USF forward Hunter West (white uniform) collides with UNC Goalkeeper Justin Hughes (#24 on ground) as they arrive at the ball.
Photos by Carl Wagenfohr
CLEARWATER - For many, Easter weekend is about relaxation and family gatherings. For approximately 2,400 youth who descended on Clearwater last weekend, it was all about soccer.
Hosted at the Clearwater Sports Complex in Countryside and six other soccer venues in Clearwater, Largo, Dunedin, East Lake and Oldsmar, the 22nd annual Countryside Youth Soccer Association Easter Tournament comprised about 300 matches across 19 gender and age brackets.
A new feature of this year's Easter Tournament was a series of four college exhibition matches held on Friday and Saturday nights, providing the youth with an opportunity to watch players with the advanced skills that they aspire to. Youth players, their coaches and families ringed the field on both nights, the number of spectators each night estimated at between 2,500 and 3,000 by Tournament Director Brian Shriver, Sr.
Friday night featured the women of the University of South Florida and Baylor University, and the men of the University of North Carolina versus the Under-17 US Men's National Team. Baylor defeated USF by a score of 4-1 on goals by Anna Schuch (2), Katie White and Mollie Smith; Melanie Sutherland scored USF's only goal. The US U-17 National team defeated UNC 3-2 on goals from Anthony Wallace, Jeremy Hall and Josmer Altidore; Ben Hunter and Cameron Lewis scored UNC's goals.
Saturday night featured the women of the University of North Carolina and Florida State University, and the men of UNC and USF. The women played 9 a side due to injuries and call-ups to US National Team training camps. FSU defeated UNC 2-0 on goals by India Trotter and Viola Odebrecht.
The men's game, featuring UNC's Brian Shriver, formerly of Clearwater High School, and USF's Joey Brown, formerly of Seminole High School, ended in controversy. UNC's Michael Harrington scored early in a first half that was played tough. Near the end of the half, USF forward Hunter West and UNC goalkeeper Justin Hughes charged toward a loose ball rolling goalward. They collided, resulting in a head injury to Hughes.
Hughes injury was severe enough to need medical treatment. A 911 call was placed and Safety Harbor Fire and Rescue, stationed just across McMullen Booth Road, responded. While paramedics were treating Hughes, another on-field collision occurred, this one resulting in a head injury to UNC defender Scott Campbell. Paramedics then began treating him.
At halftime, UNC players urged their coach, Elmar Bolowich, "End it - end it." And end it he did, telling the referee that his team would not continue. Bolowich said, "Two of my players are going to the hospital. I'm not going to risk any more injuries." A UNC player said, "It's too rough out there. The refs aren't calling anything."
On Monday, Tournament Director Brian Shriver said that the injured players were OK, and had returned to Chapel Hill on a flight with their teammates on Sunday.
Despite the unfortunate outcome of the final college game, Shriver said that plans are underway for next year's Easter exhibitions, with commitments already obtained from the UNC men's and women's teams, the Under-17 Mens National Team, and the University of Tennessee women's team.
For the record, local youth fared well in this year's Easter Tournament, the following teams winning their brackets:
USF Defenders Melanie Sutherland and Paulina McIntosh (white uniforms) battle for a header with Baylor Forward Missy McConnell (#18 foreground)
Photo by Carl Wagenfohr
FSU forward India Trotter (left) and UNC midfielder Melissa Hayes (right) battle for a loose ball.
Photo by Carl Wagenfohr
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition