Goldsmith tournament a warm-up for fall season

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BENNINGTON — Five teams from the local high schools, including Mount Anthony, Rutland, Twin Valley, and Burr and Burton, gathered at Willow Park to compete in the ninth annual Lee Goldsmith Memorial Soccer Tournament on Saturday.

The tournament officially marks the beginning of soccer season with high school tryouts less than a week away. The tournament is in honor of Lee Goldsmith, a former MAU soccer player, who passed away in 2009 after a three-year battle with melanoma. He was a 2002 MAU grad.

"Lee's Mom, Dad, and family have been coming to the tournament every year," said MAU boys soccer coach Mike Molloy. "My assistant coach came up with the idea to hold a preseason tournament each year to honor his memory."

Each team that competes in the tournament plays seven players, including a goalie, but no coaches.

"The organization and building of teams is up to [the kids]," Molloy said. "Everybody, including referees, donate their time for the tournament. While we have five teams this year, the most teams we ever had was probably around eight. It is pretty level competition-wise, making the games very entertaining."

To qualify for the tournament, kids needed to be enrolled in high school and only all-male or coed teams were allowed. The tournament also featured no-offsides rules and large goals. As a result, this lead to plenty of games in which teams would score seven or eight goals.

Since there was five teams, each one would play each other once, in a round-robin format, with the two teams that scored the most goals playing in the championship. Mount Anthony won the tournament in 2016 and the winner of the tournament gets their team name engraved on the Tournament's Trophy.

Mount Anthony won the 2017 version, 5-3.

"A few years ago we were re-purposing an old trophy that we were going to get rid of," Molloy said. "Instead, we came up with the idea of turning it into the tournament's trophy. We have all the champions on it. The Goldsmiths keep the trophy on their mantle for the rest of the year."

Lee's father, Michael `Mick' Goldsmith, referees the final game of the championship every year.

Mick has been refereeing soccer for 25 years, spending most of that time with high school teams.

"Coach Molloy came up with the idea to let me referee the final game back at the original tournament," Goldsmith said. "It is fun and good to see all the kids out here showing off their skills. The timing is perfect because we all know that soccer frenzy is coming."

The money earned during the tournament goes to the Lee Goldsmith scholarship, which goes to students each year. The scholarship has been so successful that it has raised enough money to help the kids with tools and equipment, like a Jugs machine, which can duplicate any shot or pass.

"Obviously when we first started this it was difficult because it was in our son's memory," Goldsmith said. "We have come to enjoy it more and it is good to see that it is still growing. It is very satisfying to see what this has turned into. This makes us very proud to see."

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