Repeating as state champions in any sport is trying even under the most ideal circumstances. Injuries and graduation are just some of the factors at play. But when the Spartans open up defense of their state soccer crown next month, they will do so without one of the best players in the area who would otherwise be eligible to play.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Sunday that Brian Hail, the paper's All-Metro soccer player of the year in 2011, has chosen to stick with the Scott Gallagher Academy Program. New this year, boys are being required to choose the Academy or the high school route as USA Soccer nationally puts an emphasis on player development that it has said will lead to greater inroads in international competition, and assist elite-caliber players in reaching the next level.
Earlier this summer, Patch checked with coaches at Creve Coeur area high schools to see if they had a sense of which way their players were leaning. Head Coach Bill Daues said Nick Tobias, who earned Class 1 All State First Team honors in 2011, would remain in an Academy program in Illinois rather than playing for the Warriors as a senior.
The Post-Dispatch also reported Sunday that a quartet of players from who had the choice to make opted to stay in the Red Devil program.
"We are going to coach the guys that show up," De Smet Head Coach Greg Vitello told Patch via email last month. "If players decide to go another direction, so be it. We wish them well." He did add rhetorically that why a player would want to pass up playing for his high school "is totally beyond me."