Rogue Memorial Challenge on the rise in Year 2
The second annual Rogue Memorial Challenge, one of the biggest soccer tournaments in the region, begins Saturday and wraps up Monday.
Out of the 150 teams that registered, 66 are from the Rogue Valley. California and Nevada are also represented.
Fifteen more squads are participating this spring, tournament director Kevin Primerano said.
"I think last year we ran a very smooth tournament and we got a lot of positive feedback from local and out-of-town teams," he said. "A few of those who brought one last time brought three or four teams. We saw more Nevada teams this year."
The tournament replaced the long-standing Rogue Valley Cup last season. It is now run by the Rogue Valley Timbers soccer club.
Seventeen fields at U.S. Cellular Community Park, South Medford High, North Medford High and Fichtner-Mainwaring Park will be used.
Boys and girls will compete in eight divisions from U10 to U19. Action kicks off with a round-robin preliminary schedule and ends with playoffs.
The U19 boys title match is set for 9:30 a.m. Monday at U.S. Cellular Park Field 10. The U19 girls contest will be at 11 a.m. on Field 14 of the same venue.
The collection of six U19 boys squads includes four from the Rogue Valley: RVT Manchester United and Los Pumas of Medford, Chillers FC and Mutiny of Ashland.
Five of the eight U19 girls teams are local: the defending champion RVT 95G Red, RVT White and Venom of Medford, Southern Oregon Soccer Academy United of Phoenix and Tsunami of Grants Pass.
The U19 94G Red girls squad beat Humboldt Youth Soccer Humboldt United, 1-0, in the championship match last year. The match went to a penalty kick shootout, with goalkeeper Brittney Rice recording the shutout and McKenna Barnum knocking in the victory clinching PK goal.
On the boys side, the U19 Corning (Calif.) Youth Soccer League Diablos won a second straight title at the tournament with a 2-1 victory over the RVT 94B.
The tournament has been credited with generating millions for the local economy.
Other activities this weekend include Goalie Wars, where goalies put their skills to the test. It begins at 8 p.m. Saturday at North Medford High. Prior to the challenge, the Shelley Green award will be given to a local U14 boy and girl. Green was a passionate soccer player who died of cancer in 1999 at age 19.
The bright blue collection bins at U.S. Cellular Community Park and Fichtner-Mainwaring Park near Jefferson Elementary School are for donations of soccer equipment to children in Nicaragua.
Cascade Christian junior Jillian Emard is encouraging donations of new or gently used equipment, such as soccer balls, cleats, shin guards and jerseys.
The Challengers have a sister school in Nicaragua and Emard's family hosted a foreign exchange student from there.
The country is one of the poorest in the world and its citizens love soccer, Emard says.
"I decided I wanted to get involved," she says.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit facebook.com/playitforwardforNicaraguankids.
For more information on the tournament, visit roguememorialchallenge.com. Immediate scores, standings and schedules can be found there.
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email email@example.com. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt