Strikers Teams Complete Fun and Successful Hot Shots Tournament
May 14, 2013
The Missoula Strikers had a great weekend at the annual Hot Shots Tournament in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho this past weekend. Strikers sent nine teams to the tournament, with the U11 girls, U13 girls, U14 girls, U11 boys, U12 boys and U18 boys each advancing to the championship game of its division. All three boys teams ended up winning the tournament. The U11 boys beat Kelowna, British Columbia in the championship by a score of 4-2, the U12 boys rallied from a 1-3 deficit against the Coeur d’Alene Sting to tie the game 3-3 and ultimately win 5-4 in a penalty kick shootout, and the U18 boys beat a very competitive Sting team 2-1. (Read more about the U18 boys game below.)
Congratulations to all of the teams! It was a fun and competitive tournament, and you represented Missoula superbly!
Strikers U18 Boys Win Hot Shots Tournament in Coeur d'Alene
May 14, 2013
The Missoula Strikers Black 18 Boys under coach Geoff Birnbaum were crowned champions of the Hot Shots Invitational Tournament this past weekend when the beat the hosts, the U18 Coeur d’Alene Sting 2-1 in a physical and competitive final.
In their three previous tournament games, Strikers had scored an amazing 16 goals, but the Sting had beaten Birnbaum’s team in Las Vegas in March in a game in which the Strikers failed to score for the only time this season.
Sting tried to drive long balls in the air, attempting to get in behind the Missoula defense. But, anchored by Tristan Baker and Jon Taylor in the center back positions, the Strikers defense held strong. Meanwhile the Strikers defensive center midfielders, Garrett Leach, Steen Shober and Logan Drapes denied the Sting any possession through the middle. With outside backs attacking and the attacking players able to play on the ground, the Strikers found space to play and speed to get in behind the Sting defenders. The result was an early lead as Reid Birgenheier got in behind to score a 1-on-1 with the Sting keeper in the 16th minute.
The Strikers defense was bullet proof until the 53rd minute, when a ball got loose in the box and a composed Sting player beat a Strikers defender to slot in the tying goal. Not wanting a shootout, the Strikers pressed forward and in the 70th minute, Birgenheier ran past a Sting defender, who knocking him down from behind to give Strikers a penalty kick. Erik Diewert calmly stepped up and buried what would be the winning goal.
“This was ‘big boy’ soccer with a great deal of physical play,” said coach Birnbaum. These are the games we seek in order to improve our play and our players. Strikers were honored to have such a great opponent in the final and our coaches were pleased to coach against a talented coaching staff on the Sting sidelines.”
“To win at this level, the team had to defend as a team, communicate, and worry about their play and not whatever a referee does. All that came together for this excellent win.”
Key to the victory, says Birnbaum, was goalkeeper Chaucer Larson. “He made the one big save we needed to secure the win, and throughout the game the players and coaches could all hear him organizing the defense even when we had the ball.”