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Each soccer season, a number of tournaments -- usually regional in scope -- have the ability to alter the landscape of the ESPN RISE FAB 50 national rankings.
Looking ahead to the 2009 fall boys' soccer season, the Gateway Classic, scheduled for Oct. 1-3 in Collinsville, Ill., remains the lynchpin high school event. Six of the preseason FAB 50 teams will compete in an event that features representatives from nine states.
The main draw will be a pair of eight-team tournament brackets. Bracket A features two-time defending state champion Rockhurst Jesuit (Kansas City, Mo.) and perennial power St. Thomas Aquinas (Overland Park, Kan.). Bracket B is loaded with FAB 50 teams: Christian Brothers (St. Louis, Mo.), Reitz Memorial (Evansville, Ind.), Zionsville (Ind.) and Marquette (Milwaukee, Wis.).
The featured players include: Zionsville teammates Harrison Petts, an ESPN RISE fall soccer All-America pick who has committed to Indiana University, and A.J. Corrado, who has committed to Southern Methodist University; junior scoring sensation Max Lachowecki of Reitz Memorial (Evansville, Ind.); Cherry Creek (Englewood, Colo.) midfielder Robbie Derschang, who also is committed to SMU; Christian Brother's Austin Tierney, a SIU-Edwardsville commit; former youth national team keeper Bryan Carr from Marquette; and a pair of Drake commits in Rockhurst's Bryan Jantsch and St. Thomas Aquinas' Sean Latz.
The importance of this event cannot be understated in light of the national rankings, not only for the teams involved but also the teams that come in contact (through regular season or postseason) with the teams involved. As an example of how this tournament influences the bigger picture of national rankings, St. John the Baptist (West Islip, N.Y.) is a state-ranked team competing at the Gateway Classic and during the regular season it will face last year's FAB 50 No. 1 Brentwood (N.Y.) and No. 2 St. Anthony (Melville, N.Y.), which are both projected top five teams this season.
Some of the interesting side notes to the event:
• Reitz Memorial has a 50-match win streak entering the season and it might be able to bring a 56-match undefeated streak into the event.
• North Tahoe (Tahoe City, Calif.) actually competes in Nevada when it comes to the playoffs. The school's location makes it one of the few schools nationally that is located in one state yet competes in the state association of a neighboring state based on geographic concerns.
• The A and B brackets were divided largely based on the schools that are allowed to play two matches a day. Those schools are placed in Bracket B and will play three contests during the Friday-Saturday event. The Bracket A teams will each play one match per day, Thursday through Saturday.
• Last year's event offered three brackets and all three champions are back: Christian Brothers, St. Thomas Aquinas and Reitz Memorial.
Official Tournament Pairings
(First round will be played Thursday with the second round on Friday and the placement matches on Saturday)
Thursday, Oct. 1: Quincy (Ill.) vs. North Tahoe (Tahoe City, Calif.); Rockhurst Jesuit (Kansas City, Mo.) vs. Grandview (Aurora, Colo.); Cherry Creek (Englewood, Colo.) vs. Rockwood Summit (Fenton, Mo.); St. Thomas Aquinas (Overland Park, Kan.) vs. St. John the Baptist (West Islip, N.Y.).
(First-round will be played Friday with the second round and placement matches played Saturday)
Friday, Oct 2: Marquette (Milwaukee, Wis.) vs. Brother Rice (Chicago, Ill.); Zionsville (Ind.) vs. Cape Central (Cape Girardeau, Mo.); Christian Brothers (St. Louis, Mo.) vs. Dunbar (Lexington, Ky.); Glenwood (Chatham, Ill.) vs. Reitz Memorial (Evansville, Ind.).
Sheldon Shealer covers youth soccer for ESPNRISE.com. He can be reached at Sheldon.Shealer@espn.com.