Teams prep for Crossroads Classic

Jan. 12, 2012 at 5:02 a.m.
Updated Jan. 11, 2012 at 7:12 p.m.

Maria Grifaldo kicks the ball during East's alumni scrimmage in December. The Titans open the season Friday.

Maria Grifaldo kicks the ball during East's alumni scrimmage in December. The Titans open the season Friday.

Season's outset is as good a time as any for soccer conversions. It's a time where those who might have minimal knowledge of the beautiful game can be indoctrinated as fans of the world's most popular sport.

This weekend, Victoria will host a 12-team tournament, with enough quality, contrasting styles and opponent diversity, to satisfy soccer apostles and those apathetic toward the sport.

The VISD Crossroads Classic features a dozen girls teams including Victoria's three varsity squads as well as nine other South Texas schools. The six UIL schools invited, including district rival and regional semifinalist Gregory-Portland, won a combined 11 playoff games last year.

"I think we have a really tough tournament all the way around," said Victoria East coach Misty Boenig. "It's going to be a good tournament and tough competition. I look forward to Calallen first. They are definitely a team we could possibly meet in the playoffs. I look forward to seeing what they have and the competition they will provide for our young ladies."

The Titans open the tournament, and their season, Friday with an 11:45 a.m. kickoff against Calallen at Memorial Stadium. That match will be preceded by Victoria West's opener against Houston St. Agnes at 10 a.m.

Though St. Agnes, which some publications have ranked nationally, did not bring their top team, Boenig and St. Joseph head coach Vicki Sontheimer do not expect the Tigers to bog down the level of play.

St. Joseph is one of three TAPPS schools in this weekend's tournament, meaning Friday will not be the first time the Lady Flyers take this field this season. Sontheimer said that might give her team a slight advantage; however, that might be mitigated by the fact Sontheimer only has 12 players on her team.

The Lady Flyers have played St. Agnes each of the past two seasons, and might continue the trend this weekend as both are on the top side of the bracket. St. Joseph will play Gregory-Portland at 10 a.m. at Patti Welder Stadium.

Each team will play a minimum of three games in less than 36 hours. If the three local schools are to win, they will have to win four matches during that span, a tall task for any team, especially those that are just beginning their seasons.

"They need to focus on one game at a time and not worry about who their opponent is," Sontheimer said about her 2-5 Lady Flyers. "We can't worry about how many games we'll play, or who we'll be playing."

Regardless of the compressed schedule, West coach James McCarter said Friday and Saturday's games will showcase the quality and competitiveness of girls soccer in South Texas.

It's possible the Warriors might meet district foes Gregory-Portland and Rockport-Fulton in the tournament, but if they do not, their coach said the weekend is a great chance for Shelbey Cade to be baptized by fire in her first varsity action.

"Her performance will be extremely important to us," McCarter said of his junior goalkeeper. "She has set some high goals for herself and she has put the work in. . She understands the pressures of being a goalie. With this being her first varsity start it will be a challenge. But, truthfully, I think she will stand up to the test and perform."



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