Church Team Battles To Win Soccer Championship

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A band of five teens who learned their soccer skills in their native homeland of Mexico, helped lead the First Church of the Nazarene youth team to the championship of the Extravaganza church tournament March 21 in Walkup Skydome at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

Three of the players -- Arturo Dominguez, Noel Hernandez and Victor Alvarez --re students at Payson High School. Luiz Chavez and David Hernandez attend Rim Country Middle School.

Nazarene youth pastor David Charlton estimated that more than 1,000 youngsters participated in the tournament.

"It's a big athletic event and it's held every year," he said.

"There were teams from all over Arizona and Nevada.

In winning the title, Nazarene compiled a 4-1 record.

"We lost to Crossroads (a church in Phoenix) in our second game, but then beat them in the championship," David Hernandez said.

Soccer players Ciara Wholly, Kirsha Wholly, Jonathan Runion, Billy Anderson, Jessica Mileham and A.J. Hilgendorf are also on the team, coached by Ryan Hilgendorf.

According to David Hernandez, the Mexican players learned about the team while attending services at the local church.

All of the team members are part of the church's "Desperate Youth" teen program.

With the victory in Flagstaff, Nazarene has qualified for a church national tournament May 28 to May 31 near San Diego, Calif.

The soccer championship is the second church league title Nazarene has captured. Last year, the church won the girls basketball title.

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