Fewer players means more action

Published 8:02 pm Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Currituck United take on the Suffolk Freedom in a U-10 game during the Kick It 3v3 Soccer Tournament taking place on Saturday and Sunday at the SYAA Fields. The special version of soccer features only three players on each team, shorter games, no goalie and special rules, which make for a faster-paced game with more scoring.

By Titus Mohler
Correspondent

For the first time ever, the Suffolk Youth Athletic Association (SYAA) is hosting a three-on-three soccer tournament this weekend at the SYAA fields on Kings Fork Road.

The event is being put on by a Denver-based company called Kick It 3v3 Soccer with the cooperation of SYAA and it concludes today, running from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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This version of soccer has a distinct appeal that draws in players and onlookers.

“It’s very fun, it’s fast-paced, it’s more of a give-and-go game,” SYAA Soccer Commissioner Stacy Pauley said. “The kids have a lot of fun with it. They’re short games. They’re two 12-minute halves or whoever scores 12 (goals) first.”

The fields are significantly smaller, as are the goals. There are no goalkeepers, and players are not allowed to touch the ball if it is in the small penalty box in front of the goal. This means that defense is more of a challenge and goal-scoring is more frequent.

“An average score is generally 8-6, 9-6,” Kick It 3v3 Event Director Tim Cochran said. “So, it’s promoting goal-scoring. I mean, the parents love it. Bobby and Betsy are all scoring goals and that’s what they like, the more action there is.”

The result of this style of tournament is more than just fun, though.

“This game promotes the higher level. It’s all about building the players’ skills,” Cochran said. “Decision-making, speed of play, and 1v1. They develop confidence to take players on in a 1v1 (situation).”

Twenty-nine teams are involved in the tournament this weekend. Twelve of them are from Suffolk.

“We have Currituck teams from North Carolina, a team from Maryland, and a team from South Carolina,” Pauley said.

Participating teams range in age from U-6 to U-18, and each squad may not have more than six players on their rosters. Some teams even make do with less.

“Our oldest team, our U-18 team, that my husband and I coach, the Suffolk Lightning, they right now only have four players, but they won their last game 12-0,” Pauley said early in the event.

A few teams were co-ed, but most competition was organized according to boys and girls brackets. However, one intrepid U-15 girls team, the FC Milan Shooting Stars, elected to play in the boys bracket in search of a greater challenge.

“They were going to be in the girls bracket and then they asked to play up,” Pauley said. “And they’ve done really, really well.”

They had a record of 2-1 for Saturday and will continue on today.

Also playing were the U-14 Suffolk Hurricanes that come to this tournament with previous experience. The same squad went to the Kick It 3v3 World Championships last year as a U-13 team and placed ninth out of 21 teams.

The team, coached by Pauley and her husband Chris, is using this tournament and a few others like it to tune up for a regional 3v3 tourney in Charlotte, N.C. on Aug. 4-5. If they place among the top teams there, they will earn a second berth to the World Championships at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla.

Organizers hope to make this event a regular occurrence in Suffolk.

“We’re planning, hopefully, to have this as an annual event, from now on,” Pauley said.