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Crew gets its kick from Parks

Parks is a force on the field, but it's another characteristic that has the Crew days away from being the first Rogue Valley Soccer Club boys team to represent Oregon at the Western Regional Championships in Albuquerque, N.M., on June 25-30.

Four RVSC girls teams have advanced as far.

Quite simply, the determined midfielder was born on July 1, 1982, making him ineligible for U-18 status since players cannot turn 19 prior to a July 31, 2001 cutoff date.

The rest of the Crew is 18 or under, but head coach Sally Staver says the squad chose the upper division to ensure that Parks could remain a part of the team.

For that, Parks says, he is grateful.

"You couldn't ask for much more," he says. "This is the last soccer team I'll probably play on, so it's pretty special that they decided to play with me at State Cup."

The Crew posted a 6-2-2 record during the regular season at U-19, then decided to remain at that level for the State Cup tournament, also known as the Snickers Cup.

That decision paid off as the Crew posted a 4-1 record in the tourney, earning the state championship with a 3-2 win over Football Club Portland when Adam Wendt scored inside the final seven minutes.

Alex Casey and Tell Nelson also had goals for the Crew in the championship game.

The Crew, comprised of all-star players from Medford and Klamath Falls, has since added a Rogue Valley Cup title to its resume, posting a 5-0 record in the local tourney to improve to 15-3-2 on the season.

But with very little tournament experience, Staver says her team is in for quite an awakening once play begins Monday.

"When they go to this tournament, they're going to have their minds blown and eyes opened at the skill level and quantity of players and teams that are out there," she says.

Twelve teams make up the U-19 division at regionals, with teams from Hawaii, Idaho and Montana joining the Crew in its four-team division.

Hawaii will be the Crew's first foe on Monday at 10 a.m. They also play Tuesday at 4 p.m. and Wednesday at 10 a.m.

"We have an excellent bracket to be able to advance in," says Staver, "but these are also going to be tough teams."

Staver says leading challengers for the title will be teams from California and Colorado.

"Those are teams that devote their lives to this sport," she says.

The Crew plans to travel with 16 players, two shy of the maximum allowed, and Casey may not be able to play. He suffered a dislocated kneecap last weekend.

Casey's potential loss could be devastating since he is the fastest player on the team and, Staver says, he has "one of the keenest eyes to the goal on our team."

Brian Staver, 18, will rejoin the Crew from a hamstring injury to help fill the potential void at forward. He's the son of the coach and brother to Crew player Peter Staver.

The lineup change should have little affect on the Crew's chemistry.

"Most of us have played together since we were 12, so we know how to play together pretty well," says goalkeeper Kyle Hadley.

Hadley is another of the walking wounded Crew players, having recently suffered a hamstring injury. Forward Scott Jolly dislocated his shoulder in the championship game of the Rogue Valley Cup but is slated to play next week.

Sally Staver says despite the team's low numbers and rash of injuries, she is confident.

"We have kids that can go the whole game," she says, "and our bench is also deep. We have a lot of talent sitting there."

RVSC U-19 Crew RosterKyle Hadley, Adam Wendt, Corey Parks, Alex Casey, Patrick Lower, Peter Staver, Craig Tomlins, Babak Asgharian, Tyler Casey, Josh Neville, Tell Nelson, Scott Jolly, Cody George, Andrew Huycke, Ben Clark and Brian Staver.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail