The North Torrance American Youth Soccer Organization girls under 19 team had to go through three thrilling matches that went into penalty kicks but it managed to take all of those and win the 50th Anniversary AYSO National Games crown in its finale against Okeeheelee from Florida last Sunday at Columbia Park in Torrance.
After a scoreless duo, North was able to outkick Okeeheelee, 3-1, and the girls came on to the field to celebrate their first title of the year after some second, third and fourth place finishes in earlier local tournaments.
"We didn't know how our luck would go," North head coach Tony Warfield said. "We've trained hard for this over the past several months."
North was able to get penalty kick goals from Kristen Coyne, Aunika Ortiz and Mebra Kisaka and 16-year-old goalkeeper Arianna Amijo was able to make three saves in four tries.
"Armijo made a fantastic first save and two others," Warfield said.
Her outstanding performance earned her the team's and tournament's Most Valuable Player.
"It feels good," Armijo said about leading her team to the championship. "The defense helped me a lot."
Armijo will be a junior at North Torrance High in the fall. She will begin her second season with the Saxons' girls' soccer team in late November.
North also had penalty kick wins in the quarterfinals against Burbank and the semifinals against Culver City, which was the 2012 National Games co-champion with Okeeheelee.
Both came after 1-1 ties and North won on penalty kicks 3-2 in each of those games.
Culver City ended up in third place by topping Perris.
In the boys under 14 division at Field of Dreams in San Pedro, San Pedro made it to the finals and fell to Cutler from Central California, 3-2, after taking a 2-0 halftime lead.
Jace Lopez and Jorge Alvarenga each scored for San Pedro.
Ivan Hernandez sparked Cutler by scoring one goal each in the third and fourth quarters, then Hugo Soto-Guerrero made the winning penalty kick.
There were two under-10 champions in South Torrance's boys in the tournament played at the new Toyota Soccer Center at the east end of the Torrance Civic Center area and Hawthorne's boys in Riverside.
The tournament in Torrance and Riverside was in commemoration of the founding of the AYSO in Torrance in 1964.
The AYSO started with nine teams and 135 players and today, it has grown to approximately 50,000 teams and 700,000 players throughout the United States and Trinidad and Tobago.
The 2014 classic included nearly 500 teams and about 7,000 players from 19 states, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States Virgin Islands.
Numerous players out of the AYSO have gone on to play in the Major League Soccer and other professional soccer leagues throughout the world. Several even have played on the U.S. national teams, including this year's squad that made it to the second round of the World Cup before being eliminated by Belgium, 2-1 in extra time, on July 1 in Salvador, Brazil.