Cottonwood Elementary School’s girls won the Vallecitos Soccer Tournament, which was played Dec. 7 at Vallecitos Elementary School in Rainbow, while Hamilton Elementary School’s boys placed second.
The Cougars won the girls championship with a 1-0 victory over Vallecitos in the final. Vallecitos became the boys champion with a 5-1 triumph over Hamilton in the championship match.
Seven small elementary schools in northern San Diego County and southern Riverside County participate in tournaments throughout the year with each school hosting a different sport. Warner Elementary School in Warner Springs did not have enough eligible and interested players for soccer, so initially six boys’ teams and six girls’ teams were slated to play in the Vallecitos Soccer Tournament. The high winds which caused the Lilac Fire southwest of Rainbow that day also caused the Borrego Elementary and Julian Elementary teams to cancel their trips to Rainbow.
“We had to make some last-minute changes,” Vallecitos boys coach and tournament organizer Ray Hanbeck said.
The tournament matches were played despite the fire, although the high winds moved numerous items throughout the day including the goals and the third-place boys game between Pauma and Cottonwood had to be called because the goals were repeatedly blown away from where they were positioned.
“It was really exhausting, to say the least, trying to get everything done in those conditions, but the kids pulled through,” Hanbeck said. “I think that everything went as smoothly as it could possibly go. We were just lucky that the winds were blowing south and we didn’t get any smoke.”
Cottonwood, Hamilton, Pauma, and Vallecitos each played two initial games using a 20-minute running clock with no halftime break or changing of sides. The semifinals also utilized a 20-minute running clock. The championship matches competed with 15-minute halves with a five-minute halftime break.
Hamilton defeated Cottonwood in the boys semifinal to advance to the championship game. Cottonwood’s girls prevailed over Hamilton in their semifinal to earn a rematch against Vallecitos, whose initial game was a 3-1 victory over the Cougars.
The schools’ next tournament will feature flag football, Jan. 18, contingent upon favorable weather at Hamilton.