CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Hurricane Sandy pushed this weekend's high school state soccer tournament into overtime.The West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission postponed the event Tuesday morning after remnants of the superstorm blanketed the state with snow. The state tournament was scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the YMCA Youth Sports Complex in Beckley, which received 16 inches of snow Tuesday.The semifinals will now take place Tuesday, Nov. 6 with the championships Wednesday, Nov. 7 at the same site. The Cline and Carter Fields where the Class AAA and AA-A boys and girls games are held, respectively, are grass surfaces. (See Page 2B for pairings and schedule.)"The field conditions were just at the point where we couldn't do it,'' said SSAC executive director Gary Ray. "Right now we feel, and looking into next week, that we could avoid a day out of school by playing Tuesday and Wednesday.'' Ray acknowledged that it could be difficult for those traveling from afar to vote on Election Day. Parents, students and fans traveling from schools such as Buckhannon-Upshur and Hedgesville will most likely arrive in Beckley on Monday, which could throw a wrench into their voting plans if they haven't already cast their ballots."The thing is we're looking at the students not missing any school,'' said Ray. "We try to avoid as much missed school time as possible. It's tough to avoid every conflict. I won't be [in Parkersburg] to vote either. I'll take care of that matter myself.''Thousands were without power across West Virginia on Tuesday and Kanawha and Putnam County schools were closed. Beckley had a blizzard warning in effect until today."This is a very unusual situation with the weather we're experiencing now,'' Ray said. "Families and school districts have more to think about now than getting kids to a state tournament. At this time we have to do what's in the best interest of the student-athletes, their families and the member schools.''
Weather forecasters are calling for temperatures to rise into the 40s in Beckley over the weekend with partly sunny skies. The long-range forecast for next Tuesday and Wednesday is temperatures in the 50s with partly sunny skies."The folks in Beckley feel pretty confident, if the forecast holds true, that they could get the field ready for next Tuesday and Wednesday,'' Ray said.Ray said the state tournament fields will be re-evaluated this weekend and he wouldn't rule out moving the tourney again if playing conditions aren't favorable."I'm not going to say it wouldn't happen,'' he said. "I'm not saying we would not have to look at that. We'll evaluate it as we move into the weekend. We're not sure how fast the snow's going to leave.''
The delay means state-bound teams will have a few more days of anxious practice if any at all. When the state tournament begins Tuesday, nearly two weeks will have passed since schools played their last game in regionals, which were held Oct. 23 and Oct. 25. "I know some of the places the teams are coming from are really having bad weather and bad situations,'' said Hurricane boys coach Jim Dagostine, whose Redskins are No. 1 in AAA. "I just hope everybody's families are OK. Everybody's dealing with the same thing."Everybody has a few players that could use a couple of days off. We're going to meet and go over some scouting stuff. I'm not big on doing anything indoors. We're going to treat it like a weekend and practice Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday and go play.''
The layoff is a Catch-22 for George Washington first-year girls coach Derek Ragle."The positive I see in it is we may get Kasey Rhodes back, who is an injured starter for us,'' he said. "Ideally, the longer the layoff I think the more rusty the girls will get."You can only simulate so much in practice. You need game situations. It's like you're back at the beginning of the season. I'm just worried about the girls losing touch on the ball. We'll make do.''Ray said he could only remember one other state event that was moved."I think years ago they moved the state track meet up a week because of some kind of situation,'' he said. "It's one of those unusual situations that don't come around very often and you have to deal with it.''Reach Tommy R.Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.