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Photos by Laura J. Gardner | The Journal Gazette
South Side’s Levi Thompson takes control of the ball against Wayne’s Cesar Maldonado during the SAC soccer jamboree Saturday.

Soccer jamboree primes SAC teams

Snider’s Mckenzie Kell, left, and Bishop Dwenger’s Haley Stephenson go for a loose ball.

On an overcast day, with the sun occasionally peaking out from behind the clouds, the eight SAC schools headed out to the Fort Wayne Sport Club on Saturday for a little soccer get-together, a first for the conference and a rarity around the state.

The SAC jamboree featured eight games – four boys and four girls – alternating games on two fields to keep ready for the regular season, which gets under way for real this week. The event is the brainchild of South Side boys coach Jeff Roberts and hasn’t been done in the SAC like this before, and it may be the only one like it in the state.

“No one in the state gets together like this,” Roberts said.

Roberts said he was inspired by his dozen years of coaching football when teams would play in jamborees, which brought together multiple teams in exhibition games before scrimmages came along.

“I thought back to the times when I played, and the whole community came out,” Roberts said. “It sounded like something that would be interesting for soccer. You will see Luers kids talking to North Side kids, and North Side kids talking to South Side kids.

“It is fun, because when next week rolls around, it is not as much gamesmanship as it is right now.”

The event also served as a fundraiser for the end-of-the-season SAC soccer banquet, and the day wrapped up with alumni games with five teams loaded with 25 former SAC players.

For the players, it was all about competition and camaraderie, and for the coaches, it was about evaluation.

“We’ve have yet to win a scrimmage in the six years that I have coached,” Roberts said. “I am more into possessions, and if we can possess the ball I am happy. I don’t worry about who scores and how my keeper plays; I just want them to possess because you are still trying to build your team, and we are not there yet.”

In the case of the Concordia girls, it was about breaking in a new unit after a trip to the Class A semistate a year ago. Graduation cost the Cadets eight seniors, leaving the team without experience. Three freshmen are on the starting unit.

“It gives us a chance to see some kids play against competition, not just the JV team in practice,” Concordia girls coach Glenn Harkenrider said.

“It allows us to try some different formations and work our set plays and see how we work together as a team. There are some different combinations we are going to use, and it’s nice to not worry about whether I am going to win this game or lose this game.”

Harkenrider said he also tested some players at different positions at the jamboree.

“I wouldn’t have the confidence to do that in a regular season game against Homestead,” Harkenrider said. “It is nice to get all the teams out here and see all the kids just to see soccer, it’s awesome.”

gjones@jg.net

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