On a made-to-order Monday afternoon at Legion Park, the 2nd Annual Owensboro Street Soccer Bowl got off to a fast and furious start with the Owensboro-based Dominators living up to their nickname -- dominating Evansville Fire 05 by an 8-0 count in the boys' high school division.
No surprise here, for the Dominators were champions of the boys' middle school division in the inaugural event last spring.
The atmosphere, meanwhile, was sublime.
"I love this," said the Dominators' Dominic Ranallo, a rising freshman at Owensboro Catholic High School. "This is a public place, so anyone can come out here and play soccer, which is great for the game.
"It's a fast game on a smaller court, there's no stopping, and we're all sort of playing multiple positions out there. There are just two 15-minute halves in each game, but we play three games today, so we'll be pretty tired at the end of the night."
His teammate, Andrew Alexander, a rising freshman at Daviess County High School, appreciates the more relaxed atmosphere street soccer provides.
"I just like coming and hanging out with my friends, playing the game I love to play," Alexander said. "I do like the fast pace of play, but it's a little less formal than outdoor soccer -- it's just a different game."
Street soccer is also fan-friendly, according to Dominic's father, Russ Ranallo, and Andrew's father, Chris Alexander.
"I like watching it because it's fast and it's skill-oriented," Russ Ranallo said. "It's actually my favorite version of the sport. It feels like more of a sandlot game more than the outdoor game, which is more structured.
"The kids are excited about it -- they've been looking forward to this event for several months."
Chris Alexander, meanwhile, believes that the sport is lastingly beneficial.
"I like the chemistry it builds with the kids," he said. "It creates camaraderie, not only within the team but amongst all the kids. They build relationships with players they compete against during the school year, and I think it's a great thing -- that's something they'll carry with them forever.
"Plus, it's something that gets them out of the house in the summer, away from Xbox and computers and such."
Doug Sandifer, whose son Dax is also a member of the team, coaches the outdoor travel version of the Dominators -- Owensboro United 04. He, too, is a fan of street soccer.
"It's beneficial, for sure," Sandifer said. "It's a lot like Futsal with the low-bounce ball and the hard, fast playing surface. It requires players to utilize their technical skills with their feet to beat their opponents one-on-one.
"The transitions are quick from one end of the court to the other, and with the constant movement there is no place to hide out here. In the 11-on-11 version, not every player is directly involved with the play, and you can take a play off -- not here.
"The more they play, the more they touch the ball, it builds skills, so it's definitely good for the soccer in their future."