Spring Valley girls soccer Stephen Lea has a big smile on his face as the 18th annual Spring Valley Viking Cup tournament approaches.
The reason is simple: Lea knows there is a favorable weather forecast for this weekend. Last year, bad weather washed out the Saturday and Sunday sessions. Two years ago, 32 teams slogged though a tournament marked by rain and muddy field conditions. At least there was a champion, unlike a year ago.
The elite event starts Thursday at Spring Valley and runs though Sunday’s 1 p.m. championship game.
“It’s about time,” said Lea, referring to the prediction of abundant sunshine and moderating temperatures in the Midlands though early next week.
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“Man, we’ve our problems with weather over the last five or six years. We lost the tournament last year, and it was so wet (in 2009) that we tore up our fields so badly that $6,000 worth of repairs didn’t fix it. For the past five or six years, we’ve had at least periods of rain during every tournament, and even had some sleet one year. Hopefully, the forecast will hold up because we’ve put together another great tournament and it would sure be nice to have dry fields all the way through for a change.”
Indeed, no tournament in South Carolina can match the quality and depth of the Viking Cup field. All but one of the top 15 teams in the Class 4A preseason rankings are entered. The field also features the top five teams in 3A and the top three in 2A. Defending state champions Mauldin (4A), Riverside (3A) and Bishop England (2A) are entered. In fact, Mauldin takes on BE in a dream first-round match on Friday.
The defending Viking Cup champion is Wando, which became the first team to ever win a VC title and go on to win a state champion in the same season.
“People started calling it the Viking Cup curse,” said Lea with a laugh. “It happen to us (Spring Valley) two years in a row back in the late 1990s. Viking Cup winners have reach the state finals, but never won until Wando ended all that.”
Two Friday games are schedule at Blythewood High.
2010 VIKING CUP SCHEDULE
Dreher vs. Chapin (No. 7, 3A), 5:30 p.m.; North Augusta (No. 15, 4A) vs. Spring Valley (No. 13, 4A), 5:30 p.m.; Blythewood vs. Dutch Fork (No. 8, 4A), 8:30 p.m.; Aiken vs. idge View (No. 10, 4A), 7 p.m.; Brookland-Cayce (No. 8, 3A) vs. Lexington (No. 11, 4A), 7:30 p.m.
Spartanburg (No. 6, 4A) vs. Wando (No. 2, 4A), 5:30 p.m.; South Aiken (No. 2, 3A) vs. J.L. Mann No. 5, 3A), 9:30 p.m.; Clover (No. 14, 4A) vs. T.L. Hanna (No. 9, 4A), 8:30 p.m.; Waccamaw (No. 2, 2A) vs. Byrnes, 5:30 p.m.; James Island vs. Riverside (No. 1, 3A), 7 p.m.; Bishop England (No. 1, 2A) vs. Mauldin (No. 1, 4A), 8:30 p.m.; Myrtle Beach (No. 4, 3A) vs. Eastside (No. 3, 3A), 7:30 p.m. at Blythewood; Woodruff (No. 3, 2A) vs. West Ashley (No. 7, 4A), 8 p.m. at Blythewood; Fort Mill (No. 4, 4A) vs. Summerville, 5 p.m.; West Florence vs. Irmo (No. 5, 4A), 5 p.m.; Airport (No. 12, 3A) vs. Dorman (No. 10, 4A), 7 p.m.