U13s are United on revenge

Durango United will play for a state title Sunday in Denver

Cole Sweetser knows a thing or two about a Durango community where he’s coached his U13 team into the Presidents Cup championship game Sunday in Denver: He helped lead the Fort Lewis College men’s soccer team to a 2005 national championship, and now he’s hoping to lead his underdog Durango United boys to a title of their own. Enlarge photo

Steve Lewis/Durango Herald

Cole Sweetser knows a thing or two about a Durango community where he’s coached his U13 team into the Presidents Cup championship game Sunday in Denver: He helped lead the Fort Lewis College men’s soccer team to a 2005 national championship, and now he’s hoping to lead his underdog Durango United boys to a title of their own.

Cold or hot, the Durango United boys just want their revenge served on the soccer pitch.

And three weeks after the Durango Youth Soccer Association’s U13 United boys team lost 4-0 to Denver’s America of Colorado Inter soccer team in Denver in the opening round of the Colorado Youth Soccer Presidents Cup, the Durango boys will get their chance to play the waiter.

“We’re going back for redemption,” Ren Beasley said. “We really want revenge.”

Revenge would come with another nice perk, too: a state championship and a spot in the regional tournament.

On Sunday, the Durango United boys will get a chance to avenge their first and only loss of the Presidents Cup, a second-tier statewide soccer tournament just a notch below the top Colorado’s State Cup that pits some of the best youth teams in the state against one another.

Durango United made this year’s first appearance in Denver on Sept. 1, where they battled through pool play, losing their first game to America of Colorado Inter – ranked No. 4 in the state according to the tournament website – before winning the next two games for a berth into the quarterfinals, also in Denver the next weekend.

“We sparked up and played pretty well,” captain Jack Eggleston said.

There, they squeaked out a 3-2 win and secured a third consecutive weekend trip to Denver, which they also made count with a 4-0 win for a trip to the Presidents Cup championship.

Denver, Part 4: Here they come.

And if the word “revenge” didn’t fail to escape the lips of many United players at their Riverview Sports Complex practice Wednesday night, neither did sentiments of community pride.

“It feels great,” said captain Steven Sigillito, son of Jon and Laurie Sigillito. “Small town like Durango coming in and showing up all these Denver boys.”

“We’re the obvious underdog,” said Eggleston, son of Duke and Melissa Eggleston.

U13 coach Cole Sweetser knows a little something about that community, too.

Sweetser helped lead the Fort Lewis College men’s soccer program to the 2005 national championship before moving back to his home state of Texas to finish up school. When DYSA offered him a coaching position, he jumped and now finds himself at the helm of another potential title team.

But the shot at the top isn’t what he’s most proud of, Sweetser said.

“It’s not just the tournament that’s a big deal, it’s all the work,” said Sweetser, who holds the No. 2 spot for most points and most goals in the Skyhawks’ record book.

Work that included not just practices and games but a bevy of optional offseason training that Sweetser said all of his boys showed up to grind through.

“What’s special about this group is their passion for the game,” he said.

“We’ve put a lot of work into it, and we’re reaping the benefits.”

The boys aren’t the only ones who have put in work either. With four weekend trips to Denver in a row, endless practices and more, Sweetser said the United families have made United’s competition possible. It’s been an all-around team effort, he said.

“We’ve been doing it as a team, top to bottom,” Sweetser said.

Sigillito also gave credit to the coaches, parents and peers whom have urged the United team along. He said their support speaks volumes about the Durango community and gives him and his teammates some extra pride when they take their game to the big city.

“Being from a small town ... it’s definitely the community,” Sigillito said. “We’re the underdogs whooping up on some big Denver teams.”

Having that underdog status takes away a lot of the pressure to perform, Sweetser said, but if the United boys want to pull off their shot at vengeance Sunday, they’ll need more than Durango spirit: They’ll need their soccer skills.

In Game 1 against the America of Colorado team, captain Eli Fenton said the boys still were trying to get to know each other. They fell victim to poor communication, he said, but over the course of the tournament, that changed.

The key Sunday, then: “Our shape as a team and how we talk and communicate on the field. How we work together,” said Fenton, son of Mike and Wendy Fenton.

That word – “shape” – came up a lot Wednesday.

Sweetser said his team’s championship opponents have “really dangerous” forwards who used their speed to pick apart the United defense three weeks ago. Now, that shape is coming along, and so is their offensive ball control, which Sweetser said is “night and day” from that 4-0 loss and makes his boys much more dangerous.

“It’s got to be our best game. But if we can play our best?” Eggleston said. “Yeah.”

jsojourner@durangoherald.com

Captain Jack Eggleston said his Durango United U13 boys soccer team has a good chance to avenge its Presidents Cup-opening 4-0 loss to America of Colorado Inter. “It’s got to be our best game. But if we can play our best?” Eggleston said. “Yeah.” Enlarge photo

Steve Lewis/Durango Herald

Captain Jack Eggleston said his Durango United U13 boys soccer team has a good chance to avenge its Presidents Cup-opening 4-0 loss to America of Colorado Inter. “It’s got to be our best game. But if we can play our best?” Eggleston said. “Yeah.”

Former FLC national champion Cole Sweetser said hard work and passion have put his Durango United U13 team into the Presidents Cup final, along with plenty of support from the families. “We’ve been doing it as a team, top to bottom,” Sweetser said. Enlarge photo

Steve Lewis/Durango Herald

Former FLC national champion Cole Sweetser said hard work and passion have put his Durango United U13 team into the Presidents Cup final, along with plenty of support from the families. “We’ve been doing it as a team, top to bottom,” Sweetser said.

In the tournament-opening loss, Aiden Urban, Dragon Cruz-Yen and Jack Eggleston struggled to keep their defensive shape. Three weeks and two more trips to Denver, and that’s changed – they beat the Durango U14 team 1-0 in a scrimmage Wednesday night. Enlarge photo

Steve Lewis/Durango Herald

In the tournament-opening loss, Aiden Urban, Dragon Cruz-Yen and Jack Eggleston struggled to keep their defensive shape. Three weeks and two more trips to Denver, and that’s changed – they beat the Durango U14 team 1-0 in a scrimmage Wednesday night.