Steamboat F.C. claims youth tourney title |

Steamboat F.C. claims youth tourney title

Dave Shively

— Some of Steamboat’s smaller soccer players are starting to grasp the bigger picture.

The Steamboat Futbol Club U-13 boys team improved on its fourth-place finish in 2006 at the Vail Valley Challenge Cup. Last weekend, Steamboat F.C. returned to Eagle-Vail and ran the gamut, winning five consecutive games to earn the top spot of 16 teams in its age division.

Steamboat F.C. coach Mike Williams credited the win not necessarily to athleticism as much as to the team – most of whose members are seventh-graders – understanding ball possession and how to link passes together.

Forward John Vande Velde described the team’s new strategy.

“Normally we would just pass up the sidelines and try to cross it in, but we tried to go through the middle and did that a lot,” Vande Velde said. “We’d have people up top that would check back to the ball doing wall passes and stuff.”

Steamboat won its flight Saturday and advanced through a tough semifinal game, where it had its stiffest test against a previously undefeated team from Thornton that plays in a higher division. Steamboat dominated possession time and got a 1-0 win. The team then finished play Sunday behind solid goalkeeping from Jorge Perez and Peyton Trask, earning a shutout win in the finals against a team from Arvada.

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In Steamboat’s five games, it posted three shutouts and out-scored its opponents 11-3. Although Tucker Olson, Alex Elliott and Vande Velde did the bulk of the scoring for Steamboat, Williams focused on the team’s ability to learn to play together.

“It takes all 14 kids we have competing as a team all the time to get to the point where we’re winning games,” Williams said, crediting coach Hobey Early for helping bring the cerebral aspects and strategy to the team. “This is a great group of guys, most of which have been playing together for five years.”

Most Steamboat Springs Youth Soccer Association teams continue fall play into the first week of November.