The range in weather for the spring-playing states was never more evident than this past week.
When the second part of the Smoky Mountain Cup in Gatlinburg, Tenn., wrapped up Sunday morning, it was 73 degrees. At exactly the same time, some 4,200 miles northwest, it was 33 degrees in Anchorage, Alaska, and dozens of volunteers -- including players, coaches and parents -- were digging out of the latest snowfall that has literally iced the season.
The Southeast states, with more favorable weather, start early in the spring and most teams have played around 15 matches by April 10. In Anchorage, the collapse of The Dome in January and snow-covered outdoor fields in April have left many Alaska teams scrambling -- with none of the projected title contenders having played more than once. The Dome plays an important role in high school soccer in Alaska, as the first month of the season is played under roof until it is warm enough and snow has melted in order to play outdoors. Without that facility, weeks have passed with next to no match play. Teams have been relegated to gyms and hallways for practice.
On Sunday, the district allowed volunteers, using plastic shovels only, to remove the snow from the turf field at Kincaid Park in hopes of getting matches played this week. There's still no plan in place to deal with the month of games that have been lost.
AROUND THE NATION: The winter season has finally reached the final week of play as the Texas UIL 6A, 5A and 4A boys and girls champions will be crowned this weekend. Highland Park (Texas), the SIMA FAB 50 girls No. 1 team, has advanced to the state semifinals while the other national title conteders have been eliminated. On the boys side, Dobie (Pasadena, Texas) knocked off a pair of SIMA FAB 50 teams to leap to No. 2 in the Texas state rankings entering the final week. ... In spring soccer, Brookwood (Ga.) won the top flight of the Smoky Mountain Cup boys division in an all-Georgia final. ... Thanks to Westminster Schools (Ga.), Georgia's stock on the girls side took a step forward. Westminster, ranked No. 3 in the state, knocked off a pair of nationally ranked and state No. 1 teams. ... SIMA FAB 50 No. 1 Naperville North (Ill.) edged New Trier (Ill.) 2-1 in a clash of SIMA FAB 50 Top 10 programs as the week's featured match.
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