The scoreboard at the Santa Maria Valley YMCA outdoor soccer arena was operating Saturday, but the scores for both teams throughout the games in the morning remained at 0-0.

That's because no scores are kept in Santa Maria Valley YMCA Youth Soccer League games. The scoreboard only kept time.

One segment of the league is for 3-to-5-year-olds. The other is for 6-to-9-year-olds.

"This is a run-and-fun league," one coach said. "The teams get to pick their own team names."

Just because no scores were kept didn't mean the players didn't get a kick out of scoring goals.

Andrea Almaguer, who plays for the Blue Thunder in the 3-to-5-year-old division, skipped away happily after she scored a goal.

A Green Dinosaurs player, Calvin, age 4, announced that he had scored "two," goals in his team's game against the Firecrackers. Calvin's younger brother, Clayton, 3, also plays in the league.

Another Green Dinosaurs player, Shay Edwards, seemed pretty happy when he scored three quick goals. After one goal, Shay went over to his father, Ryan, and the two exchanged a quick, emphatic high five.

Through it all, Firecrackers coach Betsy Swain kept exhorting her players.

"Firecrackers, you're doing great," she told her team at halftime.

Afterward, she said this is her first year of coaching at any level.

"Oh, I love it," she said of coaching the youngsters. "It's so much fun."

The YMCA's Youth League games run each Saturday through Aug. 26 at the YMCA's outdoor soccer arena.

Cathy Mendez, the YMCA's Sports, Special Events and Volunteer Director, has said the arena, which is the fraction of the size of a regular soccer pitch, is enclosed by white boards and has synthetic turf, is the only one of its kind in the city.

"I would just like to say that this is an outstanding facility," said Carol Swain, Betsy Swain's mother. "I don't think there's another one like it in the city. It gives the children such an opportunity to learn."

As players and spectators were leaving the pitch one of the Firecrackers, Stella Grace Sarvis, 4, spoke up.

"I like playing soccer," she said. "My favorite position is goalie."

Soraya Campbell, a 6-year-old who plays for Manchester in the 6-to-9 league, also is fond of playing goalkeeper. "Being goalie is the most fun position," she said.

Games in the 3-to-5 division consist of four five-minute quarters, with a two-minute break between quarters and a five-minute break at halftime. Games in the 6-to-9 division consist of four six-minute quarters with a two-minute break between quarters and a five-minute break at halftime.

Games in the 3-to-5 division are five-on-five and take place in only a fraction of the arena. Games in the 6-to-9 division are six-on-six and are played in the entire arena.

Goalies in a game between the Teal Seals — yes, the Seals wore teal jerseys — and Barcelona were particularly active.

Barcelona goalkeeper Dino Curti made a diving save. Teal Seals goalie Xavier Evans made numerous saves; including one when he was shoeless on one foot.

Shoe in hand, Xavier ran over and made a save. Finally, he put the shoe back on his foot during a break in the action.

During the last game of the morning, Manchester did a lot of unofficial scoring and Cesar Polacios, 7, was one of its players who did some scoring.

This is his first year of playing soccer. He said he likes soccer, well, because, "You can make a goal."

One spectator, Marvin Gonzales, sat through the morning of soccer.

"I have a little one, Pressley, who plays for Barcelona (Manchester's opponent in the last game of the day)," he said.

However, Pressley and his teammates weren't the only players Marvin Gonzales cheered.

He shouted and pumped his fist in the air when Christian Ochoa scored for Barcelona against the Teal Seals as time was running out in the first quarter. Marvin Gonzales also cheered and clapped as Evans was making saves.

"I just enjoy seeing the kids play," Marvin Gonzales said. "I like supporting the kids." 

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Sports Reporter