MARYLAND HEIGHTS • Melyk Taouil said she isn’t a morning person. Maybe that’s why Taouil didn’t score until the second half.
No matter, the junior’s goal made the difference as Holt beat Parkway Central 1-0 to help start a memorable Saturday that closed out the 14th Parkway College Showcase.
Holt and Parkway Central kicked off a slate of 20 high school girls soccer games just a bit after the scheduled 7:15 a.m. start time, and a little more than 10 minutes ahead of five 7:30 a.m. kickoffs at Lou Fusz Soccer Complex and St. Louis Scott Gallagher Complex.
“I mean, later in the day of course you’re going to have more energy, so getting everyone up and ready to play this early is always hard to do,” Taouil said. “I’m not a morning person. I had my coffee this morning. It helped out.”
The especially early start times — Friday’s schedule featured four more games and started three hours later — wasn’t an accident.
Michael Skordos, the tournament’s founder and director, said he made a third revision of the event’s schedule when the U.S. women’s national team announced it was playing Saturday against New Zealand at Busch Stadium.
“Everybody said they wanted to play earlier so they could go to the national team match,” said Skordos, who is the boys coach at Parkway West, “So I adjusted the schedule.”
Skordos said one of the main reasons he created the College Showcase in 2002 was to get players in front of college coaches. He said nearly 40 college coaches attended this weekend, and six college squads played exhibitions Friday night — Maryville, Quincy, Drury, Culver-Stockton, UMSL and Missouri S&T.
On Saturday morning, NCAA Division I programs Missouri and Iowa State played a pair of 45-minute exhibitions against two National Women’s Soccer League teams — defending champ FC Kansas City and Chicago, which featured former Triad standout Rachel Tejada.
Playing exhibitions against college teams in the spring is the norm for NWSL teams in their preseason. But their appearance at the College Showcase was a first, and just like many of the 61 high school teams, led each on a road to Busch.
“With the national team playing here, as a team we wanted to see it,” FC Kansas City coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “It was just a good opportunity to come and play some college teams here and go and watch the game.”
All over both complexes Saturday, there were plenty of schedule oddities that weren’t just related to the national team game.
Ursuline beat MICDS 3-0 in one of the 7:30 a.m. games and then made a quick turnaround to play at 11 a.m. and beat Glendale 3-1.
Abby Basler had two goals and one assist for Ursuline (4-0), the No. 6 team in the STLhighschoolsports.com large-school rankings, and four other players scored one goal each on the demanding and successful day.
“When they walked up (Saturday), the energy was amazing,” Ursuline coach Annie Beekman said. “You wouldn’t know it was 7:30 in the morning in the Ursuline world because they were ready to go.”
Ursuline couldn’t play on the opening day of the Showcase because of Good Friday, bringing about its two games in less than six hours Saturday. Beekman said her team was equipped for the demand because of its depth.
MICDS played in Friday’s last wave of games with 7 p.m. kickoffs because of another school function earlier in the day, and then had to make a quick turnaround for the early kickoff against the Bears.
Rams coach Michael Black said it wasn’t ideal, but didn’t complain about the three-goal loss — his team’s first setback of the season.
“We don’t want to win every game and not be ready at the end of the year,” Black said.
Opponents at 7:30 a.m., many players from Ursuline and MICDS ended up in the same place about eight hours later.
They were in the same stadium where FC Kansas City players cheered their teammates who were starring for the U.S. national team — including Ladue High graduate Becky Sauerbrunn.
NWSL rival Chicago also was cheering for a player from St. Louis — Nerinx Hall product Lori Chalupny, who scored the second U.S. goal against New Zealand.
The destination was a common bond for just about everybody involved. Coaches, parents, players. Whoever. It’s why they didn’t mind playing two games over a handful of hours, or waking up before sunrise to board a bus from destinations all over the area.
Holt coach Greg Schroeder, after his team lost its first three games by a combined 10-0, saw his squad battle through the early, early moments Saturday to pull out its third win in four games. And then hurried to head east.
“With the women's national team here, a lot of girls have tickets, so we’re excited to get our game out of the way early,” Schroeder said.
Those Holt players, perhaps ironically, didn’t include Taouil. The team’s hero on the day, Taouil had plans other than joining her teammates and more than 35,000 to watch a soccer game.
She had to go play a club softball game, instead.