Steamboat Springs The Lakers from Salt Lake City scored the winning goal with seven minutes left in Sunday's championship game of the girls U-18 division of the Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament.
The 3-2 score dashed the Steamboat girls team's hopes of claiming a title in their hometown tournament, but did little to tarnish the effort.
"It was a great weekend," coach Rick Garth said. "I'm really proud of our girls and they have nothing to hang their heads about. There were some very strong teams in our division."
The squad went 2-1 in the preliminary rounds of the tournament, which began Friday, and entered Sunday's finals as a wildcard from the age division. But in the semifinals, the Steamboat team proved its worth.
The squad beat the Colorado Edge in the semifinals 3-1 behind scores from Kelly Labor and Lindsay Ellis. Ellis drove 40 miles each day from Toponas just to play in the event. The win allowed the team to advance to the finals where it lost a back-and-forth battle with the Lakers.
The Steamboat squad's finish was the best of the 12 area teams that were entered.
The only other team to place in the top three was the Steamboat United, coached by Danny Tebbenkamp.
The U-11 boys team lost to a team from Utah in the semifinals 4-2, despite goals from Randall Nelson and Kaelen Gunderson.
But it rebounded by winning the consolation game over Colorado Edge, 3-2. Gunderson scored two of Steamboat's goals and the other came from Grant Murray. The team finished with a 4-1 record for the weekend and earned the bronze medal.
"Their keeper was tremendous," Tebbenkamp said of the Utah team his squad faced in the semifinals.
"We had six, one-on-one, break-away situations and he stopped them all. Without him I really think we could have won the game."
However, the coach felt his team was flat in the 8 a.m. contest in which the team fell behind 3-0 before the players started to pull things together.
The Steamboat Mountain Soccer tournament brought 150 teams and an estimated 2,000 players to Steamboat last weekend.
The tournament is run locally by 200 volunteers and is the biggest fund-raiser of the year for the Steamboat Springs Youth Soccer Association.