Friday, March 16, 2012
Weekend Watch: Five must-see matches
By Sheldon Shealer
Each week during the high school season, ESPNHS highlights five weekend matches that have a compelling storylines or could have significant state, region and/or national implications.
This week, with California finished and Texas on spring break, the focus shifts to the southern spring-playing states where a number of match-ups could prove which states offer the strongest soccer this season.
Friday, March 16
Spring No. 14 St. Pius (Atlanta) vs. Auburn (Ala.)
St. Pius plays back-to-back state-ranked teams from Alabama this weekend, starting with Auburn on Friday. Auburn enters with a 10-1 record, while St. Pius has rolled to a 6-0 start with six shutouts. St. Pius has a bit more riding on this outcome, yet it will be a good measure between top programs from Alabama and Georgia.
No. 18 Milton (Alpharetta, Ga.) vs. Roswell (Ga.)
Nationally ranked Milton isn’t the only undefeated team entering this Georgia showdown. Roswell is a surprising 7-0-1, as well. Roswell has yet to allow more than one goal in a match, which could result in a low-scoring affair between teams ranked No. 1 and 3 in Class AAAAA by the state coaches association.
Huntsville (Ala.) vs. Virgil Grissom (Huntsville, Ala.) This city rivalry will be a battle between teams vying for an ESPNHS Alabama state ranking. Huntsville, currently No. 2, is ahead of Grissom, which previously was in the top three but fell out. Huntsville is 12-0, while Grissom sports a 12-3 record.
Saturday, March 17
No. 14 St. Pius (Atlanta) vs. Spain Park (Birmingham, Ala.) This is a match that could influence teams ranked Nos. 10-20 in the POWERADE FAB 50, even if favored St. Pius wins. Spain Park has a pair of one-sided losses to No. 19 Oak Mountain (Birmingham, Ala.). If St. Pius cannot put away Spain Park, then it will be justification to jump Oak Mountain higher in next week’s rankings.
No. 49 T.L. Hanna (Anderson, S.C.) vs. Providence (Charlotte, N.C.)
This is going to be an important border war that helps size up the North Carolina and South Carolina programs. Hanna has risen to the top of the South Carolina rankings thanks in large part to a surprise win over perennial state favorite Wando (Mount Pleasant, S.C.). Providence, meanwhile, is 5-1 with a 3-0 loss to Hough (Charlotte, N.C.), which is No. 16 in last week’s POWERADE FAB 50. A comfortable win by Hanna will validate a move up in the rankings. However, a win by Providence could signal that North Carolina is far stronger and deeper than South Carolina this year.