National Division II soccer event on tap in Evans

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After a two-and-a-half year wait, everything is in place for today’s start to the NCAA Division II Final Four soccer tournament in Evans.

The weather is ideal, the championship field is perfect and all bits of housekeeping are complete. The last issue was taken care of Wednesday when the NCAA signs were received.

“It’s been a labor of love,” said Peach Belt Conference commissioner Dave Brunk, who helped bring in the event. “It’s hard to believe it’s here.”

Seven teams from the United States and one from Canada (Simon Fraser) are vying for the top prize in Division II college soccer.

The men’s winners will advance to play in the national title game at noon Saturday, while the women’s championship contest will be held at 3.

In June 2010, Peach Belt and Columbia County officials held a news conference announcing the arrival of the Final Four event, which will also be held here in 2013.

Since then, the county made several improvements to Blanchard Woods Park, adding locker rooms to the facility and upgrading the lights and the fields (championship and practice).

“Columbia County really stepped it up,” Brunk said. “It’s been helpful. We’ve been able to work together the past five years with the Peach Belt Championships. They’re excited and looking forward to the event and we are as well.”

Now, Brunk said, the final piece to the puzzle is getting support from the local soccer community as well as the general public.

“We don’t want to put in all this time and effort and not have anyone come out,” Brunk said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to able to get the people to come out and support the soccer. There really are some great teams.”

DIVISION II FINAL FOUR

WHERE: Blanchard Woods Park, Evans

WHEN: Today and Saturday

COST: $10 adults, $5 seniors, students and military with ID. Children two and under free.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE: MEN–Lynn (17-3-1) vs. Mercyhurst (17-5-1), 11 a.m.; Simon Fraser (19-1-1) vs. Saginaw Valley State (17-2-4), 2 p.m.

WOMEN–Grand Valley State (20-1-3) vs. UC San Diego (16-2-4), 5; West Florida (22-1) vs. Saint Rose (20-2-2), 8


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