Larry Cruikshank / Special to the Home News
Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009 | 1:50 p.m.
The Silver State Invitational youth soccer tournament celebrated its 35th anniversary Feb. 21 and 22 at the Bettye Wilson Soccer Complex, with more than 50 club teams participating.
Of those teams, which competed in the 15 through 19 age brackets, six from the Las Vegas Valley won titles.
The Las Vegas Premier 92 won one of the most exciting finals of the tournament, defeating the Nevada Devils 1-0 in the 17 and under championships.
Premier midfielder Shane Thompson scored the winning goal from 18 yards out in the second half of overtime.
"It was probably one of the best youth soccer games I have been a part of," Premier coach Jason DiOrio said.
The game was a rivalrous contest, as the Devils defeated the same Premier team in last year's Nevada State Cup.
The Premier won the rematch Feb. 22 despite missing two starters to injury and another—Nico Johnson—who was training with the United States Olympic Development team.
"This was a big win for our boys," DiOrio said. "We kind of limped into the finals. They won it with pure heart."
The other winning Las Vegas clubs included Players Soccer Club, which won 15 and under girls, Nuesport FC 93, which won 16 and under boys, Downtown LVSC 93, which won 16 and under girls, FC Las Vegas 93 Mundial, which won 17 and under girls, and Real Las Vegas FC 91, which won 19 and under boys.
Many of the girls teams had to piece together players who were not competing in the Clark County School District soccer playoffs, which runs Feb. 24 to March 5.
The FC Las Vegas 93 Mundial, which was comprised of girls from the club's 15, 16 and 17 and under teams, edged out a 1-0 win against the Utah Force in the 17 and under girls finals.
Minerva Massis, who led the team with three goals in the tournament, scored the game winner, while goalkeeper Emily Murzinski recorded her third shutout of the tournament.
"It's a credit to the girls and the club that they combined and played so well together," coach Vinny Magliulo said. "These girls have worked hard all winter and are preparing for the upcoming spring college showcases."
The Nevada Youth Soccer Association hosted the tournament, which tournament director Bart Farley said is the oldest in Nevada.
Coupled with the age 11 through 14 tournament, which was held Jan. 24 and 25, close to 170 teams from across the western United States competed.
Even with so many teams, there was a significant drop in turnout due to competing tournaments and the local high school season. Last year more than 200 teams competed.
"It used to be the largest youth tournament in the state," Farley said. "Historically, the high school girls playoffs are held before our tournament. That dramatically affected the girls brackets."
Sean Ammerman can be reached at 990-2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org.