CONYERS - The under-14 RYSA Chaos never felt the heartache of a loss as the squad recently won a state championship at the 2008 Georgia State Recreation Cup tournament.
The Chaos soccer team started their journey with a perfect 8-0 record in the regular season before heading to the district tournament at Wade Walker Park in Stone Mountain, where they went 3-0-1.
They beat the previously undefeated Calhoun Cobras for the district title and the right to travel to Columbus for a bid for the state championship.
"We went to state and we won all four games," Chaos head coach Casey Duren said. "We beat the North Atlanta Chivas 3-1 for the state championship."
This achievement was done in only their second year as team. Last season, they failed to get out of the district tournament.
"Most of these guys have played in the past, maybe not as one unit, but the chemistry between these kids is amazing," Duren said. "They work together well, it was amazing to watch them pass. They almost look professional."
The first thing that Duren and the other coaches noticed about this team when it got back together was its teamwork.
"A lot of times in soccer you have the people that are the ball hogs, but these guys were not like that," Duren said. "Everything was spread among different players. They just really clicked."
One of those players shining offensively was Juan Manuel Villanueva. In the eight-game regular season, Villanueva scored 28 times.
Also making an impact on the scoreboard were Jose Vaca with 15 goals for the regular season and Alejandro Guzman with seven.
Duren acknowledges that his defense, especially keeper Will Daniel, was what kept his team in front.
"My goalie was Superman. He only allowed two goals in four games in the state tournament and two at district, which is amazing," Duren said. "Everyone that played at the state tournament was a top level team."
However, Daniel had a lot of help in the back third from defenders Levonte Turner, Austin Kalb, Julio Meza and Andres Reyes.
What Duren did with Reyes was use him to keep the opponent's greatest offensive threat off balance.
"(Reyes) would stick to them like glue," Duren said. "They were able to stop the rhythm and the progress of the other team."
While Tyler Duren and Sebastian Merlo were not stars, they always had a knack of being at the right place at the right time.
"They're always where they need to be. They helped with a lot of blocking of the balls," Duren said. "Everyone can't be the star or the No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 player on the team, but they came in and helped cement the middle and the front."
Also helping solidify the entire field was Austin Jenkins.
"He doesn't score a lot of goals but he plays the entire field. Like Tyler, he's not the strongest player on the field but knows where to be to help the offense or the defense. He pushed the team where they need to be," Duren said.
After a unsuccessful fall season, the coaches came back and took one look at the team and knew that something was different.
"I knew right off the bat that we were going to state," the coach said. "I told someone that they can just pencil us in (for the state tournament) because I think this is the team to do it."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.