End of the year tournaments can be difficult, but are even harder when a team is two players short.
For the Craig under-18 boys soccer team (U-18), being two players short meant a second-place finish Saturday and Sunday at the Grand Junction Invitational, held at Canyon View Park.
Craig's players rolled over the Cortez team and the Surface Creek Storm team on Friday, leaving the Storm in such disarray they ended up pulling their goalie in favor of adding an offensive player.
Though the U-18 boys put on a valiant, short-handed display, the team they met in the finals was ready for them.
"The boys ended up facing the Grand Junction Renegades in the finals, and they knew we were shorthanded," said Bill Sawyer, U-10 coach and league technical director. "So all Grand Junction had to do was spread the field and kept the ball away from us."
Though the Renegades went into the game having a plan of attack, it did not prevent them from nearly getting beat.
Craig kept the game close, and though they had plenty of chances to tie the game, they were unable to capitalize on their opportunities. the Renegades closed out the game with a 3-2 win.
The U-18 boys squad was one of two teams from Craig to participate in the advanced level of the tournament. The rest of the teams competed in the developmental section.
The other advanced squad competing was the U-14 girls team, who went 2-2 in the tournament and took fourth place. The girls also had an impressive regular season they were undefeated on the Western Slope.
Four Craig teams competed in the developmental section of the tournament: The U-10 boys, U-12 boys and girls teams and the U-14 boys.
Only one developmental squad shared its older counterpart's success in the tournament.
The U-12 boys went 2-1 in the tournament, while the rest of the developmental squads won one game or fewer.
"It didn't matter what the score was, because the developmental teams were really sticking with the games and didn't give up," Sawyer said.
The end of Sunday's tournament marked the end of another year of the youth soccer program in Craig.
But, some discoveries about the players were made before the season was over.
"We've got some really talented, young athletes coming up though youth soccer, and how many of them performed this weekend proves this," Sawyer said. "If these kids stick together and keep playing, they have a pretty, good chance of having a lot of success when they reach the high school ranks."