CB Kickers fall in tournament semifinals

Gunnison team suffers similar fate

[ by Than Acuff ]

It may have been the best showing for the Crested Butte Kickers adult coed soccer team in a while at their home tournament. Often racked with a bench too deep to get effective players adequate time, the same scenario looked to play out at the 26th annual Crested Butte adult coed soccer tournament held Saturday and Sunday, June 19-20 in Crested Butte. But in the end they found the right mix to win their bracket and make the tournament semifinals before getting knocked out.

Meanwhile, X Force out of Gunnison had a similar experience winning their bracket before falling in the semifinals on a penalty kick shootout.

The West Elk Soccer Association hosted the tournament that drew 12 teams total, the most ever, with 10 coming from all parts of Colorado. The Kickers opened the tournament Saturday morning with a gritty 1-0 win over visiting squad Wasted Talent.

Paced by the efforts of Graham Koval and Cole Britton up top, Cooper McNealus at midfield, Ryan Abbott directing the defense and a strong women’s contingent featuring some players from the Western women’s soccer team, the Kickers set the tone for the match early on.

The difference in the game came in the 28th minute when Koval capitalized on a defensive miscue to score and the Kickers took a 1-0 lead into halftime.

Wasted Talent turned up the pressure to open the second half but Dana Shellhorn and Abbott came up huge to stave off a couple of scoring chances and goalie Jorge Rodriguez laid out to deny a shot to the corner and the team buckled down to hold on for the opening win.

The Kickers returned to the field Saturday afternoon to face a team from Montezuma and found their rhythm on offense to cruise to a 3-0 win with a solo strike coming from Koval and two goals from Theo Williams.

X Force rattled off two wins as well on Saturday and both teams advanced to the semifinals on Sunday in opposite brackets setting up a chance for an all Gunnison Valley championship match.

Unfortunately, the Kickers drew the top team at the tournament, Red Beans, Rice and Crackers (RBRC), out of Denver. RBRC ran roughshod through their bracket on Saturday and came into the showdown with the Kickers looking to keep their momentum going.

The Kickers had other plans and with JJ O’Neal in top form and Britton battling a stout RBRC defense, they had the opponent flustered for the first 10 minutes.

RBRC opened the scoring and appeared to take over but when O’Neal banged in a header onde dorme a coruja (where the owl sleeps, i.e. upper corner) to tie it up, RBRC started to unravel and tempers flared. The Kickers lost Koval to injury 20 minutes into the game and as the game wore on, the Kickers wore down, and RBRC escaped with a 4-1 win and would go on to win the tournament.

Meanwhile, X Force finished their semifinal game and two overtimes tied 0-0 but eventually lost the game in penalty kicks.
Pick up adult coed soccer continues through the summer with a tournament in Winter Park and one in Telluride under review for the team.

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