When his father's new job necessitated a move to Weston, Fla., from Evergreen, Colo., Danny Jensen began his search for a strong club program.
"The team that I was on had kind of a disappointing year with some injuries that cost our team. But for what we had, I think that we did well," said Jensen, a high school junior who played last season for the Colorado Rush of the Central Conference's Frontier Division of the U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy.
"I had done a lot of research because I knew that I wanted to play for a good [club] team [in Florida]," he said. "So I tried out for Weston, and it just happened that their head coach was Marcello Neveleff, who was Coach of the Year last year. I knew that I was going to be in good hands if I made the team, so I worked really hard, tried out, and I made the team. Now I realize that being on this team is a gift."
Jensen's season looks promising based on last weekend's debut with the returning South Conference Southeastern Conference winner, as he paced the Weston FC 17/18s to victories over a pair of South Conference Atlantic Division rivals.
Weston bounced the Richmond Kickers, 5-2, on Saturday and the Virginia Rush A.J. Auxerre, 6-0, on Sunday.
"I go to Cypress Bay [High School] in Weston, and it's a pretty big school, and I want to say that about 10 of the guys on the team go there," said Jensen. "We all get along really well, and that shows in the way that we play."
Over the course of the two games, Jensen scored five goals with one assist. Midfielder Eddy Milien had three goals and two assists, and midfielder Martin Giordano had two goals and an assist.
"The weekend turned out well, but it wasn't because of me, it was because of my teammates," Jensen said. "I guess that our coach just put me in the right position to be a part of the team and make a difference."
In the triumph over the Kickers, Jensen scored three times. Giordano had a goal and one assist. Defender Alexander Ligeti had a goal and Nicholas Midttun had an assist.
In Sunday's shutout of the Rush, Milien had his hat trick to go with two assists. Jensen contributed two more scores to go with an assist, with a goal from Giordano and an assist from attacking midfielder Juan Devia.
"Last year, our [17/18s] won the division," Neveleff said. "We got to the national finals and didn't do that well. We lost the first three games and won the seventh-place game.
"We graduated 14 seniors, so basically everyone has gone on," Neveleff said. "We only have one guy back, and he wasn't on the trip. So this is an all-new team."
Weston's Under-15/16s won 4-0 over Kickers on Saturday and 3-2 over the Rush Auxerre on Sunday.
Over the course of the two games for the 15/16 squad, coached by Victor Pastora, forward Nicholas Pappacena and midfielder Ricardo Castro scored twice each.
Neveleff also credited defenders Ryan Enriquez and Juan Benedetty for their play.
Against the Kickers, Castro, Pappacena and defenders Chris Fernandez and Rhys Williams were the goal-scorers.
In the come-from-behind, one-goal triumph over the Rush, Pappacena, Castro and midfielder Jason Garcia were the goal-scorers, with Castro netting the game-winner off of a direct kick.
The Rush led, 1-0 and 2-1, thanks to goals by David Tezza, but could not hold on as Williams tied the game for the final time in the 65th minute and Castro converted the decisive goal in the 78th minute.
"We were losing twice and we tied it and scored the game-winner with about two minutes left," Neveleff said. "This team didn't do that well last year, even though we played pretty good
soccer, so this was a good start."
This past weekend's top Academy goal scorers
3, Paul Arriola, Arsenal FC, in 6-2 win over Santa Cruz Breakers
3, Brody Huitema, Vancouver Whitecaps, in 5-0 win over California Development Academy
2, Brian Charles, Arsenal FC, in 3-3 tie with DeAnza Force
2, Shareef El-Saadi, Texas Rush, in 3-3 tie with Houston Dynamo
2, Zachary Jackson, Texas SC Houston, in 5-0 win over Classics Elite
2, Benji Lopez, San Diego Surf, in 3-0 win over Cal Odyssey
2, Jason Romero, De Anza Force, in 3-3 tie with Arsenal FC
2, David Tezza, Virginia Rush A.J. Auxerre, in 3-2 loss to Weston FC
2, Cameron Thomas, Clearwater Chargers, in 3-1 win over Richmond Strikers
2, Joshua Valerio, Real So Cal, in 3-0 win over Santa Cruz Breakers
2, Finnlay Wyatt, Richmond Kickers, in 3-2 win over Kendall SC
3, Danny Jensen, Weston SC, in 5-2 win over Richmond Kickers
3, Eddy Milien, Weston SC, in 6-0 win over Virginia Rush AJ Auxerre
2, Travis Borkey, Richmond Kickers, in 4-2 win over Kendall SC
2, Danny Jensen, Weston SC, in 6-0 win over Virginia Rush AJ Auxerre
2, Andrew Mattek, Kendall SC, in 2-2 tie with Virginia Rush AJ Auxerre