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Local youth teams kick off spring soccer season in St. George

Mar 06, 2023 09:47AM ● By Liisa London Mecham

Four Morgan players helped their team score second place in their division. Photo courtesy of Brittney Lee

Hundreds of cars raced south on I-15 from northern Utah over Presidents’ Day Weekend carrying talented soccer players who were ready to kick off the spring soccer season with outdoor tournaments in St. George and other surrounding cities. Many Morgan families joined the annual migration south to coach and cheer on their budding soccer stars in the tournaments that signal the opening of spring soccer.

One of the longest running spring tournaments in St. George is the Ice Breaker soccer tournament. In its 39th year, with the first games played in 1984, the tournament has hosted “tens of thousands” of players over the years according to its website. This year the tournament included 240 teams from six states. Teams usually participate from Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah. 

Cody Birt, coach of the U14-Summit FC (known as Morgan Fire until this year), has been taking competition teams to the Ice Breaker for several years. Birt and assistant coach Cody Howe, both long-time Morgan residents, played soccer at Morgan High in the 1900s. They have been coaching soccer for over 12 years, and their current team for seven. “The Ice Breaker is a nice warm up to get back into the swing of playing soccer outside again on a big field.”

Like many competition soccer teams, Birt’s team plays Futsal, or indoor soccer, during the winter months to keep their skills up while the snow covers the fields. The indoor season prepared the Summit FC boys well because they came out and won all four of their games at the tournament and emerged with gold medals in their division. Along their path to the gold, Summit FC only allowed one goal the entire tournament.

Birt was especially proud of his team and the way they’ve come together and are “making the team mesh” after some players left the team and others joined. Two players were returning to the pitch at the Ice Breaker for the first time since injuries sidelined them the past few years. One player broke his hip last fall and came back for the tournament, and another returned after a two-year absence due to a chronic illness. “It was great to see everyone out on the field again,” Birt said.

“I love coaching and the boys,” he said. “It’s addicting to work with these kids and see their progress as they become better. It’s not about wins and losses for me; it’s about developing athletes and seeing their improvements and confidence grow.”

The Vipers, a U-11 girls team, who featured four Morgan players–Bostynn Lee, Joslyn Jensen, Elle Johnson and Reese Randall–also had a successful run at the Ice Breaker Tournament. These four girls have been playing together since second grade and moved to the Vipers last year. They’ve had a successful year, advancing to the championship game their past four tournaments and securing first place last summer in Park City.

At the Ice Breaker, they placed second in their division. Bostynn’s mom, Brittney Lee said, “They went undefeated heading into the championship game with only one goal scored against them in three games. They just barely lost in the championship.”

The girls, who are coached by head coach Brock Loomis and assistants Natalie Bryce and Jeff Lee, love playing together. Randall said, “My favorite part of the team is how good of friends we are and how well we get along together.”

Johnson, aka “Elvis,” enjoyed the warm weather and hanging out doing things with her team. She said, “The teams we played against were different teams that we had played before, which was great.”

Jensen, who is nicknamed J-Money, gave a very honest assessment of the trip south, “I like to travel to hot places in the winter and miss school.” She also said, “I liked the Ice Breaker Tournament because it pushed us to play hard since we had to play premier teams.”

Bostynn summed it up, “We all have so much fun, we work together and our coaches are awesome. My favorite position is middle defense. I love blasting the ball up the field to my teammates.”

Morgan’s U-11 Boys’ Summit FC team enjoyed the perfect weather while their team went 2-2 as reported by Tyler Archibald. Archibald’s older son Jonas, an MHS freshman, got an extra perk out of the Ice Breaker Tournament. He was able to make some money as a referee while watching his younger brother play. 

Congrats to all of the other Morgan players and fans who participated in the Ice Breaker Tournament.

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