Let the new tradition begin.
One of the region's biggest soccer tournaments begins Saturday and wraps up on Monday — only now, it has a new name and new leadership.
The inaugural Rogue Memorial Challenge has replaced the long-standing Rogue Valley Cup. The Rogue Valley Timbers soccer club (formerly known as the Rogue Valley Soccer Club) will run it.
The Timbers have twice played host to the Oregon Youth Soccer Presidents Cup semifinals and finals and have also hosted the Region IV Presidents Cup regional finals.
The 137-team tournament includes 100 Oregon squads, 27 teams from California, nine from Nevada and one from Washington. Seventeen fields at U.S. Cellular Community Park, South Medford High, North Medford High and Fichtner-Mainwaring Park will be used.
Boys will play in 10 divisions from U10 to U19, while girls will compete in nine divisions from U10 to U19. Action begins with a round-robin preliminary schedule and ends with playoffs that (in some cases) feature multiple championships.
"We tried to figure out how to bracket them in the best way to make as many meaningful games as possible," says Timbers director of coaching and tournament director Kevin Primerano.
The U19 boys title match is set for 11 a.m. Monday at U.S. Cellular Community Park. The U19 girls game will be at 9:30 a.m. at the same venue.
Last year, the U19 Diablos boys soccer team from Corning, Calif., beat the Medford United Football Club Pumas, 3-1, in the championship. In the U19 girls championship, the undefeated Southern Oregon Scrubs topped the previously unbeaten Rogue Valley Soccer Club Rogue Wave 3-2 after battling out a 12-shot penalty shootout.
Riley Smith, the former Ashland standout who now plays at the University of Oregon, netted a goal to even the contest at 2 with about two minutes left in double overtime. Rogue Wave's Carly Smith scored on a cross from Makayla Hickman, giving the RVSC squad a 2-1 lead in the first overtime period.
The Rogue Valley Cup, which had taken place in Medford over Memorial Day weekend for the past 19 years, has been credited with generating millions for the local economy.
A contest where goalkeepers compete against one another is set for Saturday night. Prior to the challenge, the Shelley Green award will be given to a local U14 boy and girl. Green, who was a passionate soccer player, died of cancer in 1999. She was 19.
Timbers coaches at the U14 level nominated athletes and the awards were voted on by a nine-person committee.
For more information on the tournament, visit roguememorialchallenge.com. Immediate scores, standings and schedules can be found there.
Timbers competitive tryouts will take place on June 1 and June 2 for the U12-14 Premier, U12-U13 Classic and U11 Academy levels at U.S. Cellular Community Park. For more info, visit rvsoccer.com.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email email@example.com