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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's Irmo Vs. Northwestern For National Championship - What Could Be Better?

When have the top two teams in the nation (ESPN Rise, NSCAA/adidas National Rankings) ever played for the South Carolina High School Championship - in any sport? Well, it's happening Saturday, May 23rd, 7 PM in Columbia South Carolina's Memorial Stadium when the Irmo Yellow Jackets, with their #2 National Ranking, take on The Northwestern Trojans and their #1 National Ranking. This is the match folks have been talking about since the two played in last years Upper State Championship Game. Shouldn't this game be on TV?

Why Irmo Will Win
  • Coach Phil Savitz. This 27 year veteran and 15 time state champion is an Icon in South Carolina. His teams are a reflection of him and this is a drought (no state crown since 2004) he sorely wants to stop. His team will be at their prime for the state championship game, a game Coach Savitz has literally owned since Boys Soccer was added as a sport.
  • Smash Mouth "football". Irmo will come out and pop you right in the face at the first kick, try to intimidate you and get you off your game. They are also very talented, with 4 all state performers (Midfielders; Zach Acree, JR,; Leo Mukofsky, SR, Forwards; Kyle McEwan, SR,; Taylor Varney, SR,)
  • Playing on a football field. The smaller field plays right in to their style of play, very physical. Their home field is also a football field.
  • Tradition. With 15 state soccer championships, Irmo rules the stat books. Reportedly, last years senior class was the first to never win a state championship. This years class is determined they will not be the second. The team traditionally dyes their hair yellow during playoffs - another point of intimidation. Irmo has never lost to Northwestern in a state championship game (2 - 0)
  • Home Game. Irmo is just 15 miles down the road.
  • All Soccer Officials and Referees live in Irmo. Probably not true, but after Irmo defeated Northwestern in the 2004 championship game on a questionable penalty kick - the belief is real in the upstate.
Why Northwestern Will Win
  • Experience. This is Northwestern's sixth trip to the championship game in the last 7 years. They have won the championship 2 of the last 3 years. They are used to the environment and know what it takes. Since Coach Dom Wren took over the program, the team has always gone to the championship game.
  • Enzo. That's Enzo Martinez. A complete, unselfish player - 4 time player of the year. Might be the best player to ever play in South Carolina high school soccer
  • Fan Support. Northwestern will bring a crowd, negating Irmo's "home field" advantage.
  • Supporting Cast. Northwestern also has 4 on the all state team; (Defenders; Robbie Benson, SR,; Sean Ferguson, SR, Midfielders; Alex Martinez, JR, Forwards; Enzo Martinez, SR,)
  • Coaching Staff. Loaded with international experience. This team knows the game.
What a great event this will be for South Carolina Sports.

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