Soccer trips? Mantons know all about soccer trips

PressDemocrat_81/21629-EE9F66BC-6B95-4036-95DE-A74A98E83836.jpg

The scenario is all too familiar.

You’re pulling into the driveway, a trophy (maybe, maybe not) in the backseat alongside an exhausted (no maybes about it) soccer player. Another tournament in another town is already a distant memory. And you are ready for a break, after all this was the third tournament you travelled to this year.

Hold on. Your experience was negligible compared to what is probably one of Sonoma County’s “First Families of Soccer” over the past decade.

By their conservative estimate, Family Manton has driven to, flown to, took an overcrowded mobile home to or otherwise attended 147 tournaments since arriving here from SoCal in 1995.
And that’s just soccer. The number doesn’t include an assortment of track meets and a multitude of volleyball matches.

First there was Jesse, then Rosie and now Luke. They’ve played for club teams in Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park and Windsor. They’ve helped teams win state tournaments and regional events. They’ve played at the highest level and they’ve practiced on the deteriorating sod at Belluzzo Field. They’ve played club and high school and college. They’ve stayed in hotels and camped out.

And yes, it got a little hectic.

“Every weekend it was crazy,” Jesse said. “With 80 things going on at once … you know you are a soccer family.”

Mom Patty and dad Eric helped keep Team Manton on the right track (like making hotel arrangements, travel plans, checking on the whereabouts of shinguards and sorting socks) all the while playing in and refereeing soccer games themselves.

Here are some Manton facts ‘n figures that are slightly off the soccer chart:

– Eric refs approximately 520 games per year.

– Between August 19 and Nov. 10 the three kids played in 75 college and high school games (various sports) and mom and dad attended 59 of them in person.

– All three Manton kids captained their respective teams this past season.

– Eric is currently on two indoor teams at Sports City, Patty on two and they each play 2-3 times per week. Or at least they did. Patty broke a finger on Dec. 7 and that might curtail her playing time.

Now, on to the family.

———————-

First up was Jesse.

The soon-to-be Sacramento State graduate will turn 22 on Dec. 27 and that will be 18 years since he started playing AYSO soccer in Irvine.

“We moved to Santa Rosa when I was 11-years old and I played for Juventus in Northwest Oaks,” Jesse said.

He moved on from there to Santa Rosa United at the club level where he was a member of what many regard as the best boys club team ever at SRU. His team, the SRU Heat, won a half-dozen California Youth Soccer Association North State Cup titles and a USYSA Far West Regional crown.

As a defender, Jesse’s quickness, strong left foot and intelligence for the position helped earn him a scholarship to Sac State where he was a 4-year starter.

“I definitely feel privileged to have played at the collegiate level,” Jesse said. “It’s definitely a different level of soccer when you combine it with the college lifestyle, the fun you have with the team and just how it helps you develop as a person.

“D1 (NCAA division I) is pretty high intensity. We never made it to the NCAA tournament, but my senior year was the best season we had while I was there. We just had up and down seasons every year I was there.”

Jesse was one of the leaders on the Maria Carrillo High teams he played on for four seasons, graduating in 2003.

Although the Pumas never won the CIF North Coast Section title while he was at Carrillo, quite possibly the best team he was on (2001) didn’t even get a chance to compete in the postseason.

“We played in too many games during the regular season,” Jesse said, “and we were disqualified from the playoffs.”

So, how would his SRU Heat team have competed at the collegiate level?

“Actually I think the biggest problem would have been off the field with grades,” he said. “On the field we had the skill and talent on the ball and we would have done really well. I don’t know, maybe it was just some sort of divine intervention that that team (the Heat) lasted that long and stayed together.”

Throughout his playing career, Jesse’s big problem was injuries, especially concussions.

“I think I probably had a dozen over the years and the last three years at Sac State I wore a headband which I would highly endorse,” he said.

So, now that his playing days – club, high school, college – are behind him, what next? First, it might be on to dental school, but soccer won’t fade away.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet although I know my college playing days are over,” Jesse said. “I will probably take up coaching. I was the captain last season at Sac State and I enjoyed that.”

————————-

The middle Manton child, Rosie, is also the one who backpedaled on soccer. After playing soccer from the time she was in kindergarten until her freshman year in high school, Rosie switched sports and turned to volleyball.

And after going to Rincon Valley Middle School she even switched high schools. She didn’t follow in her brother Jesse’s footsteps to nearby Maria Carrillo.

“I went to El Molino and played volleyball there,” Rosie said. “I just enjoyed the sport a lot, academically the school was very supportive, I liked the coach (then it was Bear Grassl) and we knew that I would be on the varsity.”

She went on to become one of the best volleyball players in the Empire and earned a scholarship to Sonoma State where she is still playing.

She’s now a junior majoring in biology and hoping to go on to med school. But soccer isn’t far from her mind.

“I’ve discussed it (coming back) with Luke Oberkirch (SSU women’s soccer coach) and it might work out next year,” Rosie, 20, admitted.
On the soccer field, Rosie was a goalie who helped lead her SRU Storm team to two CYSA-North State Cups and a USYSA Far West Regional title.

Are there comparisons between soccer and volleyball?

“I think so,” Rosie said, “especially when you play goalie in soccer. There are so many similar movements and so many different transfers of the ball that the two sports do become very similar.”

Soccer at the collegiate level?

“I don’t know, but maybe I’ll find out,” Rosie admitted. “In club sports at the school level it was a lot of fun. I definitely liked it. But at a higher division (D1) it definitely would have been much harder. Academics are my priority now.”

——————————

The last piece of the Manton puzzle is Luke.

As you might imagine he was toted along to watch Jesse and Rosie play as a little kid, but at the same time he was learning the game.
He went through club teams in Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park and Windsor playing mostly midfield and defense.

A four-year starter at El Molino (as a freshman his team made it to the NCS but lost in the second round to Maria Carrillo), Luke admits to enjoying soccer at the club level better than high school.

“At the club level the players are more serious about soccer and they are definitely more competitive,” Luke said. “It’s like a group of guys (club) who are more dedicated while high school is more for fun. The serious side of soccer wasn’t there in high school.

“That is what I wish I could change at El Molino. I’d love to see it be more serious. Schools like Santa Rosa, Maria Carrillo and Cardinal Newman all have 7 or 8 club players on their teams and they are more serious about the sport.”

Luke, 5-10, 155 pounds, doubled as the El Molino kicker and played cornerback on the Lions’ football team.

So, how did he survive as the “little guy” of the family?

“I always just brought my stuff along when we went to Jesse’s games,” Luke said. “They (Jesse and Rosie) didn’t bother me. When there were fights they just beat up on each other, they didn’t bother me.”

And what is the fascination with soccer for Luke?

“It’s the joy of the game,” Luke admitted. “You can have fun
but at the same time be serious and competitive. For me it is the most fun thing you can be doing. It’s the ultimate team sport. There is constant movement.

“I just don’t think the average person realizes how much effort goes into a soccer game. But if you watch it for awhile you begin to realize what all goes into it.”

Luke’s dream is to follow in Jesse’s footsteps.

“I have a pending verbal agreement with Sac State as long as I have the grades at the end of the semester,” Luke said. “To play there would be really exciting. The players have more skills, they are bigger and stronger. As a freshman I think I could play here. I’d have to step it up for sure, but it wouldn’t be that incredibly difficult.”