After a beautiful day for soccer on Saturday, rain could not stop the Kansas Cup All-Girls tournament from crowning its champions in each division on Sunday.
"It is exciting to bring competitive soccer to Lawrence," said Keith Meyers, tournament director. "Local teams have the opportunity to see competition at a high level and play against teams that they don't normally compete against."
The Kansas Cup, which took place over the weekend at Youth Sports Inc. fields, welcomed 71 teams and more than 1,100 people to Lawrence for the three-day tournament. Teams arrived from as far north as Omaha, as east as Columbia, Mo., as south as Bartlesville, Okla., and as west as Hutchinson. The tournament brackets were divided by age group and ranged from ages 10 to 18/19.
The tournament, now in its fourth year, saw a couple more teams and a new playing field added to accommodate the crowd. Meyers said they had to turn away a few of the older girls teams because there were not enough fields to accommodate the amount of teams that wanted to enter the tournament.
Meyers said the city of Lawrence and the county were very cooperative in helping arrange the fields and allow the use of Broken Arrow as a third site in addition to Clinton Lake Sports Complex and YSI.
"It is nice to keep the tournament here at home, because there is an economic benefit to Lawrence," Meyers said. "A lot of businesses advertised in our program and supported being a part of the tournament."
On Sunday morning, showers delayed the games by about an hour, and with the approval of the state registrar, each half of the games was shortened to 20 minutes instead of 30 minutes for Sunday's pool play.
With the shortened halves the tournament was able to get back on schedule and hold the semifinals and finals at their scheduled times Sunday afternoon and early evening.
Family Weekend at Kansas University made it difficult for visiting teams to find hotels, but the location of YSI on Kansas Highway 10 helped to make it easy for teams to stay in Olathe, Ottawa and Topeka.
"Unfortunately we can't exactly plan around the football schedule at the university, but the great location of the facilities makes coming from outside of the area easier," Meyers said. "The facilities at Youth Sports Inc. are great for a tournament of this size."
Meyers said the fields were in good condition for the tournament despite the recent rain. But he mentioned it would be nice if more of the fields could have an irrigation system.
"The addition of Broken Arrow as a site was very meaningful to the success of the tournament," Meyers said.
Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday morning the teams competed in pool play. Six points were awarded for a win, three points for a tie, one point for a shutout and zero points for a loss. Point totals based on the results of those games determined who advanced to the semifinals and finals.
The Kansas Cup draws top-level competition, which tests the ability of the local premier teams. The local teams fared well in competition, with KSA having two teams in the finals and the 10U Kaw Valley Force playing in the finals of their division as well.
"The tournament provides a nice book-end with the boys tournament held in Lawrence in the spring," Meyers said. "There is a captive soccer audience in Lawrence, and they embrace bringing competitive soccer into town."
Meyers couldn't say enough about all of the volunteers who helped make the tournament a success.
"It takes a lot of people to run the tournament," Meyers said. "We had a lot of parents, board members and older players out there supervising the fields, helping with referees and checking in teams."
On Sunday at the end of the event, Meyers said the tournament ran smoothly.
"Considering the weather on Sunday morning, the tournament ran as smooth as it could avoiding any huge inconveniences," Meyers said. "Comments have been real positive and we are looking forward to doing it all again next year."