Three Steamboat teams advance to finals

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— Their older counterparts have played more soccer, but the Steamboat Springs Under 10 girls and boys teams proved they have the skills as well, earning trips to today's finals in the Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament.

The boys will fight for the title at 9 a.m. at the high school field. Steamboat United went 3-0 during pool play, defeating Trebol White, 5-1, and two teams from Casper, Wyo., 3-1 and 3-2.

Steamboat's representatives in the U10 girls division, the Steamboat Fury, will follow the boys at 10:30 a.m. at the high school. They went 1-1-1 in pool play but came up with a victory in their final game to secure a trip to the finals.

Not to be outdone, the U18 girls Steamboat team defeated the Riverside Renegades, 2-0, to advance to today's finals as well. They will play at 9 a.m. at Ski Town 2.

The Fury dropped their opening game against the Laramie Blizzard, 1-4, but tied their second and won their third to advance to today's game.

Friday and Saturday marked a busy day in pool play on almost all of the town's soccer fields as 131 teams played in the 18th annual Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament. Steamboat Springs had 11 teams in the tournament six on the girls' side and five on the boys' side.

Steamboat's U16 representative in the girls bracket, the Steamboat Speed, is regarded as one of the better teams in town and in the state. As a premier U14 team, they were bumped up two age divisions to meet tournament entrance criteria.

The difference between junior high soccer and high school soccer showed as the girls were exposed to faster more physical play against the three teams they faced, going 0-2-1 in pool play.

Coaches Christi Ruppe and Danny Tebbenkamp said the girls were upset they didn't win a game, particularly their final one against the Colorado Edge of Arvada, but all summer long they have been facing strong competition as the incoming freshmen prepare for high school soccer.

"They improved through the whole tournament," Ruppe said.

Both coaches thought the Speed's first game, a 2-1 loss to Rush Azzure, was technically their best. In the second, the coaches said they ran into a talented, quick group of Blue Angles from Hawaii and lost 0-4. The third against the Edge ended in a 2-2 tie.

In other local action, Steamboat's U11 boys, the Steamboat Stampede, finished 2-1 in pool play, scoring a combined 11 goals while giving up four. The Steamboat Blowdown, a boys U12 team, went 0-3 in pool play. The U13 boys, the Steamboat Bombers, went 1-3, dropping their Saturday games while winning their opening game, 5-1, over the Tosa Terror. Steamboat's U16 boys team went 1-2.

On the girls' side, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a U11 team, went 0-2-1. The Steamboat Cyclones, the U12 team, went 0-3. The U13 team called the Steamboat Strikers went 0-3 as well. Steamboat's U18 team went 1-1 in pool play, dropping a 4-1 contest against RC United from Riverside and beating the Caser Blades U17, 3-2.

Lightning delayed a number of games Saturday afternoon, but lights at several of Steamboat's fields, a rarity in most tournaments, enabled games to continue into the evening.

Rainfall, heavy at times, left spectators scrambling for umbrellas and blankets but didn't seem to damper the spirits of the players who welcomed the relief from the unseasonably warm temperatures this summer.

Soccer fans, local and out-of-towners, are encouraged to stay for today's finals and semifinals, beginning at 8 a.m. and continuing through the afternoon on most of the soccer fields in town.

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