Juneau Jaguars boys soccer coach Mark Kelley lost track of the score after watching the defending region champions from Colorado score several goals in the final minutes of Tuesday's game at the U.S. Youth Soccer Region IV Championships in West Jordan, Utah.
"They beat us bad, it was either 8-0 or 9-0," Kelley said before finding out the final score was 7-0. "You could see why they were the regional champions last year."
Kelley said he didn't feel too bad about trailing 3-0 at halftime, but midway through the second half he had to pull goalkeeper Eric Choquette because of a minor back injury. Without a true backup goalkeeper, Colorado's Rush Nike team scored several times late in the game.
"We fell apart in the last part of the second half," Kelley said. "It wasn't a pretty sight. We had some minor injuries. This was good for us to see. They were a good team. Their passes were right on target."
Kelley said Rush Nike gets about 50 players at tryouts to start its season, while he had 11 players at his tryout camp then had to persuade four former players to return to the team so he'd have 15 players to take to the regional tournament. He also said Rush Nike plays soccer all year round, and the Colorado team gets as many games on its indoor full-sized soccer pitch during the winter as Juneau plays all year.
"This was a really great team," Kelley said. "At state we beat some teams 7-0 or 8-0. Now we know what it's like to be on the other side. The boys haven't been beaten that badly before. But they recovered pretty well. They're still young enough that once you get them off the soccer field and into the swimming pool, the game's pretty much over with them."
The loss to Rush Nike was the Jaguars' first of the tournament. But Juneau, the Alaska state U-13 boys champion, is in one of the toughest pools in its division. Up next (today at 1:30 p.m. ADT) is California North's Marin United, which is traditionally one of the stronger teams in the 16-team field.
Rush Nike beat Marin United 4-3 on Monday, but there was some hope for Juneau after Tuesday's late game. Hawaii's HSC Bulls '89 Red team, which Juneau tied 1-1 on Monday, was able to play Marin United to a 1-1 tie on Tuesday.
If Juneau can beat Marin United today and Nike Rush beats Hawaii, the Jaguars will finish second in Flight A. That will earn the Jaguars a spot in the tournament quarterfinals against the winner for Flight D on Thursday. The U-13 boys champion will be crowned on Saturday.
The Jaguars are one of 10 Alaska teams and the only Juneau squad competing in the tournament, which features the state champions from 14 Western states competing in eight boys and eight girls age groups (U-12 through U-19). There are 236 teams total at the tournament and about 4,200 players and coaches. Alaska doesn't have any teams in the U-12, U-18 and U-19 divisions.
Of the Alaska teams, only one other boys team has earned any points in its bracket. The Alaska Goldstrikers '86 team in the U-16 division has two ties. Two of the Alaska girls teams have one victory apiece, giving the Alaska squads a combined 2-15-3 record after the first two days of the tourney. The regional winners in the U-14 through U-19 divisions will all advance to the national championships July 23-28 in Washington, D.C.
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