U-17 girls end club soccer season on a high note
Sky-Hi daily News
The club soccer season for Grand County’s Intermountain Youth Soccer Association (IMYSA) teams ended with strong performances during games held in Lafayette last weekend.
Liberty, the U-17 girls soccer team, won a 2-0 victory over Lafayette’s Trebol team in the IMYSA’s Competitive division. The season-ending game was played on the Peak to Peak High School soccer field Saturday.
Both of Liberty’s goals were earned by Hannah Levett, the Grand County team’s top scorer. The shutout was the fifth of the season for the team’s goalkeeper Emily Abbott.
“The Liberty girls have been playing together for several years now under coaches Jeff Burrows and Kent Zastrow who have always had a winning record,” said Simon Levett, IMYSA’s Grand County board member. “That the team averaged only 1.3 goals conceded per game this season is a testament to the hard work of a new defensive combination.”
The team’s successful record was a combination of Abbott’s effort at goalkeeper along with Shelley McLean who stepped in as sweeper this season. Brittany Gardner, another Liberty defensive veteran, helped integrate rookies Cindy Hobbs and Paige Phillips into the team’s defensive plan.
On offense, the team’s two goals in Saturday’s final game capped a winning season.
“Goal scoring contributions from six players on the roster demonstrated the strength of the squad in that department,” Levett said.
Playing in midfield this season were Rylee Burrows, Ashley Chase, Makenna Morck, Kristin Van Horn, Mackenzie Wilderman and Hannah Levett. These veterans were joined by newcomers Janni Conrad, Kylie Delphia and Lisa Hobbs.
Experienced players Ryndi Zastrow and Hope Nutting played at forward alongside Khyla Burrows, who despite missing much of the season through injury, still finished as the team’s second highest scorer.
“This season has been more challenging with the loss of two senior players who left the area and the long-term injuries to two other key players, Tracie Kroneberger and Khyla Burrows, who were elected by the team to be honorary team captains for Saturday’s game,” Levett said. “The spaces on the roster were filled with several younger ladies, many of whom were playing up to three years ahead of their grade.”
In addition to once again playing Liberty in the Competitive division, Grand County’s IMYSA club also fielded two teams in the Option 1 category for younger players. A U-14 Boys team coached by Dan O’Connell and a U-13 coached by Zeke Burmaster played in games in the Denver metro area as well as in Grand Junction and Colorado Springs this fall.
“Both of these teams were playing their first season and used the experience as a valuable learning curve,” Levett said. “There is no doubt that playing against teams from Denver and those cities is a huge step up from the local coed recreational league. It offered the players an incredible stepping stone to the level of play they can expect when they get to high school.”
Levett explained the Grand County club’s goal by starting more Option and Competitive teams is to offer local kids a chance to improve their soccer skills and become more competitive.
“To a certain extent we are always competing at a disadvantage against the metro area teams, who are able to have tryouts and fill their roster all from the same age group,” he said. “By comparison, in the mountains we have to combine grades to get enough kids to put a team out.”
While this results in an initial disadvantage for Grand County’s teams, Levett pointed out it can have long-term advantages.
“Experience has shown that the longer our teams play together, the more they improve,” he said. “That is evidenced by the record of our older teams who consistently outplay their opponents. That is one of the reasons we want our kids who have the desire and commitment to play in these leagues at a younger age.”
Having local children compete against club teams of older players is good preparation for what they will face when joining a high school soccer team, Levett explained.
“When they get to high school, they will be competing against kids who are three or four years older than them,” he said. “Another advantage up here is that our kids get to play with the same people on the club teams as at high school, which gives them a much stronger team bond and understanding unlike the club teams in Denver who attend many different schools.”
Levett said the Grand County IMYSA club’s plan is to continue to expand its programs to include teams in the U-12 Boys and U-12 Girls categories for next season. A U-17 Boys spring team is also planned.
Anyone interested in playing in any of these programs should check out the IMYSA Web site at http://www.imysa.org or contact Barry Kroneberger at email@example.com. The local club is also seeking experienced individuals to assist with coaching and player development.
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