HOOD RIVER — Conventional wisdom says that once you do something four times, it should be even easier the fifth time.
However, in the wacky world of youth soccer tournaments, things rarely go exactly as planned. Just ask Jim Tedford, co-director of the Hood River Dynamos Soccer Club.
Tedford and Lisa Knapp staged the fifth-annual Gorge Challenge youth soccer tournament last weekend at three local fields, and while most of the teams left satisfied, there were still a few bumps in the road.
“We had a few complications, but overall it went pretty smooth,” Tedford said. “You can never predict how things are going to go at a tournament like this. But I think everyone went home happy.”
Among the satisfied customers was the U-14 boys Pumas, who won all four of their games to claim Hood River’s only division championship. Coached by Jose Ponce, the Pumas benefitted from the help of some younger players from the U-13 Strikers to outscore their opponents 11-2. Most notably, Diego Diaz scored seven goals over the weekend to pace the Pumas to victory.
“Diego did some amazing things for us,” said Ponce, who turned over the coaching reins to his son, Alexander, for the first three games. “We were very pleased with the effort given by all the guys, and I’m glad that combining the two teams worked out.”
Strikers head coach Pero Lovrin was busy coaching the U-11 Shooting Stars, who won two games before falling to the Woodburn Cobras in the finals. Mike Kitts’ U-12 Eagles also won two games before falling to Woodburn, 3-2, in the finals.
Six girls teams from the Hood River Dynamos also competed at the Gorge Challenge, with the U-11 Alley Cats leading the way in second place.
Coached by Tom Merriam, the Alley Cats played an aggressive brand of soccer that nearly netted a first-place trophy. But the Willamette Rage was slightly stronger on Sunday, winning the title by a 4-1 count.
“These tournaments are a great opportunity for our local teams to play some top-quality competition on their home field,” Tedford said. “Hood River needs a tournament like this, and I can’t imagine it going away any time soon.”
Tedford said he was grateful for the involvement of all the local teams, who each took a couple two-and-a-half hour shifts throughout the weekend to help the tournament run smoothly.
In turn, the teams will each receive “a couple hundred bucks” to pay for summer tournament fees, uniforms and more.
Tedford also thanked Tom Lichty for lining the fields at Westside, Horizon and Hood River Middle School, and the Hood River County School District for mowing them.