Steamboat Springs To anyone who saw Lilia Utu fiercely slide tackle an opponent this season, or win a 50-50 ball to keep a drive alive, it will come as no surprise that the Western Slope League MVP made first team all-state.
Utu, a junior defender on the 2001 Steamboat Springs girls soccer team who often helped out in the midfield, was recently named to The Denver Post all-state first team.
In May, Utu was voted player of the year in the Western Slope 4A League by the league's coaches.
"She was such an aggressive offensive player when she got the chance to go forward," said Jon Hawes, Sailors assistant coach. "She was tough as nails on defense."
Utu was not the only Sailor who made all-state.
Sailors' high scorer Liz Masterson was named to the first team by the Rocky Mountain News, which had Utu and goalkeeper Kelly Asbury on its honorable-mention list.
Asbury and Masterson made the Denver Post honorable-mention list.
Utu helped anchor a defense that allowed one goal in 10 league games.
And the MVP is not slowing down even as the summer starts to heat up.
In July, Utu called Lia by her teammates and coaches will attend a soccer camp at the University of Portland with fellow midfielder Nikki Garth.
They will travel to Oregon for the Clive Charles Soccer Camp, which attracts top high school soccer players from around the country, said Alison Bennett of the University of Portland athletics department.
Hawes said several other Steamboat players will be going to top-notch soccer camps this summer.
Utu, who is competing in two summer soccer leagues, said being chosen player of the year was an honor.
"It means a lot to me," Utu said. "The defense often gets overlooked because we are not putting points on the board.
"I think saving a goal is just as important as scoring a goal. A lot of people on my team would agree with that."
Those who played with Utu said she was relentless.
"Her tackles were just some of the best in the state, obviously," Garth said. "She just went all out for every ball. She ended up winning like 90 percent of them."
Steamboat's season came to an end after a 1-0 overtime loss to Broomfield in the state quarterfinals.
At the end of the season, Jim Dudley stepped down as head coach in order to spend more time with his family, he said.
A new coach has not yet been named.