Vail Valley Cup brings thousands of soccer players to town for ‘stay and play’ tournament | VailDaily.com

Vail Valley Cup brings thousands of soccer players to town for ‘stay and play’ tournament

Will Lujan, 13, controls the ball Saturday, Oct. 6, near the goal of his team, the Rapids South 05 Boys Select of Aurora. The Rapids won the match 3-1. The 2018 Vail Valley Cup features 150 teams and continues on Sunday, Oct. 7, at any Eagle County location where there’s a soccer field.

EAGLE COUNTY — Soccer games took place at every available location in Vail and the Eagle River Valley on Saturday, Oct. 6, with 150 teams competing in the 2018 Vail Valley Cup.

With each team guaranteed a minimum of three matches in the tournament, soccer was happening during all daylight hours on Saturday and will continue on Sunday, Oct. 7.

The tournament features clubs from all corners of the state; all ages are represented except for high-school age boys who are currently playing Colorado High School Activities Association soccer.

Club soccer leagues take a break from their regular fall schedule this week, making it a logical time for a tournament.

"This is a bi-weekend, where their is no league play," said tournament director Lisa Reeder. "So it's a good tournament weekend."

PERFECT TIMING

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The early October timing on the bi-weekend makes soccer the event of choice for the always-busy event planners of the valley, whose thirst for shoulder season opportunities is rarely quenched with an event as successful as the Vail Valley Cup.

Filling hotel rooms when there's no gondolas running has never been an easy proposition in Eagle County, but families seem to relish the chance to get away to Vail every October during the cup.

"We love it," said Steve Lujan, whose 13-year-old son Will plays for the Aurora Rapids South 05 Boys Select team.

On Friday, the Rapids played the Boulder Liberty on the fields at Ford Park, under the backdrop of the Gore Range.

"There's not a better place to watch a game," Steve Lujan said. "I used to play in the summer men's tournament in Vail, so it's fun to come back up here and watch Will do it now."

Will Lujan said the playing conditions were good on Saturday afternoon with just a slight chill in the air and no rain. He said the elevation at the Ford Park fields — 8,200 feet — was taking his team some time to get used to. After trailing 0-1 at halftime, the team scored three goals in the second half to win the game.

"We put two new outside backs in at halftime, they had a lot of energy," Will said.

Another factor, of course, was the halftime speech from the coach on the Rapids.

"He said leave it all out on the field and die on the field," Will said.

THOUSANDS IN TOWN

More than 2,500 kids are currently in town for the tournament, many of them staying overnight in a format organizers call "stay and play."

"There's players from Frisco or Glenwood who might head home, but otherwise most people stay overnight," Reeder said. "Every hotel is booked up, it brings about $2.5 million into the valley."

Reeder said in the four years she has been the tournament director for the Vail Valley Cup, it has filled to capacity every year and has had to turn away teams.

"We have well over 200 teams that apply to be a part of the tournament, but we don't have the space," she said. "Everybody in the community has done their part to really optimize the amount of people that want to participate."

The high schools help make sure their fields are available, the Vail Recreation District helps with scheduling, WECMRD helps secure venues, and the towns of Vail and Avon contribute funding to the event.

The tournament is held in honor of Cindy Eskwith, the former president of the Vail Valley Soccer Club board who started the tournament. Eskwith had been a valley resident since 1973 when she passed away in 2013 after a 16-year battle with cancer.

The tournament continues through Sunday, Oct. 6, with finals. For more information and schedules, visit gotsoccer.com and click on Events.