The PYSL U16 boys team (in white) plays in a game Saturday during the Piedmont Shootout at the Smith River Sports Complex. (Bulletin photo by Derek Major)
Sunday, November 17, 2013
By DEREK MAJOR - Bulletin Sports Writer
The fifth annual Piedmont Shootout tournament is the final event of the year for the Piedmont Youth Soccer League, but there is no shortage in competition with 59 teams in action from U11 through U18 for both boys and girls.
The majority of the teams are no more than a few hours away, but this year the tournament expanded as teams from Chesapeake, North Carolina and West Virginia participated.
Bill Wagoner, an assistant for the Hurricanes’ U16 boys team, said he has been more than satisfied with the expansion of the tournament in recent years.
“This is our home tournament, and it’s the last event of the season, but it’s also PYSL’s biggest event of the year,” Wagoner said. “This has turned out to be a really good event, and as you can see the parking lots are full and the fields are full. The competition is stiff, and we hope to get more teams involved in the future.”
The tournament is a two day event and according to Andy Quirk, a former president and current board member of the PYSL, a high turnout of support for the players is expected.
“This year we’re expecting about 1,300 people per day at the event,” he said.
PYSL director Enda Crehan feels the tournament has become a real favorite for a lot of regional teams. Crehan said he's been pleased with the tournaments continued growth and has become an established tournament.
"The tournament ran really well (Saturday) and we are all excited for today's games," Crehan said. "It's great for us at PYSL and the Smith River Sports Complex to be able to hold such an event. It's a good boost to the local economy with teams staying at the hotels and eating at the restaurants."
For some, the tournament is a recruiting tool. For others, it’s a chance to face stiffer competition, and more about developing certain skills.
“The biggest reason for the shootout is just to continue the development of the skills of the children. There’s been a lot of hard play and good sportsmanship, and a lot of good competition,” PYSL U12 coach Randy Cook said. “The tournament has gotten bigger and bigger every year, which is always a good thing. There are a few new teams from Chesapeake this year, and Halifax has a team in the U11 bracket this year as well.
“It helps grow soccer in this area. The more experience the players and teams get, the more it’ll grow.”
For the players, it’s a good way to gauge their talent before heading into the off-season. It’s also one last chance to win something significant as many teams are compromised of all-stars from summer leagues.
“There are teams here we don’t normally play so that‘s always a good thing,” Wagoner said.
Sam Diggerson, a player on the Hurricanes’ U16 boys team, said he was excited to face some new teams this weekend.
“The tournament is really good. I like how many teams have come in and brought a lot of people to the area,” Diggerson said. “It’s good competition and we’re happy to be here.”
The Piedmont Shootout concludes today with the championship rounds.