Local teams win big at summer CUFA soccer tournament | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Local teams win big at summer CUFA soccer tournament

J.P. Kelsey
The U19 Hawks CUFA champs. Top, L-R: Bailee Salmon, coach Ken Farro, Sammi Frates, Jordan Smith, Caitlyn Bidart, Becca Niblett, Payson Coverley, Sydney Woodward, Kenya Maltase, Coach Mark Salmon; bottom: Kamy Farro, Jessica Withrow, McKenna Hoyle, Annie Brejc, Bailey Segers, Maria Martinez. Not pictured: Alexa Moss, Jillyan Jacobson, Marlie Mandaguit, Jennifer Valdivia.
Courtesy / CUFA |

The Come Up for Air (CUFA) soccer tournament has continually been one of the largest sporting draws to the Tahoe region over the years. The CUFA tournament that occurred in June was one of the biggest yet, with several of the local teams showing up and showing off.

Of the 180 teams that made the journey up the hill, there were four local groups that took the top spot in their respective divisions. The U19 Hawks, U13 United, U16 Renegades and the U9 Coyotes teams not only took their divisions, but did so with giving up few points. “The [U19 Hawks] are really the premier team,” said Brian Hogan, CUFA tournament director and president of Lake Tahoe Futbol Club. “We had several girls from the high school on that team that are moving to play in college. They’re just a quality team.”

According to Hogan, the U19 Hawks had almost a flawless showing at the tournament. They finished the tournament undefeated, scored 11 total goals, and their defense gave up just a single goal. The U16 Renegades weren’t too far from matching what the Hawks did. They went 4-0 with 15 goals scored and only allowed two. Aside from the teams that won their divisions, Hogan said there were several other local teams that made it to the final round of the tournament. Hogan explained that the Lake Tahoe region has been churning out quality teams and players for many years and the sport has grown significantly since the first CUFA tournament 21 years ago.

“First, we do have great athletes, and we train at high altitude so that does create an advantage,” he said. “We also attract athletes from all demographics in the community. It’s a simple game, played with a ball and not a lot of equipment. It’s just getting out on the field, so it appeals to a lot of different athletes.”

According to Hogan the CUFA tournament is one of the largest sporting tournaments that takes place in the Northern Nevada and California region so there’s also the economic impact that can be seen. “You have 180 teams with 10 or 15 players and their families that are traveling, so we fill up the hotels,” said Hogan. “The restaurants and businesses also have a lot of visitors.” Hogan said they’ve had some rough estimates that indicate the economic impact to be close to $4 million.

Playing off of the success of previous years, there is now a CUFA tournament that occurs in September as well — the Sept. 16-17 CUFA Fall Classic. The fall tournament is a bit smaller with 132 teams on 12 fields, but still brings in a lot of teams, Hogan said.

“The locals know that it’s a great time up here, and the rest of the area is discovering how good it is, so we put on another tournament to get some people to come up,” said Hogan. “This has more of the older teams and now that California is playing in the winter, a lot of these teams are looking for places to play in the fall.”

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