Last year, when Mariners Christian won a Daily Pilot Cup championship, the school's athletic director, Mac Thompson, forgot to pick up a trophy at the engraving company's shop.
This year, he said he'll make sure to retrieve the hardware. He might need to bring a box or have some help. Mariners Christian, the private school in Costa Mesa, captured three of the four titles in the Gold Division in the 15th annual youth soccer tournament.
This year's Daily Pilot Cup was the biggest one yet, and Mariners Christian made sure to step up, winning the boys' third- and fourth-grade, girls' fifth- and sixth-grade and girls' third- and fourth-grade championships.
Thompson said a combination of factors had to be credited for the school's success in the Daily Pilot Cup, and it started with its talented players. Several of the young athletes play in club soccer.
"We also spend time preparing for the Pilot Cup by doing practices after school for two weeks prior to the tournament," Thompson said. "We also do it as a unit in our P.E. classes. It's like a double dose of practice and training."
Thompson said a strong reason for Mariners Christian's ability to win was the pure enjoyment the players and their families received from the tournament experience.
"So many of these kids are playing soccer out of school, so the Pilot Cup experience is so different than club," Thompson said. "Sometimes in club, they are over-coached. At Pilot Cup, they are getting a mix of players. The emphasis is fun, playing with your friends and playing for your school."
Thompson also credited Mariners Christian's volunteer coaches, who displayed passion for soccer throughout the tournament.
The coaches will be sure to encourage Thompson to get the trophies and place them in the school's trophy case.
"The kids love the Pilot Cup," Thompson said. "They look forward to it every year."
Many of the elementary schools in the area would echo the same statement. The tournament starts the day after Memorial Day. For six days, the excitement builds from pool play to bracket competition to Championship Sunday.
This year, Mariners Christian stood out with its winning ways in the Gold Division. But there were many other champions too.
Mariners Elementary School, a school in Newport Beach, earned a big 5-3 win over Newport Coast to take home the boys' fifth- and sixth-grade championship in the Gold Division. Mariners overcame a 2-0 deficit and rallied for the win.
15th annual Daily Pilot Cup
Gold: Mariners 5, Newport Coast 3
Silver: Paularino 6, Whittier 0
Bronze: Adams 6, Eastbluff 1