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Folsom soccer teams eager to play for the cup

By: Matt Long Telegraph Sports Editor
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Folsom soccer fans — get ready for the biggest game of the year. The third annual Crosstown Cup, pitting Folsom High against Vista del Lago, will be played Saturday at Prairie City Stadium – the junior varsity game at 6 p.m. with the varsity game following at 8 p.m. It is a non-league match-up for the teams, but the game is far more significant than that. Despite being both programs’ main fundraiser, this game will be played in front of the biggest crowd either team will see all season and the winner gets the Crosstown Cup, and perhaps more importantly, bragging rights for another year. When asked about the game, Vista del Lago senior Michael Le Page and junior Logan Dearborn answered simultaneously, “it’s the biggest game of the year.” “Some kids play on the team just for this game,” Dearborn continued. “This game makes the season (if you win it) and is a big deal.” The Folsom High players feel the same way. “It’s a very important game for financial reasons, as it’s a fundraiser for both teams, but it’s also a game we look forward to all year,” Folsom senior Brandon Riel said. “It’s our time to shine since football gets all the recognition, it’s our turn.” Several things make this game a hit. Not only is it the two Folsom high school teams battling for supremacy, but it’s a game that brings the community together. Almost every player on one squad knows every player on the other squad. They’ve grown up together playing with or against one another and in many cases, still do. “About half of my team with the American River Futbol Club plays for Vista,” Folsom junior Logan Guler said. “It’s the biggest game of the season because our friends play for Vista and the game is for bragging rights. Everyone wants to win this game.” Riel, who plays competitive with the Folsom Fury, rattled off several names of teammates currently on Vista’s squad. “Alex Ford, Jake Michaels, Danny Jacobs, Matt Raymond, Jarrett Giordano,” Riel said. Dearborn added, “I’ll take a win in that game over any other game.” The players like playing against their friends, but they also like the big crowd. Last year a crowd of about 700 watched the game. “It’s definitely the biggest crowd of the year,” Le Page said. “Everyone is either wearing a Vista shirt or a Folsom shirt. There’s a lot of spirit. It’s a competitive, physical game and one you don’t want to lose.” Riel added, “I remember last year’s game was definitely exciting because so many people were there.” Guler said the big crowd gets him more into the game. The players aren’t the only ones who enjoy the game. Vista coach Joe Esfandiary and Folsom coach Ray Robitaille also realize the importance of it. “It’s a community affair and it’s always fun,” Esfandiary said. “The intention is to win the game, though. We’re not going to sit back.” Robitaille not only enjoys the competitiveness of the game, but also the aspect of bringing the community together to support the sport. “The continued popularity and success of the event gives credence to its original purpose: that a whole community can come together in celebration of youth sports and friendly rivalry without the negative trappings that can sometimes obfuscate the tremendous benefits of youth sports in general,” Robitaille said. As much fun as the kids get from playing in the game, the parents in the stands enjoy watching their kids and their kids’ friends play too. “The tournament is a great opportunity for athletes from both schools to showcase their talents, playing the game they love in front of a huge crowd under the lights,” said Jen Van Tuyle, Crosstown co-chair along with Janna Le Page of Vista del Lago. “Involving the younger players from the Folsom Soccer Club gives them something to aspire to. As the primary fundraiser for both schools’ soccer programs, it’s a critical part in keeping team fees affordable in these tough budgetary times for high school sports. It’s a win for everyone and definitely a season highlight.” Le Page also enjoys the event. “The Crosstown Cup brings our whole community together to enjoy a really fun night of soccer under the stadium lights,” Le Page said. “It exposes both the younger club players and their parents to a higher level of soccer and it provides the high school athletes with a memorable game that they can take away with them when they graduate. The players will always have the bragging rights to the cup, despite what their league stats turn out to be.” The younger soccer players in the community also get a piece of the action on this night as well. Youth teams from the Folsom Soccer Club will scrimmage each other during halftime of the games. With both teams wanting to win equally as bad, it should make for an entertaining game. “We just have to work hard all game,” said Dearborn, while LePage added, “we have to stay focused and play as a team.” Riel said, “We need to have good transition from the back up to our forwards and get some offense.” Crosstown Cup What: Soccer games between Folsom’s varsity and JV teams and Vista’s varsity and JV teams. When: Saturday, JV at 6 p.m., Varsity at 8 p.m. Where: Prairie City Stadium History: 2011- Varsity, Vista 1, Folsom 0; JV - Folsom 2-2 (4-2 PKs). 2010 - Varsity - Vista 4, Folsom 1. JV - Vista 4, Folsom 0