Like Groundhog Day, the annual Taco Bell Viking Cup girls soccer tournament is a harbinger of the spring sports season. The 32-team tournament begins today at Spring Valley.
Vikings coach and tournament organizer Steve Lea is excited about the possibilities for this year.
"We've got the same caliber of teams in the tournament as we had last year, pretty much the best in the state," Lea said.
The tournament includes top-ranked teams from all classifications, including Dutch Fork, Wando, Riverside, Bishop England and Airport. Bracket play begins today at 5:30 p.m. with Dreher facing Chapin and the Vikings facing North Augusta at Spring Valley.
On Friday, the action spreads to Blythewood High and the Columbia United FC fields near Spring Valley. Lea is hoping for a big turnout this year, as last year's tournament lost money due to inclement weather that cut the tournament short after two days of play.
"Last year was a disaster for us," Lea said. "Usually, the tournament is a fundraiser for us, but last year we had to cancel everything and Saturday is really our biggest day."
This Saturday, the Viking Cup will feature 32 games as the field is whittled down to four teams. The championship game is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday.
"It's gonna be phenomenal," Lea said. "All the teams in the tournament are good. This weekend is when we're going to find out if we're one of the good teams or one of the great teams, which is pretty much what everyone else is doing."