published Sunday, October 27th, 2013

State soccer tourney moves west

Sunday was most likely a bittersweet day for Chattanooga Christian soccer coach Cal Sneller.

His team found out that they will play third-ranked Christian Academy of Knoxville (14-7-2) in the quarterfinals of the A/AA state tournament at 6:30 Eastern on Wednesday afternoon -- the eighth-ranked Lady Chargers' third consecutive trip to the tournament after a one-year hiatus in 2010. Yet, another look at the site of the upcoming state soccer tournament -- Murfreesboro -- was a definite change.

After 17 years of the state soccer tournament taking place in Chattanooga, it was moved in November to a more central location at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex in Murfreesboro. The Lady Chargers (10-8-4) and Notre Dame (12-6-4), who plays Liberty Tech at 3:30 Wednesday, will be the two area teams attending.

"I understand that they wanted to go centrally. I just think that we had a smooth, full-sized field which provided a special opportunity," Sneller said. "You should want to play on the best surface and I feel like we have that. Nobody comes to our field and doesn't like playing on it.

"We will still try to get the tournament back here [to Chattanooga]."

In years' past, CCS was the home for the A/AA quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. Baylor hosted AAA games and some Division II matches, while most Division II matches -- as well as the championship rounds -- were played at GPS. Chattanooga Christian recently installed turf on their field, which was unveiled in their season opener in August, while Baylor also now as a turf field above their primary playing field.

The girls' soccer tournament moving to Murfreesboro means that no state tournament is held in Chattanooga currently, a far cry from the past. Girls' soccer, volleyball, wrestling and Spring Fling -- the Olympic-style spring sports event which has the baseball, softball, boys' soccer, tennis and track tournaments all in the same city at the same time -- were once held in the Scenic City.

Now, for the next few years girls' soccer will be played at the complex in Murfreesboro, which has 16 side fields and allows multiple matches to be played at the same time. One issue with the tournament in Chattanooga was that matches had to start at 11:30 in the morning on opening day, since only three fields were being used. Now matches won't begin until 3:30 in the afternoon.

Championships will now be played at the main field -- which also serves as Siegel's home field.

"Honestly, I'm not impressed with Siegel," Notre Dame coach Jim Schermerhorn said. "We had so many good games at CCS, so now it's killing me. We didn't have a home field advantage because we didn't host matches, but I know that there are no better fields than the ones at CCS, Baylor and GPS."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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