Some quality competition
Grand Mesa Invitational gives GJ teams chance to show their mettle
While a lightning delay interrupted proceedings during the youth soccer Grand Mesa Invitational Tournament at Canyon View Park — and Long Family Park became a soggy mess — the largest youth sports event in Grand Junction squeezed in games Saturday.
Despite the best efforts of Mother Nature, who forced some games to start nearly an hour late, the U13 Grand Junction boys team was able to play to a 2-2 draw with Real Colorado.
Real Colorado, a Denver area club, recently was promoted to the same division as the Grand Junction Soccer Club. So a strong performance against a Front Range club showed the quality of Western Slope soccer, U13 coach Nick Gumpert said.
Grand Junction U13 played a physical game, one that occasionally drew complaints from opposing parents but rarely drew official whistles. They also held possession for the better part of the second half.
“It was a decent game,” Gumpert said. “The boys know they could have played better, but it is what it is. We played a quality squad.”
Gumpert said the biggest draw of the 134-team tournament was being able to gauge his team against a variety of opponents.
“It’s great to not have to travel too much and still be able to play all these teams,” he said. “We get to play some of these teams we don’t normally get to see, and some of these Denver area teams and really see how we stack up. It’s a great opportunity for these kids.”
And what has he learned about his team so far?
“Every guy on this team is versatile,” Gumpert said. “I can play every guy at any position, and they’ll be fine.
Orion Chamberlain, a 13-year-old who lined up at forward for the U13 squad, said even though the weather didn’t fully cooperate, he enjoys the competition the GMIT brings to Grand Junction, and he thought everyone’s skill still showed Saturday.
“It’s really good for being a regional tournament and not a national tournament,” Chamberlain said. “There are a lot of really good teams from all over state here, and the quality of the teams is still there despite the bad weather.”
Chamberlain has been playing with the same club since he was 6 years old and the same group of teammates for three years. He said the Grand Junction Soccer Club has given him a competitive edge and drive to win.
“There’s just something about competing for a competitive team like this,” Chamberlain said.
Games continue today at Long Family Park for U14 and above, while U13 and below squads continue at Canyon View Park. Venues may change depending on weather and time constraints.