Chelsea Blue Team Thriving At Le Jardin Soccer Academy

Wednesday - February 24, 2010
By Jack Danilewicz
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As the coach and face of Le Jardin Soccer Academy, Paco Saavedra gives as much time to developing his players’ love of the game as he does to other all-important areas.

“It has to be fun,” said Saavedra. “We teach them technically, physically and mentally, but it’s a game.You have to be skilled to play the game. At the same time, you have to be dedicated to the game and love the game.”

Saavedra and LJSA’s commitment to developing kids and soccer players has met with rousing success lately, especially the program’s Chelsea Blue Under-10 boys team, which won the President’s Cup for its age group with an undefeated 5-0 record at Waipio Soccer Complex Feb.13-15.With that achievement, Chelsea Blue is effectively Hawaii Youth Soccer Association state champion for 2010 - the second time in three years they have earned that distinction.It is one of five teams in the United States affiliated with the English Premier League.

Chelsea Blue also defeated all nine of its Oahu League opponents heading into last weekend’s season finale, giving it a 14-game win streak with the President’s Cup Tournament included.

While LJSA is open to kids from all over Oahu, it’s still affiliated with Le Jardin Academy and has a heavy Windward presence.As such, LJSA’s teams also are able to take advantage of the Kailua private school’s state-of-theart athletic facilities, including a classroom for video instruction as needed, and use of the swimming pool and on-campus soccer field.

“It all helps us to progress as an academy and to develop our kids,” he explained.

Saavedra said team cohesiveness is a contributing factor to Chelsea Blue’s success at the President’s Cup.“We’re close together,” he said. “We have a great chemistry on this team, and we also have talent.”

Chelsea Blue defeated Honolulu City (6-0), Maui United Soccer Club (3-1) and WSC Volcanos (4-0) to capture their pool at the President’s Day Cup.That sent them into the semifinal on President’s Day, where they defeated Azzurri 2-1 before shutting out Rush 4-0 in the championship game late that afternoon.

The Chelsea Blue team included Noah Abrams,Kevin Abe, Diego Saavedra, Koby Tengan, Byron Scofield, Justin Shuman, Riley Kawananakoa, Daunte Mangiarelli, Marcus Foehr, Ethan Young, Mitchell Quinn, Jacob Tobias, Esau Cusick and brothers Jake and Seth Borden. (Teammate Max Monnier competes with the U-10 team in the regular season, but was with LJSA’s under-9 team for the President’s Day Cup.)

Three goalkeepers - Marcus Foehr,Diego Saavedra and Mitchell Quinn - rotated in net for Chelsea Blue in the tournament.All told, they yielded only two goals in five games, including three shutouts.

“They are all three of the same caliber, so we played them all,” Saavedra said.“We have no problems in goal.We let them all play.”

Quinn also was the leading scorer in the tournament for Chelsea Blue, which tallied 19 goals in its five wins.“He was one of the keys on the team. He’s super fast - one of the fastest kids in the state.”

Passing is another key for Chelsea Blue, according to Saavedra, who likes to incorporate his goalkeeper into his team’s transition from defense to offense.

“We teach the kids to trust the goalkeeper, and we use the whole width of the field. They’ve developed their passing really well.”

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