The 17th annual Palmetto Cup boys soccer tournament, deemed the No. 1 spring boys tournament in the Southeast by Student Sports, opens play Wednesday with eight matches at three sites in the Cayce-West Columbia area.
The 16-team field features Midlands entries host Brookland-Cayce, defending champion Spring Valley, Lexington, Sumter and late-entry Chapin. The out-of-state contingent includes familiar Cup visitor Norman North (Oklahoma), first-time entry Bob Jones (Alabama) and two Tennessee powerhouses – Farragut and Knoxville West.
The rest of the lineup includes Top 10 South Carolina teams from Wando, Eastside, Riverside, North Myrtle Beach, Christ Church, Southside Christian and Walhalla.
For the first time since the tournament expanded to 16 teams, Airport’s Eagle Stadium is not part of the Cup experience. B-C’s The Cage continues to be the anchor site, but other matches will be staged at Northside Middle School and Granby Education center.
“The fields at Northside and Granby are both true soccer fields, wide and in good shape, and it will be more of a club type of atmosphere, which most of the players are certainly used to,” said B-C coach Kevin Heise.
Spring Valley is the defending champion. The Vikings (7-2-1 and ranked No. 9 in Class 4A) beat Bishop England 4-1 in last season’s finale to become the first Midlands team to claim Cup honors since 2003.
Chapin agreed to fill out the field on short notice when Dobyns-Bennett (Tennessee) was forced to withdraw because of financial concerns. The Eagles have not played in the Palmetto Cup since 1996.
Here are capsule looks at the out-of-town teams:
Norman North – The Timberwolves have been a fixture in the spring national rankings for years, and are making their seventh Palmetto Cup appearance since their 2000 debut. Norman North has three Cup titles 2000, 2004 and 2005.
Farragut – The Admirals from Knoxville are making their fourth straight appearance at the tournament. Farragut went 19-2-2 last season, reaching the region semifinals in the Tennessee Class 3A state playoffs.
Knoxville West – K-West makes its Cup debut after going 17-5 last season and reaching the Tennessee Class 3A state semifinals.
Bob Jones – The Patriots bring a 13-2-1 record and a No. 4 ranking in Alabama Class 6A to the Midlands.
Wando – The Warriors from Mt. Pleasant enter with a 6-21 record and the No. 4 spot in the Class 4A polls. Wando, a traditional soccer powerhouse, is making its fifth straight trip to the Palmetto Cup. The Warriors went 20-3 last season and lost 2-0 to Spring Valley in the Lower State championship match.
Christ Church – The Cavaliers (6-3) return to the Cup for the first time since 2004. The Greenville-based team is ranked No. 1 in Class 1A and has won eight straight small school state titles under coach David Wilcox since the 1A debut in 2001.
Southside Christian – The Sabres (8-4) hope to make a run at the CCES dynasty in the Class 1A state playoffs this spring. SSC, from Simpsonville, dropped a 1-0 decision to Christ Church on March 18. SSC is making its second Cup appearance, its first since 2001.
Eastside – The Class 3A fifth-ranked Eagles (7-1) are a traditional Upper State power. Eastside went 22-4-1 last season and advanced to the US finals before losing to archrival Riverside. Thkis will be Eastside’s third visit to the Palmetto Cup.
Riverside – The defending Class 3A state champions before Chapin 2-1 in a PK shootout in last season’s state title bout. The Warriors are currently ranked No. 6 in 3A and sport a 5-3 record. Riverside is back in the Cup fold for the fourth straight year. The Warriors were tournament champions in 2007.
North Myrtle Beach – The Chiefs, 9-1 and ranked No. 4 in Class 3A, are back after making their Cup debut last spring.
Walhalla – The Razorbacks are making their Cup debut. Walhalla is 5-3 and ranked No. 5 in Class 2A.
Palmetto Cup schedule
Wednesday, April 8
The Cage – North Myrtle Beach vs. Spring Valley, 2 p.m.; Eastside vs. Wando, 4 p.m.; Brookland-Cayce vs. Walhalla, 6 p.m.; Bob Jones vs. Farragut, 8 p.m.. Northside MS – Knox West vs. Riverside, 2 p.m.; Chapin vs. Southside Christian, 4 p.m.; Christ Church vs. Norman North, 6 p.m. Granby EC – Lexington vs. Sumter.
Thursday, April 9
The Cage – Knox West vs. Lexington, Noon; North Myrtle Beach vs. Chapin, 2 p.m.; Spring Valley vs. Southside Christian, 4 p.m.; Bob Jones vs. Brookland-Cayce, 6 p.m.; Wando vs. Christ Church, 8 p.m. Northside MS – Norman North vs. Eastside, 1 p.m.; Farragut vs. Walhalla, 3 p.m. Granby EC – Riverside vs. Sumter, 5:30 p.m.
Friday, April 10
The Cage – Sumter vs. Knox West, Noon; Chapin vs. Spring Valley, 2 p.m.; Wando vs. Norman North, 4 p.m.; Farragut vs. Brookland-Cayce, 6 p.m.; Lexington vs. Riverside, 8 p.m. Northside MS – Walhalla vs. Bob Jones, 11 a.m.; Southside Christian vs. North Myrtle Beach, 1 p.m.; Christ Church vs. Eastside, 3 p.m.
On Saturday, placement matches are slated at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. at The Cage and Northside MS. In the championship bracket, semifinals matches at The Cage and Northside MS are at 9:30 a.m. The championship match is set for 6:30 p.m. at The Cage.