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Prep soccer: State Tournament moved to Kanawha Valley

CHARLESTON, W.VA. - With limited options, including weather-damaged grass fields at Beckley's YMCA Soccer Complex, the State Soccer Tournament will be played in Charleston, the Secondary School Activities Commission announced on Wednesday.

Two sites with artificial surfaces - Coonskin Park's Schoenbaum Stadium in Charleston and Trace Fork Complex in South Charleston - will host the two-class, two-round tournament on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"We hate having to move the tournament from Beckley because of the effort of (tournament co-directors) David Laraba and Tom Carrico (Beckley athletic director), but we trust their judgment and recommendations," Gary Ray, the executive director of the Secondary School Activities Commission, said in a release on Tuesday.

The recent weather occurrences in the Mountain State forced tournament officials to consider other locations, since heavy amounts of precipitation wreaked havoc on Raleigh County - the original site of the State Tournament - and much of the state.

"In all fairness to the youngster who will be participating in the State Tournament they need a venue that will not impact the outcome of the game," Laraba said in a release Wednesday.

"It is in the best interest of our sport to move the tournament."

Since 2004, the State Tournament had been held on adjacent fields at the YMCA location in Beckley.

But because of the amount of rain and snow dumped on the natural grass fields by this week's storm, Laraba and others connected with the event determined those fields could not be ready even with the tournament moved back pushed back to Nov. 6-7.

So, for the first time since 2002 and 2003, the tournament will be played in Charleston.

Semifinals will be held Tuesday, Nov. 6 and finals Wednesday, Nov. 7 with Class AAA teams playing at Schoenbaum Stadium in Coonskin Park and Class AA-A squads competing at Trace Fork Soccer Complex on Corridor G.

Schoenbaum has had artificial turf since 2006 and the main field at Trace Fork was covered with artificial turf a little less than a year ago.

"It's a very good decision," Charleston Catholic boys Coach Sam Fox said. "Gary Ray and the (Secondary School Activities Commission) got it right."

The Irish are making their fifth consecutive trip to the State Tournament and are seeking a fourth straight championship.

"A year ago Trace Fork constructed a brand-new turf field," he said. "It's equal to, or better, than Schoenbaum because it's newer."

While seating may be an issue, Fox said there are currently two permanent sets of bleachers at the Trace Fork site and has "heard they might bring in some temporary ones."

The last time the State Tournament was played in Charleston there was only one classification and all games were played at Schoenbaum.

In 2003, Capital defeated Morgantown 3-0 to take the boys title, while Parkersburg South defeated Huntington 2-1 on the girls side. The previous year Beckley beat Wheeling Park 3-1 for the boys championship, while Sissonville shutout Parkersburg South 1-0 for the girls crown.

The event then moved to Beckley.

With the addition of a Class AA-A draw in 2008 and the Beckley complex being capable of handling two championship-level soccer matches on adjacent fields and with local support, it seemed like the tournament might have found a home.

Even with the artificial surface confronting teams next week, the bigger challenge may be overcoming the two-week layoff.

"It affects everyone the same though," Fox said. "It's not really an advantage or a disadvantage."

The Charleston Catholic boys will play in Tuesday's first game at 9:30 a.m. against Bridgeport at Trace Fork.

Play at Schoenbaum kicks off at 10 a.m. Tuesday with the Winfield girls facing Buckhannon-Upshur.

Contact sportswriter J.T. Simms at jtsimms@dailymail.com or 304-348-1735.


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