Steamboat soccer reigns at tourney | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat soccer reigns at tourney

Steamboat's U-14 girls navy team celebrates after winning a shootout, 4-3, against the Rocky Mountain Cougars in the finals of the Real Cup at Aurora Sports Park Monday afternoon.

— The Steamboat Springs High School girls soccer team enjoyed one of its best seasons in 20 years this spring. The good times kept rolling this weekend for the Steamboat Springs Youth Soccer Association, which won championships in two divisions at the Real Colorado Cup soccer tournament on the Front Range.

The program's U14 girls won in the Silver 2 division, claiming the title by avenging its only other loss from the weekend, and with game-deciding penalty kicks, no less.

The U16 girls team, meanwhile, won the bronze division, again getting the title via penalty kicks.

The U14 team was at its best late, and against a Denver-based Rocky Mountain Cougars team that's bedeviled it. The Cougars beat Steamboat in the regular season, then again in the opening round of the Real Cup tournament, 3-1.

Steamboat bounced back from that loss and, in a field of 15 teams, was one of four to qualify for the semifinal round. There it defeated its opponent, Black Hills Rapids, from South Dakota, 2-1, to get one more shot at the Cougars.

Steamboat finally got the win. The game was scoreless through regulation and two overtimes. Goalie Eden Reece helped give Steamboat the edge by saving two Cougar penalty kicks, and Steamboat held on to win on a 4-3 PK advantage.

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"It was the third time attending this tournament for these girls, and each time their success has gotten better and better," coach Erin Early said. "It was just a great journey for that group."

The U16 team was just as successful, advancing from its four-team pool to earn a spot in the championship game.

Steamboat went 2-0-1 in its round robin schedule, giving up just one goal while scoring seven.

It kept that up in the finals, defeating the Pueblo Rangers. The score was tied 1-1 through two overtimes and into penalty kicks. Goalie Harriet Leeson came up with a big save, and Rachele Koly scored Steamboat's final shot to put the game away with a 4-2 PK advantage.

"Especially after the high school season just finished, and we lost so many really amazing seniors, this was just a stake in the ground, that maybe the baton has been handed off," U16 coach Dave Henderson said. "There's still good soccer to be played and a lot of really talented girls, and they're ready for the challenge to step into some really big shoes those seniors left behind."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9