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Kylee Dillon stood at a crossroads after receiving difficult news last year.

After participating in soccer tryouts for the Rogue Valley Timbers U19 97G Red club team, the local teenager received a phone call from RVT director of coaching Kevin Primerano.

Primerano offered Dillon a spot as a practice player with Red, which was coached by Jenni Rosenberg at the time.

It was a tough pill to swallow for the center forward, who had played important roles with the same club the previous two seasons as a freshman and sophomore. She had visions of starting, not serving as a reserve player.

"It crushed my spirits at first," says Dillon, who is now a senior at Cascade Christian after transferring from Grants Pass High earlier this year. "I had to change my mindset. I went into (tryouts) thinking I had it in the bag. Afterward I realized I have to work harder."

After collecting her thoughts, Dillon accepted the role. She quickly proved her worth, earning a starting spot early in the club year and finishing as the team's leading scorer.

"She's a never-give-up story and a great example on how to meet adversity," Primerano says. "She didn't complain or moan. She tried to prove us wrong, and she did."

In the end, the situation worked out for everyone.

Dillon is now a captain with Primerano's 99G Red club (Primerano coached a younger team last year) as the team enters this weekend's Rogue Memorial Challenge with loads of motivation. She's signed to play for NCAA Division II Central Washington University.

Dillon's story line is one of many at the local tournament, hosted by the Rogue Valley Timbers club. It will showcase 157 teams ranging from the U10 to U19 levels and runs from Saturday to Monday.

About 40 teams are from the Rogue Valley, with the rest traveling from Nevada, California and Washington, says Primerano, who is also the tournament director.

Teams are guaranteed four matches, with medals given for first through fourth places.

U.S. Cellular Community Park, North Medford High, South Medford High and Fichtner-Mainwaring Park will all host matches, with 18 total fields in play.

The four-team boys U19 Cascade division begins Saturday with round-robin preliminary play at noon. The Cascade Rush Steelheaders face North State Soccer United 98 at U.S. Cellular Community Park Field 10 and RVT 98B Adrenaline takes on the Southern Oregon Soccer Academy Notorious at South Medford High.

The U19 level also has a Siskiyou division featuring four other teams.

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

RVT 97B Adrenaline downed Mad River Elite BU19 of Arcata, California, 1-0, in the U19 boys title game last year. Adrenaline didn't allow a goal the whole weekend en route to capturing its fourth straight title in the tournament.

In the championship, Ian Bream converted a penalty kick about five minutes into the second half for Adrenaline.

Girls U19 Cascade play starts at 1:20 p.m. Saturday, when Dillon and 99G Red face Great Basin Nevada Pride at U.S. Cellular Field 10 and AC Samoa plays FC Salmon Creek Nemesis 98 White at Field 14.

The Red squad (10-3-1) includes seniors Brynne Anderson, Elizabeth Beattie, Meghan Cowan, Kaitlyn Weber and McKenna Wizner.

"This team is feeling a little empty," Primerano says. "We got upset in the semifinals of the State Cup and there is a pit in the bottom of all of our stomachs. We're looking at this tournament as a our chance at redemption to end our season on a strong note."

Dillon says she went to work after last season's club tryouts in October, practicing on her own and working alongside another local coach, Dave Potter, to improve.

"I put my head down and focused on what I could do," says Dillon, whose family decided Cascade Christian was a better fit.

Dillon was a second-team Southwest Conference selection for the Cavers last fall.

By the time practice began last December, Dillon was already catching the eye of Rosenberg, who is also the head coach at Southern Oregon University. Dillon's performance off the bench at a showcase in Portland in January was the start of a quickly expanding role.

"She came into our team and was probably one of the hardest working athletes," says Rosenberg, who is coaching a U17 boys team at the Rogue Memorial Challenge this year. "She just digs in and works hard. Every practice was an opportunity for her."

It was a tough situation that Dillon handled well, Primerano says.

"At tryouts she didn't score high enough to be placed on the team," he says, "but we thought highly enough of her as a person and knew she was close. We offered her a practice position and after thinking it over for a day or so she accepted ... She was very mature. She asked a couple questions and asked where she fell short. She put her mind to working on those pieces. It became abundantly clear after watching her last year and this year that she has an insatiable desire to prove people wrong."

Along with the Cascade grouping, the U19 girls level also features a four-team Siskiyou division and four-team Sierra division.

Last year, AC Samoa Intensity of Eureka, California, beat RVT 97G Red, 2-1, in the U19 girls title match.

Tori Dykstra scored a late goal to make things interesting for Red. The California club's triumph snapped the RVT squad's run of titles at three.

The girls U19 Cascade championship match this year is at 11 a.m. Monday at U.S. Cellular Field 10.

The Goalie Wars contest is at 8 p.m. Saturday at North Medford High. During intermission, a U14 boy and girl will receive the Shelley Green Award, which goes to players who demonstrate a love for the game.

Looking back, Dillon says she's glad she had to work for her opportunity.

"At the time it sucked," she says. "But, honestly, now I am super, super thankful for that situation because now it has helped me prepare for college soccer. It's a similar situation. I know I can push through."

— Reach reporter Dan Jones at djones@mailtribune.com.

Kylee Dillon and her Rogue Valley Timbers 99G Red team are seeking a strong finish to the season in the Rogue Memorial Challenge this weekend. [LARRY STAUTH JR./FOR THE MAIL TRIBUNE]