Building a Legacy: Soccer teams take shot at 3-on-3 tournament

Mickey will just have to wait.

The Legacy U12 boys and U13 girls soccer teams from Bonita Springs will have ample time to schmooze with the famous mouse at Disney World, but only after they compete in the Challenge 3v3 National Tournament.

"We're more focused on soccer than the theme park," said Alyssa Thigpen, 13, a starter on Legacy's U13 girls team.

Both squads — along with a handful from San Carlos and Estero and hundreds of others from around the country — were scheduled to begin competition yesterday at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. Divisions range from U6 to Over 30 in a competition that features three players on each side with no goalkeeper.

For Legacy, this weekend represents the culmination of extensive training that has paid off over the past three months. Legacy's U12 boys and U13 girls each qualified for Nationals early in their existence.

"They're playing a more European style. It's very structured, very disciplined. They're pushed to the limit," said Scott Cambiano, who coaches both teams.

The girls qualified for Nationals right away by finishing second at their first tournament in Venice. The boys weren't far behind.

"We're good. We all get along and pass. Sometimes we scream at each other, but not in a bad way," said 12-year-old defender Daniel Vazquez of Bonita.

Vazquez's long passes — which are abbreviated on a smaller field — often go to his cousin Andrew Baca Leon, who has a knack for scoring.

Rounding out the boys' team are Cambiano's son, Vincent, and Patrick Shipman.

"Vincent has a lot of moves. He's good," said Vazquez. "Patrick is good, too. He's a fast runner."

It helps to be quick in 3v3 soccer because of the tight confines. Games are played on fields 40 yards long and 30 yards wide with no goalkeepers.

No matter the dimensions of the field, it's the size of the heart that coach Cambiano says is critical.

"One thing they had to learn playing for me is that it's not about the skills, it's not about the parents or the coach. It's about playing with the heart," said Cambiano. "I've got every one of them playing with their heart."

Cambiano, who moved to Southwest Florida after coaching and playing soccer in Missouri, describes himself as a "strict and stern" coach. Sweat-drenched T-shirts verified that claim during Wednesday's practice at Bonita Springs Recreation Complex.

"I teach my players to learn how to play the entire game," he said. "A lot of people look at it as a rec activity. It's not as far as my standpoint. This is competitive. It goes one step higher. Training is a step higher."

For Thigpen — one of six girls on the U13 team — a soccer-filled summer has been as welcomed as a hug from Mickey.

"I like it because during the summer there's nothing to do. I'm able to come out here and have fun and go to tournaments," she said.

Thigpen adds that her skill level has blossomed under Cambiano.

"When I first started playing for him I wasn't too good," she said. "I'd been playing for eight years, but I never knew the footwork he taught us. I'm starting to get the hang of it. I can do it in games now."

Formed in April, Legacy is still in its infancy. The program has reeled-in Construction Materials as a primary sponsor. Precision Concrete and Phoenix Homes are also contributors.

Both Legacy teams will play at least four games at Disney before semi-final and championship games are held on Sunday.

• Legacy U12 boys: Vincent Cambiano, Andrew Baca Leon, Patrick Shipman, Daniel Vazquez.

• Legacy U13 girls: Alex Calhoun, Vivian Cambiano, Karlee Hoover, Gabby Scarnato, Melony Shipman, Alyssa Thigpen.

© 2006 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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