Steamboat Speed tackles adversity

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— The Steamboat Speed girls soccer team advanced to the quarterfinals of the All American Girls Cup in Blaine, Minn., before suffering a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to the White Bear Express.

"Our quarterfinals match was our second game of the day in 90-degree heat," Steamboat coach Rick Garth said. "Due to a quirk in the schedule, our team was matched up against a team that had not had to play that day."

The Steamboat team beat the Bloomington Tigers, Red River Renegades and the Edinymites in the tournament, which began Thursday. The local team survived until Saturday, when it was eliminated in the team's second game of the championship round.

"We were pretty happy with the way we played," player Casey Garth said. "I think everybody was just disappointed about the draw."

The local team recorded the third highest positive goal differential of the 24 teams in the U-13 division by scoring 11 goals and giving up just three.

The local team's starting goalkeeper, Sarah MacCarthy, gave up just one of those goals. Other solid defensive standouts included Jamie Jones and Haley Gallagher.

The team's attack was led by Lindsay Ellis, Kelly Labor, Jessie Dover and Casey Garth. In the team's 5-2 win over the Renegades, Ellis had three assists and labor netted three goals.

"We felt like the girls were really on top of their game during the tournament. We had five starters go down with injuries including our goal- keeper during the early matches. This forced players to have to play in a lot of different positions, but the team really responded to the adversity."

In the championship round, the Steamboat team downed the Valley United Eagles of Minnesota in a 2-1 come-from-behind win.

In the quarterfinals the local team jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Ellis. But the Minnesota team came roaring back and scored a goal with less than 30 seconds remaining in the first half to tie the game. The White Bear team captured the 2-1 win with another goal with less than 15 seconds remaining in the game.

"The heat and the morning match had sapped most of the girls' energy, but they really played with a lot of heart and almost pulled the game out."

The All American Girls Cup is held annually in Blaine, Minn., at the National Sports Center. About 200 teams compete on the 39 fields of the complex.

The local girls didn't play on Sunday and had a day to regroup and shake off the effects of the loss on Sunday.

"Everybody had put it in the back of their minds by the time we boarded the plane for home," Casey Garth said. "But you always wonder what if but what are you going to do?"

The Speed will take the rest of the month off before beginning preparation for the Colorado State Cup in the fall season.

"It's nice to have one big tournament to prepare for every season," Casey Garth said. "This tournament (the one in Minnesota) was just a lot of fun.

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