard an audible voice saying, “Dwight.”

There was nobody else at home at the moment, so Dwight was more than a little frightened. He heard his name again: “Dwight.”

Half afraid and half marveling, he went into the bathroom. There, God told him his purpose: to glorify Him in the NBA.

Yet he doubted the supernatural encounter. Find out what he did. Read the rest of the story.

Bombings made him a good tennis player

novak-djokovic

By Michael Ashcraft and Mark Ellis

To win the Australian open, a tennis player needs composure – something Novak Djokovic, 28, developed when his city was bombed by NATO for 78 consecutive nights in 1999.

A Christian of deep faith, Djokovic – also known as Super Novak – made use of his poise under pressure to take the Jan. 31 open by storm. He slammed contender Andy Murray 6-1, 7-5, 7-6 in a display of dominance proving why he’s tennis’ new #1 ranked player.

Djokovic grew up playing tennis in Belgrade when NATO imposed an embargo and bombed the city during the Kosovo War in 1999, causing great shortages of food.

us open 2015“We started the war living in fear, but somewhere during the course of the bombings, something changed in me, in my family, in my people,” Djokovic wrote in his memoir, Serve to Win. “We decided to stop being afraid. After so much death, after so much destruction, we simply stopped hiding. We decided to make fun of how ridiculous our situation was. One friend died his hair like a bulls-eye, a target.”

Young Djokovic himself stumbled and fell while scrambling to a bomb shelter one night. He looked up and saw a fearsome F-117 bomber release its cargo upon a hospital, he said.

If you can play tennis while dodging bullets and standing in long lines for bread and milk, then nothing can unnerve you. After facing the hardships of war, the psychological games played by opponents on a tennis court are relatively tame to Djokovic. His inner resolve has resulted in many come from behind victories.

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His opponents seem befuddled next to his highly-trained concentration level that screens out distractions of any form.

When Djokovic did the unimaginable and recovered from a breakdown in the fifth set to beat Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open of 2013, the Australian news.com.au proclaimed it an act akin to turning water into wine or opening up the Red Sea.

“No one does that,” the reporter wrote. “Djokovic wins a lot of matches he should lose.”

Djokovic, jubilant over a triumph that made the world stand up and notice, tore off his shirt to celebrate. The wooden cross around his neck bore visible testament to his faith.

Other players choke. Djokovic brings out his best tennis when the heat is on. At the 2011 U.S. Open he played 16-time major winner Roger Federer and returned a mind-boggling ball on match point  that seemed impossible to retrieve – now memorialized as “the shot” – that shocked Federer and the entire tennis world. Federer was reportedly upset about it for months.

Once upon a time, Djokovic was the upstart among tennis champions. He was the “third man” behind Federer and Nadal. Now, he stands alone. He has won 11 Grand Slam singles titles – four of the last five. In 2015, he won 82 of 88 matches – a 93% win percentage.

Read the rest of the article: click here.

My son Hosea wins with Mar Vista Park soccer final

mar vista park soccer

Flynn Roe expertly turns in a cross to open scoring for Chelsea

Andres Barahona hoped to engineer his second upset in Mar Vista Park soccer finals Saturday with his nervy energy and treacherous left foot, but ultimately his team, Aston Villa, fell to the superior firepower of Chelsea.

Andres,15, blazed twice down the left with feints and burst of speed to pass four and five defenders to slot home. But he was playing a game of keep-up in the “sweepers division,” age 13 to 15, against an onslaught of goals. Chelsea took the championship 6-3.

“We played pretty hard,” Andres said. “The penalties weren’t penalties. I wanted to win, but we couldn’t win.”

Last week, 3rd-placed Aston Villa upset 2nd-place Norwich to bid for a surprise championship Saturday. But Chelsea, a team full of forwards, was too lethal in front of the net.

The Blues’ deadshot aim was unusual for parks leagues, where all kinds of clumsiness and lack of definition prevail among the lot of mostly beginners.

Some 650 kids aged 5-15 played in Mar Vista’s 9 divisions in spring league, said Soccer Director Kiswani Dumas, better known as simply “Kiwi.” With the largest park soccer program on the Westside, Mar Vista has produced stars for European soccer, he said. One kid has a contract for a Turkish team, he added.

“Our soccer program is growing every season,” Kiwi said. “We hope to have 1,000 kids next season.”

Sign ups, boys and girls, start on July 1 for fall soccer, which initiates Sept. 12. For $130, kids get a uniform, a trophy, training and a lot of competitive fun.

Mar Vista Park’s turf field, installed eight years ago, has been the field of dreams, where kids can learn soccer and soar. They learn teamwork, discipline and hard work. They can experience the exhilaration of victory and the crush of defeat.

In Saturday’s final, Chelsea, the highest scoring team among the older kids’ division, started what they do best early when Flynn Roe, 13, turned a free kick in past the goalie after only a few minutes after the starting whistle. It was a smart goal, uncharacteristically classy for parks soccer.

But Aston Villa responded quickly. Andres, of Honduran descent and with the Latino flair for el futbol, tore down the left flank, ghosting past four defenders, to fire home and tie up a game that promised to be highly competitive and highly entertaining.

youth soccer programs Los Angeles

Hosea Ashcraft fires from amid three defenders. From the outside of his foot to the inside of the net.

Then for Chelsea, Hosea Ashcraft, 13, fought off three defenders to shoot clinically past a hapless Aston Villa goalie.

Mar Vista park soccer

Aston Villa’s goalie is not going to block the shot.

Before the first half was over, referees cited a defender’s handball, and Daniel Garcia, 15, the league’s highest goal-scorer, blasted a blistering penalty kick for Chelsea, making it 3-1.

youth soccer Westside Los Angeles

Daniel Garcia rockets a penalty kick right past the goalie.

In the second half, it was Aston Villa who opened scoring. Again the always-dangerous Andres blazed down the left flank and slotted home.

Chelsea responded almost immediately. Midfielder Daniel, who was Andres’ equal in domination, whipped in a cross from the right that Samuel Mikhail, 15, turned smartly in. It was impossible for the keeper to bat away.

Down 4-2, Aston Villa refused to let this game slip out of hand. From the feet of Andres came a through-ball that Donovan Brizuela sprinted on to fire from the left for another score, keeping the game within reach at 4-3.

If only Chelsea could cancel out the constant threat of Andres, they could win. Seeing the need, Flynn offered himself to coach to track and defend against Andres. He promised coach that he wouldn’t be beat by the fleet-footed youth.

“Ok, go ahead,” Coach Mario Ortiz told him. Andres didn’t make any more key plays.

All season, Chelsea had been a scoring machine, and Saturday’s game proved no different. A through-ball left Samuel in a one-on-one face-off with the goalie. He fired low, a shot that shanked the goalie’s shins and glided into goal.

Another defensive handball in the area gave Chelsea its second penalty kick, which Daniel didn’t miss with a rocket fired from the spot. The game ended 6-3.

With about 15 goals this season, Daniel was named the most valuable player.

“He covers all the midfield,” Coach Ortiz said. “He can shoot. He can pass.”

After taking possession of the field, the boys — and girls — in blue retreated to the park picnic tables for their banquet. Coach Ortiz handed out medals and praised each player as they munched sub sandwiches, chips and cupcakes.

After clashing against the tiny titans of soccer, the kids fell to playing Clash of Clans on their phones, trading strategies.

As the sun fell, another soccer season receded into glorious memories.

*Reprinted from http://patch.com/california/santamonica/chelsea-confirms-its-dominance-mar-vista-soccer