It'll be tough for the 2006 edition of the Payson Men's Independence Day Soccer Tournament to match the drama and excitement that unfolded last year.
In probably the most electrifying game in the history of the tournament, the Incinerators and the Samba -- a pair of Scottsdale teams that have long been rivals in the holiday tournament -- tied 2-2 in regulation play of the gold-medal finale.
To decide the champion, rules called for a shoot-out in which both teams alternated five shots each from 12 yards in front of the goal.
Each squad was allowed to defend with a lone goalkeeper.
On the Incinerators' first shot, Samba star goalie, Vincente DeVuono, shrugged off the pressure of the tense situation to deflect the line drive attempt. That defensive effort eventually proved to be the difference in the shoot-out as the two teams made good on their next nine attempts.
With the 5-4 triumph, Samba players jubilantly celebrated their second Payson Independence Day championship.
The Incinerators will return to Payson, July 1 and 2, to try to make it back to the gold-medal round. Samba, however, will not be in the five-team field.
Other teams entered include Mirage, Sand Dragons, Olympia and the Payson Futbol Club.
Olympia will be playing in its first Payson Independence Day tournament.
"We don't know much about them," said Lee Woods, longtime Payson Futbol Club member.
All visiting tournament teams are from the Valley area.
In the tournament format, six points are awarded for a victory, three points for a tie and none for a loss. Each goal scored earns a team an additional point to a maximum of three. A shut-out is also worth one point. The most points a team can earn each game is 10 with a maximum of 50 for the tournament.
Last year, Samba carded 36 points to take first in the round robin. The Incinerators were runners-up with 33 points. Payson carded eight points with a 1-4 record.
For the 2006 tournament, games in a round robin format will be played July 1 on the Rumsey Park library field beginning at 7:30 a.m. and continuing to 9:45 p.m.
The round robin will continue July 2 from 7:30 until 11:45 a.m.
At the conclusion of the round robin, points will be tallied and the champion crowned.
Woods said there will be no championship bracket this year because the holiday weekend is two days rather than three as it has been in the past.
"Some players have to work Monday so we want to get them out of here to their homes," he said.
Also this year, only one field will be used because the goals are down on the older Rumsey Park north field, as it is scheduled for renovation.
Another change from past years is the age requirement. It is changing from 35-years-and-older to 40-years-and-older.
That change should benefit the Payson club.
"We played in a Scottsdale (40-years) league and finished second," Woods said.
On opening day, the Payson team plays a 7:30 a.m. vs. Mirage; 10:30 a.m. vs. Olympia; and 7 p.m. vs. Sand Dragons. On the second day, Payson plays at 9 a.m. vs. Incinerators.
There is no admission charge to the tournament and spectators are welcome.
-- To reach Max Foster call 474-5251 ext. 114 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.