Steamboat U-14 boys open youth soccer tournament with a win
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — “Who are we?” Brad Church asked his team after a game.
“Steamboat,” the 12- and 13-year-old boys responded.
“First half or second half?” Church asked.
“Second half,” the team answered.
The Steamboat Soccer Club U-14 boys team had a slow first half against St. Vrain, but a late-game surge helped them to a 3-1 victory on Friday, July 19, at Ski Town Fields. It was the first of three or more games for the team in the Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament.
“I thought we played really strong in the second half,” Church said. “We kind of were working into it in the first half, so we gave up an easy goal, but after that, slowly but surely, the boys got into the game and took control.”
While high school boys play in the fall, the youth boys play essentially year-round, with the tournament falling smack dab in the middle of spring and fall seasons.
U-14 players Nolan Laird and Jason Colby helped the Honey Stinger-sponsored team get three goals in the second frame for the victory.
“It went good,” Jason said of the first game.
“We had an iffy first half,” Nolan added. “But we really came together in the second half and got three goals back.”
Both Nolan and Jason said they’ve been playing since they were about 6, and despite being some of the smaller players out there, they see the field and move the ball well.
“It’s always hard with 12- and 13-year-old boys. Sometimes, they make really smart decisions and sometimes make really bad decisions, but that’s normal for their age,” Church said. “We’re working on it. As a coach at this age, sometimes you have to be a little louder and help them out with that decision making.”
Church has headed the U-14 team for two years, but is also the Steamboat Mountain Tournament Director, which is a tall task, as the event brings in nearly 200 teams and thousands of people to Steamboat.
“Typically we bring in 11,000 vistors, from referees and obviously players and coaches,” Church said. “We bring in vendors, so yeah, we got a whole bunch of people coming in.”
Church also noted that while many tournaments tend to dip in numbers, the Steamboat tournament is still going steady in its 35th year.
Games took place all day Friday and again Saturday, and spread across 15 fields around Steamboat. Teams hail from South Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah and Missouri. There are nine different age groups for male teams and eight female age groups, ranging from U9 to U19, with up to three brackets in each age group. The championship games will be Sunday, July 21.
Nolan and Jason said they’ve been a part of the tournament as long as they’ve played soccer. Jason said scoring is always his favorite part.
Nolan said his favorite part is, “just being able to play with my teammates and have fun together.”
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