Bryan Ostrower would have been proud of the tournament that local soccer people and Northwestern have cooked up for this weekend, beginning Thursday at Manchester Meadows.
The second annual Bryan Ostrower High School Soccer Showcase features 16 high school teams from across the state, including 12 ranked in preseason polls. The tournament is named after Ostrower, a Northwestern alumni and soccer player and referee who passed away from brain cancer in 2011. He would have been thrilled to officiate games between some of the Palmetto State’s top programs.
“You can find out a lot about your team when you’re playing really good teams,” said Northwestern boys’ soccer coach Dominic Wren. “We’re delighted to have all the caliber of teams we’ve got.”
The event is a Rolodex of elite boys’ soccer programs in the state, including 4A powers Irmo, Wando – the No. 1 team in the state’s preseason rankings – Nation Ford, Clover, Dorman and host Northwestern. River Bluff’s program is only two years old, but led by longtime Irmo skipper Phil Savitz, the Gators will be in the state’s 4A upper echelon in no time. Then there is perennial 3A power Brookland-Cayce, South Pointe coming off its best boys’ soccer season ever, and Indian Land, which seemingly has an annual reservation in the 2A state finals after playing in the last three.
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Add in Rock Hill, York, Socastee and private school juggernauts St. Joseph’s and Cardinal Newman and Wren has achieved the goal he set last year of strengthening the Ostrower tournament’s field.
“You always want to be a solid foundation, so last year was great,” said Wren. “But this year our goal was to take it to another level and try and make it the premier preseason tournament.”
Weather may be an issue Thursday night, but Wren said the plan is to play through any conditions, provided schools from other parts of the state are allowed by their local districts to travel. There is a contingency plan should that be the case.
“If they can get here, then we’ll play,” he said.
The weather should be sunny, though still cool, come Saturday. Bryan Ostrower Brain Cancer Walk will be held at 1:30 p.m. that day at Manchester Meadows during a break in the soccer action. The walk’s aim is to raise awareness and monetary donations will also be accepted. The tournament will donate that money and its own contribution to the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University.
“It’s a great thing to make awareness of the cause and obviously Bryan was dear to a lot of people here at Northwestern and in the soccer community,” said Wren. “It’s really a positive event.”