Archive for Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Opinion: Tourney time?

November 7, 2006

With all due respect to Justin Woods, Van Rose and the town's entire high school sports community, soccer is the king of all fall sports in Shawnee.

And it has been for a while.

There's just something about soccer in this area that gets the blood boiling. Fans support it, rosters are filled with talent and the coaches know what it takes to put their programs in a position to win when it matters most.

This weekend marked the end of my fifth season covering soccer in the Shawnee area and although several other Shawnee sports squads have made an impression on me throughout my years, few have had the same impact as soccer.

From Maranatha's state championship in 2004 to a pair of third-place finishes from Mill Valley, the local soccer squads have delivered some memorable moments in the past few years.

This year was no different. Last weekend Maranatha and Mill Valley, both alive into November yet again, traveled to the state semifinals, two wins away from a state championship.

Both fell short of that goal, but by the time you reach the semis, you're coming home a winner no matter what the outcome.

Look at the Eagles, for example. They traveled south to Newton for the 1A-4A state championships, came home after two losses and still saw the season as a huge success.

As for the Jaguars, they were tripped up in the semifinals in Topeka, but managed to rally on Saturday to bring home third-place, tying for the program's best finish in school history.

Not bad for a couple of teams that had huge question marks entering the season.

And the best part about it is both expect to be right back there again next year.

The reason? These teams -- the players and coaches alike -- aren't afraid of anything.

Maranatha routinely loads its schedule with 4A, 5A and 6A powerhouses. Mill Valley's starting to do the same.

With that in mind, something came to me that seemed -- at the time -- to be a good idea. After further consideration, it still does.

Why not have an annual city soccer tournament? With the reputations of Maranatha and Mill Valley speaking for themselves, and Shawnee Mission Northwest's size factoring in, the proposition would be a win-win for everyone. I'm sure nearby schools such as St. James Academy and SM North would jump at the chance to get a little big-time soccer exposure.

Finding sponsors would be a piece of cake, as many of the city's best soccer players have parents in the stands who run prominent businesses in the area.

Call it whatever you want. Be simplistic and call it the City Soccer Tournament. Or add a little flare and dub it the Shawnee Soccer Spectacular.

The name is irrelevant. The tournament would work. Heck, I'm guessing that even current 5A state champion St. Thomas Aquinas, Bishop Miege or any of the other Shawnee Mission schools would be happy to compete.

So there you have it. You've got five schools in the area. You mix in three schools with prestigious soccer programs. And you play it at the Shawnee Mission North District Stadium over the course of three days, Friday through Sunday.

It would be a huge hit. And it would do wonders to bring more notoriety to the already well-known city soccer scene.

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