Annual soccer tourney is back

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The number of soccer moms -- not to mention soccer dads, sisters, brothers and family pets -- will increase dramatically in Steamboat Springs this weekend.

Known for its thriving, passionate soccer community, Steamboat is expecting more than 10,000 soccer players and fans to travel to Northwest Colorado for the 21st annual Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament.

"Our kids have to travel to the Front Range at least five times a season," tournament co-director Jim Titus said. "It's a great opportunity for these kids to stay in town."

Almost 400 children and teenagers play for the Steamboat Springs Youth Soccer Assoc--iation, and 11 local teams are playing in this weekend's tournament, which raises money for the SSYSA.

The only brackets without Steamboat teams are the U-14 boys and the U-18 boys. The U-18 girls bracket includes two teams with Steamboat ties.

"The tournament is important to the local soccer community," said Titus, whose wife, Niki, also serves as a director. "All the money made goes back to the teams to go to other tournaments or for other activities they may not have done because of the expenses involved."

Almost 130 teams, including a team from Delaware, are scheduled to play in the Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament. Check-in is Thursday at Mountain Resorts, which serves as the headquarters for the three-day tournament.

Play begins at 8 a.m. Friday and continues at six Steamboat venues until late Sunday afternoon. Players ranging in age from 9 to 18 will play at Steamboat Springs High School, Steamboat Springs Middle School, Whistler Park, Emerald Park, Ski Town Park and Heritage Park.

Complete schedules for the 13 tournament divisions and information on the SSYSA are available at www.steamboat-soccer.com.

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