Some of the finest senior soccer players in the area will meet tonight in a game that was designed to be a fun ending to the high school season.
Just don't tell Class 3A player of the year Mike McIlwain that.
"I guess it's supposed to be for fun, but we know it's for bragging rights," said the Berkeley Prep forward, who led his team to its second consecutive state title. "We are not taking this lightly, we want to win. They are the best in Pinellas, and we are the best in Hillsborough. Now, we'll see who the best is."
McIlwain, who orally committed to Maryland Friday, leads a talented Hillsborough boys squad that features nine other first-team all-state players. Six of the remaining nine were named honorable mention and all were nominated for the all-state team. McIlwain's teammate, all-state stopper Joe Marshburn, will not play in the game because of a nagging back injury. Marshburn is also strongly considering Maryland and will make his decision next week after visiting the University of South Florida.
The boys game will follow a similar contest between the best senior girls players from both counties. Pinellas, who features three all-state players in Julie Schramek and Angela Brames of Lakewood and Teri Moreno of Countryside is favored in the match despite the absence of Florida's all-time leading scorer, Robin Confer, who is trying out for the under-19 national team. Hillsborough is led by Berkeley Prep's Amamda Gauthier, a 3A all-state honorable mention.
The games will take place at the University of Tampa's Pepin/Rood Stadium. The girls kick off at 6 p.m. with the boys to follow at 8.