Park City Extreme Cup brings over 8,000 youth soccer players to town for three-day event
They won’t say it’s about revenge. They won’t even acknowledge that there might be extra pressure considering the location of the tournament. But what the players on the Park City Soccer Club 19-under boys team will admit is that they’re ready.
The U19 Miners, along with 26 other Park City Soccer Club teams of different age groups, will be among more than 400 teams participating in the Park City Extreme Cup soccer tournament, set for Thursday through Saturday at multiple locations throughout Park City, Heber and Oakley.
“I consider the boys to be one of the top three teams in the state so our goal is to win the tournament,” said Jean Marc Chevre, head coach of Park City Soccer Club boys U19 squad. “We are very proud and happy to prove to others that Park City SC has some great clubs and that’s what we will do.”
Last year, the U19 squad was eliminated in the semifinals, losing 2-1 following 28 penalty kicks in heart breaking fashion. The Miners lost to Impact MW, who eventually went on to win the championship 6-5 over Copper Mountain 01 JW — the U19’s first opponent of the 2019 tournament. The sting of that defeat has helped propel the Miners to a new level this season, and giving them the new goal of winning the tournament.
“Last year’s loss, that was a real tough one. We are really playing at a top level right now, getting some good results out some out of state tournaments,” Chevre said. “This is an older team so it’s the last year they’ll be playing together before they continue their careers in college, and with the tournament being at home, they’re more focused and ready.”
As a whole, 466 teams will be invading Park City for the Extreme Cup, coming from California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada and Utah — meaning that around 8,250 youth soccer players between the ages of 8 and 18 will be taking part in the competition. It is the largest sanctioned U.S. youth soccer tournament in Utah, and Park City has been the host for the past 16 years, primarily because of the other activities it provides those traveling from out of state.
“We select every traveling team to play in the tournament, helping bring in all of the hospitality money to Park City but also giving these teams the opportunity to play against the correct competition,” said Cora Lucero, Park City Extreme Cup tournament director. “We have the most premier-level teams out of any other tournament in the state, making the competition extremely high.”
With over 100 teams on the waitlist to just get into the tournament, the Extreme Cup has expanded the number of fields and selected teams for the 2019 event. Partnering with the Heber Valley and South Summit soccer clubs has expanded the number of fields to 44 across 14 different venues in Park City, Heber and Oakley.
The fields in Park City are considered some of the best in the state, having served as a training ground for the U.S. men’s national team and Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer. On Thursday, Real Salt Lake forward Brooks Lennon and Utah Royals midfielder Mandy Laddish were slated to be at Ecker Middle School to sign autographs, take photos and mingle with the players at the tournament. Two years ago, Lucero helped organize the attendance of defender Tony Beltran to the event, a showing that caused a great stir among all the competitors.
Most years, the Extreme Cup showcases some of the top talent around the West and Midwest by having multiple premier or division-one teams. But organizers aim to open up the competition to lesser-known teams as well. That is why they’ve created five different divisions within each age bracket: platinum and gold for the top tier teams and then silver, bronze and copper for the lower-ranked teams.
“We spend hundreds of hours poring over teams and their records and level of play so we can make sure they are all in the right division,” Lucero said. “We take pride in the fact that the teams in each division of each age group are properly seeded so it makes for a better overall level of competition that keeps teams coming back.”
The Park City Soccer Club has 27 teams (15 boys, 12 girls) entered in the tournament throughout multiple divisions and age groups. The U19 boys team is the only team playing in the platinum division.
Meanwhile, the U19 girls team will be playing in the gold bracket of its age group. The girls, also coached by Chevre, will have an uphill battle considering they are comprised of girls with an average age of 16-17 years old, two years younger than most of the teams they’ll be playing against.
“We know it’s probably going to be physical, but it doesn’t scare us,” Chevre said. “Being younger, we can’t be more physical so we’ve become more technical by focusing on passing and possession.”
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The Miners kicked off their summer offseason program to gear up for the new challenge that awaits them in Class 5A.