tampabay.com

Area's best come out to play

By JEREMY RASMUSSEN
Published March 3, 2006


CLEARWATER - It has been a banner year for area prep soccer with 10 teams making the state final four and three coming away with state titles.

Tonight, some of the top seniors get to lace up their cleats one last time in the Senior Soccer Challenge at the home of Class 6A boys state champion Countryside. The Challenge matches Hillsborough senior all-stars against their Pinellas counterparts.

The Pinellas boys battled from a 2-0 halftime deficit to win last year's match 3-2 in a shootout thriller. Hillsborough holds a 7-5 advantage all time in the battle for the Frank and Carol Ferguson Cup, named for the event's founders. In the girls competition, Pinellas overpowered Hillsborough 4-0 last year and has won the Cup three consecutive years.

With the Palm Harbor University boys and girls teams winning state titles along with the Countryside boys, the Pinellas side could have an advantage again this year.

"It's been a big year for Pinellas soccer," game organizer Allen Weatherilt said. "And since Pinellas won both games last year, Hillsborough is definitely going to be up for getting the honor back on their side."

The game will be televised on Catch-47.

13TH ANNUAL SENIOR SOCCER CHALLENGE

WHEN: Today. Girls play at 6 p.m., boys 8.

WHERE: Countryside High.

ADMISSION: Adults, $8. Students/youths $6.

AT STAKE: Scholarship money totaling $5,000. A player from each team will earn a $1,000 scholarship based on an essay contest and $250 will be given to the MVP of each team.

ETC: The game is a lead-in to the Clearwater Chargers' Collegiate Showcase on Saturday, which will feature 18 area boys and girls teams playing round-robin games at the Eddie C. Moore Complex (corner of McMullen-Booth and Drew Street in Clearwater). Dozens of college coaches are expected.