Will the wait be worth it?
After being rained out twice, Northwestern finally gets its shot at Spring Valley in boys Class AAAA soccer at 7 p.m. today at the Trojans' field.
The Trojans and Vikings have played for the state championship the last two seasons, with Northwestern winning 1-0 in 2006 and Spring Valley coming out ahead 3-2 last year in a game that was spread over two days.
It began on a Saturday, but was stopped when lightning and rain settled in over South Carolina's Stone Stadium. Play was stopped with 28:31 in the first half and neither team had scored.
The game resumed on Monday and Spring Valley's Sean Flynn scored the winning goal to break a 2-2 tie with 2:45 remaining. The Vikings also got a pair of goals from freshman Antoine Parris.
The two meetings should be incentive enough for both teams going into tonight's match, but there is more.
Spring Valley (16-0) is No. 1 in Class AAAA by scsoccer.com in its latest poll selected by the state's coaches. Northwestern (13-1) is No. 2. The Trojans have won 10 straight after losing 2-1 to Chapin in the Lake Murray Challenge preseason tournament.
"It seems like we've gone up against rain the last few times we played Northwestern,'' Spring Valley coach Dave Clark said. "The state championship last year, twice this year. We love coming to Northwestern. It's a great venue for high school soccer.
"We decided several years ago that this is a good rivalry for both teams. We respect what coach Dom Wren has done with Northwestern's program. It's one of the best in the state, and we like to play the best. Our kids see it as a challenge.''
The Vikings and Trojans are deserving of their rankings. Spring Valley has outscored its opponents 67-14 and has nine shutouts. Northwestern has outscored the opposition 66-9 and has blanked eight teams.
Northwestern belongs to Region 3-AAAA, which is becoming a soccer bonanza. South Pointe is No. 9 and Rock Hill No. 15. Spring Valley is the lone ranked team from Region 5-AAAA, but has beaten No. 4 Irmo, No. 7 Lexington and has a 5-0 win over South Pointe.
Spring Valley's scoring is spread out. Thomas Wollersheum leads the team with 18 goals. Parris has 10.
"We are blessed to have a lot of offensive weapons this year,'' Clark said. "And our goalie, Will Frierson, has nine shutouts.
"Northwestern is fast and comes at you for 80 minutes and is a very talented team. You win championships with defense, so we'll have to make sure there are no letups to beat them.''
Northwestern is led by a pair of all-state players -- junior forward Enzo Martinez with 29 goals and junior defender Zack Clark with five goals and 12 assists.
"This is the game of the season in South Carolina soccer,'' Wren said. "It's drawing wide interest. Going by the e-mails I've been getting and the talk on the message board, we should have people here from all around the state.
"Spring Valley is ranked No. 1 in the nation by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and they have to come to our house. It's not a state championship game, but it will be a great occasion.''
Tickets are $5.