Craig Storm thunders to league title |

Craig Storm thunders to league title

Elwood Shelton

When Jessica Uecker was 12-years-old, she tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), a disabling injury for an athlete of any age.

Making the injury even more difficult for Uecker was the fact that she tore her ACL doing what she loves best soccer.

After surgery last year to repair the torn ACL, Uecker has been undergoing intensive therapy to repair the injury, and was even able to play basketball for the middle school this last winter.

The hard work paid off this summer, though, when she was able to be part of the Craig Storm’s under-14 girls soccer team, and their title run in the Western Slope State League.

“It felt good to be part of a team that achieved so much,” Uecker said. “It made all the work that I put into coming back worth it.”

The championship title is the first in the history of the Craig Storm, and came in the wake of an undefeated season.

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The Storm went 6-0-2 this season, and competed in the advanced division of the Western Slope youth soccer league.

Youth soccer doesn’t have a championship tournament to decide its champion, instead it crowns its champion through a point system. The point system rewards three points for every win, two points for every tie and 0 points for a loss.

The Storm won the league title by accruing 20 points, with the next closest team, New Castle, only compiling 14 points.

The Storm was also pitted against some of the major soccer powerhouses on the Western Slope , facing teams such as Vail, Grand Junction, Aspen and Carbondale.

“One of the real strengths of the team is that these girls have been playing soccer with each other for a long time, and most have moved through the ranks of youth soccer together,” Storm coach Henry Stoffel said. “Beside being familiar with each other, the girls are extremely hard workers.”

Stoffel said that a number of the girls have shown their dedication to the sport through attending camps, as well as working out with players from Steamboat Springs and Moffat County High Schools.

The Storm focused on a solid defense, allowing only seven goals all year, but the back of the net was no stranger to the offense, who scored 22 goals this year.

“Our defense was so solid that we were able to put a lot more offensive pressure on teams,” Stoffel said.

The coach sees good things in the future for the Storm, since they will only lose one girl to high school.

“I feel that the girls should be as competitive as they were this year, and they have a fairly good chance to repeat this year’s title,” he said. “If these girls stay on track, by the time they get to high school they’ll be extremely competitive and I’d expect them to add a new dimension to the team.”

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