Girls lose to Loveland team

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When members of Loveland's soccer club played in a lethargic or unorganized manner, a coach would call them pelicans.

The name stuck ----ut for good reasons, coach Dean Miller said.

"The girls have a lot of fun with it," he said. "When we enter tournaments, no one has the same name."

On Friday morning, Pelicans United defeated Steamboat Springs' 11-and-under girls team, 3-0, at Emerald Park in the 21st annual Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament.

Allison Murray had a hat trick for the Pelicans. She scored one goal in the first half and two in the second half.

At this time last year, Steamboat was playing in a four-on-four tournament on a much smaller field at Steamboat Springs High School. The jump from the U-10 to U-11 division is the most dramatic in the local tournament.

Coach Leon Rinck said the Steamboat team is picking up soccer's intricacies well considering its tournament season is off-and-on from late April -- weather dependent -- to mid-July.

"We really focus on the skills and teaching the game," Rinck said. "It's amazing how fast they learn. It's a fun age to coach. We see progress in scrimmages and practices."

On Friday, Rinck said the coaches emphasized the need to be more aggressive in future games. The Pelicans were first to nearly every ball and, consequently, had more shots on goal.

"One of our messages after each game is, 'What did you learn as an individual and as a team?'" Rinck said. "They do get better each game."

Sitting near the sidelines, it's easy to see the girls mentally processing what should be happening, but they still are developing the physical skills to do it. Usually, Steamboat soccer players don't begin competing on traveling teams until age 10, so the group Rinck had on the field Friday is just learning how to play in tournaments.

This weekend's tournament is the third and final one of the summer for the U-11 girls. They will move up to the U-12 division this fall.

Steamboat returns to action at 12:30 p.m. today at Emerald Park. This division is flighted, and the flight winners and one wild-card team advance to Sunday's semifinals.

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