GENEVA—As cliché as it sounds, big time players stepped up to make big time plays in a big time game in the inaugural Ohio Varsity All-Star Soccer Classic presented by Cleveland Clinic Sports Health on Saturday at SPIRE Institute.
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The event, which included separate girls and boys all-star games, benefitted the Wounded Warrior Project.
Chardon’s Chantal Daughtery and VASJ’s Ariele Floyd each scored a pair of goals to lead Team Navy to a 5-2 win over Team Army in the first game and Perry’s Alec Schenk netted two shots to pace Team Air Force in a 4-1 win over the Marines.
“It was a great experience for everyone and to come out with a win in their last game as a senior was pretty cool for them,” said Premier Athletic Conference Coach of the Year Janet Nikses of Madison, who coached the Navy All-Stars. “It was nice to play with all the girls and to see them communicate with each other, especially in the second half, and to see them pass and have a good time and get to know each other.”
Beaumont’s Alexis Bovell added a goal for the Navy while Kirtland’s Ashleigh Kmentt and Conneaut’s Brooke Bennett both scored for the Army-All-Stars.
I’m really happy that I got to do this because I’ve never experienced such good players all in one place at the same time, it was really neat,” Daugherty said. “It feels good (to end her career with a win). I just love the feeling. I want to remember this feeling.”
Daugherty was proud to do her part to honor the four branches of the military and to help support the Wounded Warrior Project.
“I thought it was a really creative idea and I love to support this,” she said.
Kirtland coach Ed Bradac, the Chagrin Valley Conference Coach of the Year, enjoyed his time on the sideline guiding the Army All-Stars, even in defeat.
For Bradac, the all-star game wasn’t about the outcome as much as it was giving a group of talented girls one more opportunity to shine.
“We joke, the harder part is how you get everybody in and how do you get everybody equal playing time because these are girls that play 80 minutes, so they’re used to never come off the field,” Bradac said. “They were great, laughing and joking at halftime and I think that’s what this is about.”
Schenk, who helped lead Perry’s wrestling team to a second place finish in the 2013 state tournament, made the most of his final high school soccer game. He scored two goals on two different all-star goal keepers in the night cap.
“The first one, I was just faking a little bit as I was running across the top of the box there and I just ripped and had some nice outside bend into the corner that; it was pretty cool,” Schenk said. “The second one I was calling for (Eastlake North’s) Mate (Turkalj) and he played one right over, had great backspin right into the box. It stopped and I just volleyed it.”
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Willoughby South’s Bob Rinehart and Wickliffe’s Kevin Somody also scored for the Air Force. Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin’s Cody Paterniti scored the Marines’ only goal.
Eastlake North’s Steve Misick coached Team Air Force to victory. He was impressed with the event and admitted to only tinkering with his lineup to allow his all-star players to do the rest.
“It was fun. It was great for me as a coach to be around quality players. It took me a little while to learn them, especially their names, but I thought we did a nice job,” he said. “The only coaching I really did was to organize a little bit in the back and let the playmakers do their thing. It was fun.
“The event was awesome. I wish this was around years ago. The more experiences like this for the kids, the better off they’re going to be.”
In keeping with the military theme, each team wore camouflaged uniforms customized with player names and numbers on the back. Four local companies sponsored the teams. Nu-Threadz sponsored the Navy team, Mentor Mitsubishi sponsored the Army, DesignWorks sponsored the Air Force and Mentor Kia sponsored the Marines.
Chardon girls’ coach Sara Neumore provided color commentary during the game to enhance the viewing experience for the nearly 500 spectators who attended the event.
The game, and playing at SPIRE’s indoor track & field facility, was an experience the players and coaches won’t soon forget.
“The facility is beautiful,” Nikses said. “The girls were very pleased with their shirts and knowing it went to a good cause with the Wounded Warrior (Project). The announcing during the game, I thought that was kind of neat.”
Through donations at the door and during halftime shootouts, the event raised $124 for the Wounded Warrior Project. Ohio Varsity will match that donation and send $250 to the charity to support wounded veterans.
Chardon's Chantal Daugherty
VASJ's Ariele Floyd
Kirtland's Ashleigh Kmentt
Perry's Alec Schenk