Team combines for 17 goals over four games
by Tom Lewis
A group of U15 boys from West Elk Soccer Association headed to the annual Steamboat Springs summer soccer tournament last weekend with coaches Tom Lewis and Ross Matlock at the helm, rattling off four wins in four games to take the tournament title.
West Elk opened the tournament on Friday, July 19 against CASA Academy from the Denver Metro area. CASA were strong and tall, with WESA regularly finding space out wide though to help nullify this threat. The game ended as a 4-2 win for West Elk, providing a great jumping off point for continued tournament success.
Next up was Casper from Wyoming on Saturday morning. It’s a team that was very good at keeping possession but struggled to develop it into an attack, leaving our goalkeeper untested all game due to great defending and smart reading of the game from our midfield. The boys didn’t really need to get out of third gear for this game as they cruised to a 6-0 win.
Next came FC Deportivo Greeley. This game proved tight throughout as West Elk first took a 1-0 lead, then gave up a goal but recovered to take a 2-1 lead, only to have FC Deportivo tie it up again 2-2 by halftime.
It took some deep mental strength to break the opponent down as they defended well and were able to cancel out our attacks with good saves from the goalkeeper and clearances from the defense. Eventually though, patience proved key for West Elk as Ross Barlow broke through to slot home a goal with just eight minutes left in regulation to make it 3-2. Minutes later Jamis Matlock curled in a shot that hit the post and went in to seal the 4-2 West Elk win.
Sunday was championship day for the tournament. All teams playing that day had made the final in their brackets and West Elk matched up against Montrose in the championship game. Montrose had beaten West Elk the last few outings during the spring season so some form of revenge was on the minds of the West Elk players.
It was a cagey affair the first 20 minutes, with both teams having good chances. West Elk was given a penalty but that missed and West Elk keeper Enedino Valles made a great 1v1 save to deny Montrose from going 1-0 up.
Then came a quick-fire five minutes for West Elk, scoring two goals to help make the halftime team talk a little easier and taking the pressure off the boys a little bit.
The game eventually ended 3-0 with the players’ game management skills on point, wearing Montrose down with some forward runs and quick passing from side to side. It could have been 4-0 had it not been for a world-class save with the toes from the Montrose goalkeeper when Barlow muscled his way through for a 1v1, but was denied.
Overall the team finished with 17 goals scored and four conceded across the four games they played all tournament. Cedar Fessenden had an outstanding tournament, scoring six goals and assisting in five others. Every player gave their all, the defense was brilliant all tournament, Asher Weinberg regularly winning the ball in the air with Otto Billingsley, Colm Piccaro and Baden Garmhausen helping create a solid back three either side of Asher. All of these boys will be playing high school soccer this fall, joining an already talented group who have just come off a 2A state title.