The fourth-grade boys at The Pegasus School did not all get to play together last year at the Daily Pilot Cup.
The grades were mixed together in the third- and fourth-grade age group. Some Pegasus third-graders played on the gold division team, and some on the silver team. Both of the squads lost in the semifinals.
"It was different last year, because we didn't get to play with our friends," forward Jason Plumb said. "It wasn't as fun."
This year, Pegasus is doing things differently. The third- and fourth-grade gold division team is made up of only fourth graders.
They appear to have a good shot of winning the whole thing.
Plumb scored twice as Pegasus defeated Pomona, 4-0, on Saturday afternoon at Jack Hammett Sports Complex. With the victory, Pegasus wins Pool D and advances to the Gold Division semifinals Sunday at 10:30 a.m., against Lincoln. The championship match is scheduled for 3 p.m.
Pegasus, which is 3-0 in the tournament, needed to top Pomona to win the pool and advance. Pomona also was 2-0 in the tournament headed into Saturday's match. But Pegasus jumped ahead early. Blake Cogan and Dan Kotkosky added goals for the winners, who scored all four of their goals in the first half.
The skill was obvious for Pegasus, coached by Mike Plumb and Chris St. Hilaire. Jason Plumb's fraternal twin, A.J., had an assist, and Noah Lindo set up opportunities for his teammates all game. Jared Aimone and Locke Darmer helped control the middle, and Spencer Green, Jarrett Haft and Max Milo helped lock down the defense, as did goalkeeper Josh Niedermayer (four saves).
Gabriel St. Hilaire and Colton Quick also contributed for Pegasus, which has outscored its opponents by a combined 11-1 so far.
"We have some good players on this team," Mike Plumb said. "We have some club players, but we also have a bunch of non-club players, and they're doing just as much as everybody else. A lot of those great passes that you saw, in terms of people working the ball around, that's coming from non-club players who are working with their teammates. The great thing is, they're all buddies. It's a small school. There's probably 25 or 30 boys in the whole grade, so they're all really tight. I love how they look for each other ... they really spread the ball around nicely."
Jason Plumb put Pegasus ahead in the second minute of the game and volleyed in another shot in the sixth minute after a cross by Kotkosky glanced off the crossbar. Cogan added his goal in the 12th minute, a perfect shot from near the upper-right corner of the box. And Kotkosky added the last goal in the final minute of the first half, ending a quick sequence of passes that started with Quick and A.J. Plumb.
"We had to play to our potential and we did," said Lindo, who plays club for Newport Beach-based Slammers FC. "We had a great outcome."
In the school's previous game, Niedermayer got to play in the field in the second half. This time, he stayed in goal, able to stop the long shots from Pomona's top two goal-scorers, Christopher Sollano and Esteban Escobel. Mike Plumb knew they were coming, as he scouted Pomona's win against Kaiser on Friday.
"They take long shots and I'm good at long shots," said Niedermayer, the son of former NHL star and current Anaheim Ducks assistant coach Scott Niedermayer.
Pomona Coach Jose Rosas credited his goalie, Cesar Pedroza, who made a couple of diving stops and recorded six overall. Jesse Aguilar, Alexander De Leon, Kevin Tornez, Eddie Garcia, Martin Bravo, Daniel Delgado, Adelfo Bahena, Ramiro Coyotzi, Jorge Ceja, Jonathan Melgar and Jason Hernandez also contributed for Pomona.
"Our defenders were doing what they could to stop them," Rosas said. "[Pegasus] had really good runners, really good players that we just couldn't keep from scoring. It could have been maybe two or three more goals [against us] without [Pedroza]."