Greenbrier boys soccer coach Graeme Connolly is always looking to challenge his team. The Wolfpack will face several tests this week in its popular event at Blanchard Woods Park.
Greenbrier is holding the third annual TaxSlayer Border Classic Soccer Invitational, Thursday through Saturday. Thirty-four high school varsity teams (18 boys, 16 girls) from Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee will play in the tournament, including several defending state champions.
The Wolfpack will try to win its third consecutive Border Classic championship. Greenbrier is off to a 6-1 start (6-0 region play) this year.
"We're always trying to do things during the season to try to get ready for what we hope is a run in the state playoffs," Connolly said. "The quality of opposition we'll have for the tournament should be similar to the teams we'll have from the last 16 onward (in the state playoffs). At least, it'll give us a sense of where we're at.
"The most important thing is we learn from the experience and are ready when it truly matters later in the season."
The tournament, which starts at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, will consist of 59 games during the three-day event. Tickets are $7 per day and tickets for children 10 and under are $1.
The girls championship will be held at 3:40 p.m. on the stadium field, while the boys championship will follow at 5:30. For full schedule information, go to http://soccer.sincsports.com/TTContent.aspx?tid=RBCLAS&tab=1
On the boys side, Lakeside, Grovetown and Westminster are in the eight-team Group A, while Greenbrier is in the four-team Group B with Oak Ridge (Tenn.), Walton and Columbus. In the six-team Group C, Aquinas, Augusta Christian, Augusta Prep and Evans are the local teams.
On the girls side, Augusta Prep, Greenbrier, Lakeside and Westminster represent half of Group A. In Group B, Aquinas, Augusta Christian and Evans represent the local teams in the eight-team pool.
The Greenbrier boys are looking to recapture its magic from a season ago when they defeated Hoover (Ala.) on penalty kicks in the championship contest. The Wolfpack received a taste of top-notch soccer a few weeks ago when they lost 6-1 to a J.L. Mann squad that featured seven Division I signees in their starting lineup. Greenbrier has zero senior starters among its starters.
"Aside from the Dalton game a few years ago, that's the only time we've let in that many goals since myself and coach (Tony) Cummings have taken over," Connolly said. "They were clearly better than us. That was a great education for us."