One of, if not the, premier girls high school soccer tournaments in the entire country kicked off Thursday in North Texas. Hosted by Nolan Catholic, the National Elite Prep Showcase features more than 30 high-caliber soccer squads from Texas, California and beyond.
This year’s field includes the top four high school clubs in the nation, according to website TopDrawerSoccer.com, which is why the website noted, “Simply put, there's no other event like it for girls soccer any time of the year.”
The top story of day one, unfortunately, might have been the weather. The blistering cold and wind forced tournament organizers to rearrange some game times and move what games they could to TCU’s Sam Baugh Indoor Facility.
TopDrawerSoccer’s No. 1, Flower Mound Marcus, did its part to play the role on Thursday, blasting past Duncanville 9-1. Baylor commit Taylor Moon scored five times for the Marauders.
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Southlake Carroll, the No. 2 team in the national poll, also rolled to an easy win. The Lady Dragons logged a 6-0 whitewashing of Liberty Christian, with four of those goals coming from Sydney Nobles.
Earlier in the day, Keller opened its season with a 1-0 loss to No. 4 Liberty, from Brentwood, California. Indians coach Billy Griffiths was satisfied with his team’s first performance of the year.
“I thought we played very well,” Griffiths said. “They were really good and fast and very physical. For being our first game, we created opportunities to score. We just came out on the wrong end of it.”
All four of the top ranked teams will match up on Friday. Marcus and Liberty will clash at 3 p.m. at Nolan Catholic High School, while Southlake Carroll and No. 3 Carondelet, Calif., face off at noon at Dragon Stadium in Southlake.
In other notable action on Thursday, reigning 6A UIL state champion Flower Mound lost its opener, 3-1, to Sierra Canyon (Calif.).
Grapevine, 5A UIL runner-up a year ago, defeated Keller Central 2-0 in its opener.
Coppell edged Arlington Martin 1-0 and Austin Vandergrift knocked off Nolan Catholic 1-0.
For teams like Keller, which isn’t recognized among the national elite by TopDrawerSoccer, the NEPS is an opportunity to gauge themselves against those that are.
“I think it’s huge for our confidence,” Griffiths said. “We feel like we’ve worked our way up over the past five or six years to be one of those teams in the mix of elite teams in the Metroplex. Being able to play in this and have the confidence to play in it is huge for us. We love being able to say we can compete in something like this.”