With the country in a frenzy over the United States’ success in the World Cup, South Carolina soccer fans will have the chance to see more high school soccer this week.
Many of the state’s top players will play in Daniel Island on Saturday for the North-South Soccer Classic all-star games.
With sponsorship from the South Carolina United Football Club, the S.C. High School Soccer Coaches’ Association honors more than 60 players, including 26 Midlands athletes, in the annual contest.
For boys soccer, it is the 26th installment of a series in which the North team has dominated with 15 wins.
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This year’s South squad looks to have an advantage, with 3A finalist Brookland-Cayce leaders Tyler Brazzell and Aaron Davis joining a handful of stars from 4A champion Wando.
But more important than winning is the opportunity to celebrate a game that is growing in popularity.
“I love soccer, I love being around the kids and that’s why I do it. It’s such a joy to see these kids come together for one more game, and end their high school career,” said Airport girls coach Keith Morris, who will serve as the girls South team coach. “It’s all about the kids.”
The 18th annual girls all-star match features 15 local players, 10 of whom will be continuing their soccer careers in college.
Bob Taylor, who led Chapin to a Class 3A runner-up finish, serves as assistant coach on the North squad. Among the Midlands players on his squad are midfielders McKenzie Walpole and Sara Corning of Chapin, Spring Valley’s Cierra Smith, Melissa Wyant of Richland Northeast, Blythewood’s Savannah Purvis and Irmo’s Maddie Cox.
The South team, which holds an 8-7-2 lead in the series, is heavy with goalkeepers and defenders, including Airport keeper Morgan McCray, Swansea’s Casey Rish and Brookland-Cayce’s Helena Walters.
“At this level, they’re all great soccer players. They’ve all had great high school careers, and we have a lot of talent on this team,” Morris said.