By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
EAST RIVER —
Cool, windy conditions did not damper the enthusiasm of the players, parents and officials at the Second Annual East River Soccer Classic, Saturday at the East River Soccer Complex.
Competition began at 8:30 with 26 teams from as nearby as Bluefield and as far away as Kentucky and Ohio, battling in different age groups against unfamiliar competition that in some cases opened the eyes of the participants.
Kyndall Baker of Princeton is a member of the U13 Bluefield Raptors girls team. Baker and her teammates squared off against K.C. Kentucky and Baker had one word to describe the game, “Physical.”
Baker added, “It showed us that we are going to have to be more physical playing the game.”
William Matthews is a fourth grader at Bluefield Intermediate who plays for the U10 East River Raptors boys team. Matthews has played soccer since he was 4 years old and talked about playing the different teams.
“It’s pretty cool because you get the experience with what to do in soccer and just have a good time,” Matthews said. His team won its first game of the morning and later in the day they were scheduled to play a squad out of Carroll County, Va. “I am hoping that we can win the game and go on to tomorrow (Sunday), into the semifinals.”
Matthews’ father, Monty was on hand to see his son play and was also set to officiate some of the action.
“We’re just trying to help out as much as we can here with the tournament and help out the Chamber of Commerce and East River (Soccer Association),” the elder Matthews said.
A trio of young men from the Radford Rivercats, a U13 team, were enjoying their time at the tournament.
“It was great except we didn’t win,” said Finn Jennings. “We were winning 3-1 and then our defense fell apart.”
Joced Lemon added, “It was pretty fun.”
Chet Kleppin said, “We were looking forward to having fun and playing games and winning. It’s great.”
The tournament is sponsored by the Princeton Mercer County Chamber of Commerce (PMCCC). Event co-chair Sharon Boggess was on hand in a dual capacity, watching her daughter Olivia, play for the Raptors U13 girls team and taking care of business.
“I was up doing a job on Field 2, so I was watching the start of Olivia’s game from the fence up there and then I got to come down and finishing watching her game, the second half. It worked out perfectly,” Boggess said. “I get to sleep in my bed tonight rather than a hotel room, and then we’ll be in Beckley next weekend, so we’re supporting Beckley’s tournament while they are supporting ours.”
Boggess said of the 26 teams there are teams from the East River Soccer Association, Beckley, Morgantonw, Kentucky and Ohio and those teams being in the area are having an impact on the economy.
“We definitely have that boost in the economy, which is what we really want to do from the chamber’s perspective,” Boggess said. “We always want to look for ways to help the economy. We’re definitely achieving that this weekend.”
Boggess said the event would not be possible without the support of sponsors that include Ramey Toyota and Princeton Health Care Center. The Princeton Rescue Squad was on hand in the event of injuries. R. Short Photography took more than 700 pictures at one game Saturday morning and had shots available for parents and players to obtain.
Now in its second year, Boggess said the plan is to keep things rolling.
“We really hope to continue to grow each year,” Boggess said.
Games begin this morning at 8:00 and the last one starts at 3:00.