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Stars out at Challenge

Some of the area’s top soccer talent returns to Medford this weekend for the fourth annual Rogue Memorial Challenge.

The event, one of the region’s largest tournaments, will feature 167 teams ranging from the U10 to U19 levels. The Rogue Valley Timbers club runs the show, which goes Saturday to Monday.

Twenty-six of the squads are from the Rogue Valley, with the rest coming from around the state, California, Washington and Nevada. Clubs are guaranteed four matches, with medals awarded for first through fourth places.

“We’re feeling really good about the tournament,” said tournament director Kevin Primerano, who is director of coaching of the Rogue Valley Timbers. “We’ve had considerable growth over the last three years, (and) 167 pretty much maxes out the capacity of the tournament.”

U.S. Cellular Community Park, North Medford High, South Medford High, Fichtner-Mainwaring Park, Spiegelberg Stadium and Jefferson Elementary will all be used .

The five-team boys U19 division begins Saturday with round-robin preliminary play at 8 a.m. when Rogue Valley Timbers 97B Adrenaline faces Table Rock Soccer Club Avalanche at U.S. Cellular Park Field 10.

The other teams in the division are Ballistic United Soccer Club Lightning of California, Humboldt United and California’s Mad River Elite BU19.

The U19 boys title game is at 12:30 p.m. Monday at U.S. Cellular Park Field 10.

Girls eight-team U19 action begins Saturday at 2:40 p.m. when Rogue Valley Timbers 96G Red plays Southern Oregon Soccer Association Venom at U.S. Cellular Park Field 11.

The other teams in the division, which is broken up into two four-squad brackets, are BUSC Basin, Mad River Humboldt Myst GU19, AC Samoa Intensity of California, Grants Pass Youth Soccer Club Tsunami, RVT Deja Vu U19G and Total Futbol Academy Willamette Southside.

The girls championship match is at 9:30 a.m. Monday at U.S. Cellular Field 10.

In the boys U17-19 championship last spring, Adrenaline flexed its muscles with a 3-0 win over Rush Steelheaders Cascade Rush FC of Bend. The triumph capped a dominant weekend for 97B Adrenaline coach Scott Owings’ club.

Adrenaline allowed one goal en route to finishing 4-0-1 at the tournament.

North Bend’s Ian Bream had two goals, including the go-ahead score, for the RVT club. He and the others made up a core that has won U17-U19, U17 and U15 crowns in the last three Rogue Memorial Challenges.

About 85 percent of last year’s squad is back, Owings said, including his son, Southwest Conference player of the year Kyle Owings. The South Medford senior striker/midfielder had a smashing prep career and should be a major threat this weekend.

Bream also returns, along with South Medford center back Josue Reyes, North Bend striker Coy Woods and Henley’s Jared Delaney.

Henley’s Darrin deGroot will serve as goalkeeper as Ashland’s Brady Cooper, another Adrenaline keeper, landed a spot on the Timbers Academy and will not be available.

“We play highly skilled ball,” said coach Owings, whose team fell in the Oregon State Cup semifinals earlier this spring. “We’re more of a possession-style team but we like to go forward. We definitely go forward.”

Last year in the girls U19 final, 96G Red’s Toreah Foy booted in the deciding goal in a penalty kick shootout against AC Samoa Intensity of Arcata, Calif., to help send her squad to its third consecutive title and wrap up a 4-1 record in the tourney. Primerano, who coached the club, is guiding a U15 squad this spring. Southern Oregon University head women’s soccer coach Jenni Rosenberg coaches the 96G Red now.

RVT 96G Red shares a bracket with Basin, Myst and Venom. Standouts on the Red squad include St. Mary’s center back/midfielder MaryBeth Barnum, North Medford midfielder Haylie Durant, center back Meghan Cowan and outside back Michala Denn and Ashland forward Calysta Susu-Mago.

Grants Pass’ Kylee Dillon is the team’s top goal scorer, Rosenberg said, and the Cavers’ Gretchen Berkey is a relentless goalkeeper.

“We have been working really hard the last six months and this is kinda like the end of our season,” said Rosenberg, whose team lost in the Oregon State Cup semifinals. “We’ve learned a lot and built into a completely different team than when we started. I have high hopes for these ladies.”

Former North Medford player Sydney Thomas (now at Western Oregon) and South Medford standout Erin Riley (now at Lane Community College) play for Deja Vu, a club loaded with college athletes.

Barnum has committed to Portland State University, Susu-Mago to Lane Community College, Durant to SOU and Bream to Montana State Billings.

Several other players competing this weekend have signed with colleges, including Owings (Sonoma State) and Reyes (SOU); St. Mary’s Alex Robertson (George Fox University); Henley’s Aimee Bruner (Oregon Tech) and Delaney (SOU); and North Bend’s Emma Powley (College of Idaho) and Woods (Warner Pacific University).

The traditional Goalie Wars contest is from 8-10 p.m. Saturday at North Medford High.

For more info, visit roguememorialchallenge.com.

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email djones@mailtribune.com. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt

Kyle Owings, of the Rogue Valley Timbers' 97B Adrenaline, dribbles the ball upfield while holding off a CRFC Rush Steelheaders defender during the 2015 U19 boys championship game in the Rogue Memorial Challenge at U.S. Cellular Community Park. This year's tournament is Saturday through Monday. MT FILE PHOTO