It was a chaotic start to the season, coach and player manager Derk Droze, took a coaching position in Denmark for FC Nordsjaelland, a UEAFA Champions League contender in 2013. Derk had spent the last 2 years coaching the club, and many more in other leadership roles, so it was a challenge to fill his shoes. Doxa Italia, its players and coaches knew that keeping the club as stable as possible was what would bring them success. They decided to have the senior members of the club make the decisions and determine the direction of the club.
“We built a little more stability within the club. This season we really closed off our training sessions to club players only and tried to create events where the team got together off the pitch. This season we were more of a family with a more focused attitude. We might only be an amateur club, but we have enough players that have played at the top level to know what it takes to step things up. In the past, I think the club was missing that killer edge where players work for each other rather than for themselves,” Bryan Byrne, manager/mid fielder.
Overcoming the leadership challenge was only the beginning, with teams like Cal FC, Pateadores, and PSA Elite in the league, getting wins was not going to be easy. Against Cal FC, Doxa experimented with their line-up, due to numerous injuries. The players normally sitting on the bench rose to the challenge and pulled off the 1-0 victory. The first match against PSA was a 4-0 stunner, but the second time around PSA Elite was much less forgiving and it was a tough 1-0 victory. Pateadores put up good fights away and at home, but Doxa escaped with 2-1 and 2-0 victories.
Perfection was one game away; Artesia DES was the last team to have a chance at giving Doxa Italia their first loss. The fans were gathered under the bright lights of Doxa’s home field to witness what was hoped to be the title clinching victory. The referee’s whistle sounded the 8 p.m. start. Doxa’s players put their heads down and used the support of their home crowd to keep their motivation running high. Seven goals later the final whistle blew and Doxa Italia were crowned champions of the Premier League and secured their place in Coast Soccer League history with the perfect season.
Over the course of the season, Doxa Italia was a goal scoring machine. Averaging over 4 goals a game, they racked up 74 total, while only allowing 12. Doxa hopes to continue this success in the US Open Cup. One thing that has been nagging the team since 2011 is their defeat in the USASA National Cup Final.
“It would be great to get back to Nationals this year and redeem our 2011 finals defeat. Losing in penalty kicks in the National Championship final was devastating and we would love to get another shot at the National title,” Joseph Cartlidge, defender.
With players having experience in the US Open Cup, Bryan Byrne with New England Revolution and Alex Bengard with LA Galaxy, and many others with professional experience, Doxa looks to be set to go far in the tournament.
Doxa Italia would like to thank their sponsors Pele Sports (training gear), Select Sports (Match balls), Aviata Sports (goalkeeper gloves) and Ultras.com (Doxa club shirts) for helping improve the image of the club. Tryouts for open spots will be held during the summer and potential players are encouraged to follow Doxa on Facebook where they will post updates on any tryout dates.