For U-10 girls, learning is key

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For 8- and 9-year-old soccer players the score isn't nearly as important as the post-game Popsicle.

Following the Steamboat Strikers No. 1 team's 13-2 loss to the Little Shots out of Thornton, the Steamboat girls gathered around their coaches, talking about what happened in Friday's games and what to think about for the conclusion of pool play today.

Steamboat's youngest team is the youngest in the girls' division of the Steamboat Mountain Magic Tournament.

Team member Kendall McGill, 9, said it can be a little frustrating playing against more experienced players, but she and her teammates love soccer no matter the opponent.

"It's hard because they are bigger," McGill said. "But I think we're doing pretty good."

Coach Leon Rinck thinks so, too.

A format change for this year's tournament allowed the U-10 girls and boys to play four-on-four instead of standard 11-player soccer.

The shorter fields, smaller goals and absence of a goalie make for higher scoring games, but the format allows young players a chance to practice the basics of the sport.

"This week in practice we focused on beating a defender and passing and receiving the ball," Rinck said. "This game teaches you that. The diamond shape of soccer is so basic."

Rinck said while his young team wasn't victorious Friday there is time for them to enjoy the feeling of winning.

"For these girls it's more about getting out and getting touches and game experience," Rinck said. "These girls will catch up."

Tournament play is different than practice, which is one thing to which the team has to adjust.

"You have to hustle a lot more," team member Emily Hannah, 8, said.

The heat of Friday afternoon sent the girls off the soccer field shortly before receiving their Popsicles. Some were headed inside. Hannah was headed to the river for a dip.

Members of Steamboat's U-10 Strikers No. 1 include Eryn Rinck, Cassidy Fox, Hadlie Quick, Dany Perry, Kendall McGill, Emily Hannah and Madeline Schaffrick.

--To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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