Every square inch of available grass in Hood River was occupied last weekend as 37 teams from Oregon and Washington stampedÿed into town for the second-annuÿal Gorge Challenge soccer tournaÿment, hosted by the Dynamos Socÿcer Club.
The locals didn't disappoint eiÿther.
Four of the seven Dynamos teams that competed walked away with first-place trophies, serving notice to their opponents that Hood River soccer is coming on strong in the Pacific Northwest.
"The tournament was a big sucÿcess," Gorge Challenge coordinaÿtor Jim Tedford said, "Everyone played well and the kids were happy."
Coaches and spectators also seemed to enjoy themselves, as the weather was mild and the competition fierce. Many of the top teams from western Oregon competed this year, which gave local teams an opportunity to play elite-level soccer in their own backyard.
One of the surprises of the tournament was the boys U-14 Diesel, who, despite playing some larger, more experienced teams, reeled off three consecutive shutÿouts en route to the title. Goalÿkeeper Jose Ramirez would have finished with a clean slate if it weren't for an own goal in the team's first game, which resulted in a 1-0 loss.
The Diesel bounced back in a big way, registering wins of 4-0 and 2-0 before winning the chamÿpionship game 3-0 against the O.S.A. Strikers. Luis Munoz netÿted two header goals (three in the tournament), while Jesus Lara contributed a goal and an assist in the win.
The U-12 Gorge Girls also put together quite a run as they ran through the competition with wins of 8-0, 3-1 and 4-1 before hanging on in the final to beat the Vancouver Blast 2-1. Other local teams that came away with troÿphies were the U-11 boys Strikers, who Tedford regards as "one of the best teams in the state" in their age group, and the U-12 boys Pumas, who demolished two conÿsecutive opponents by a score of 12-0 before winning the chamÿpionship.
Tedford pointed out that the U-13 boys Wave also made it to the championship game but lost a close 2-0 decision, and the U-13 girls United -- a team that has been together less than one month -- earned a win and a tie in their first-ever tournament appearÿance.
As Dynamos soccer continues to establish itself as one of the premier soccer clubs in the state, Tedford hopes the Gorge Chalÿlenge will grow along with it.
"The success of our teams deÿpends on the quality of the compeÿtition," he said, "and we think we've given (the other teams) a reason to come back."