It doesn’t happen very often, but Visalia and Tulare soccer players will step onto the pitch as teammates for at least one night.
The 5th annual Tulare/Kings County All-Star boys and girls soccer games set up the rosters, allowing Visalia and Tulare to play together instead of against each other, which is usually the case in all-star games featuring schools from Tulare and Kings counties.
Tulare Western boys soccer coach Michael Capote likes the idea and hopes it will translate into a victory for his West squad.
“I really like the formula,” Capote said. “Based on the fact that we can put guys together that always competed against each other, now they have the luxury of playing together. Last year, they were split up, but it is fun for kids to play with guys who were their nemesis for the last four years.”
The girls game will be at 6 p.m. and will be followed by the boys game at 8 p.m. tonight at Lindsay High School.
The West is comprised of players from Tulare Union, Tulare Western, Mission Oak, El Diamante, Mt. Whitney, Golden West, Redwood, Central Valley Christian, Lemoore, Hanford, Hanford West, Corcoran and Sierra Pacific.
The East is made up of players from Dinuba, Orosi, Orange Cove, Woodlake, Farmersville, Exeter, Lindsay, Strathmore, Monache, Porterville, Granite Hills, Delano, Cesar Chavez, and Robert F. Kennedy.
At first glance at the boys rosters, it would appear as if the East had an advantage over the West.
The East does feature Central Section championship teams in Farmersville (Division VI) and Orosi (Division V), and Division II runner-up Monache.
But the West has one player the East does not — Joey Chica — the reigning Times-Delta/Advance-Register Tulare County boys soccer player of the year.
“They’re a good team,” Chica said about the East squad. “But I know we have a group of all-stars that can put a great team together and come out and win this game.”
Chica said he likes the way the teams are split up and is excited about testing his skills against some of the top talent in Tulare and Kings counties.
“I know there’s a lot of talent here, that’s why they got chosen to play in the game,” Chica said. “I think that we will both compete and it will be a good game.”
Chica and Capote both agreed that the games should be very exciting for local soccer fans.
The soccer field at Lindsay High School is made up of artificial grass and is wider than most other fields in the area, allowing for a faster, more wide open game.
“It is going to be a better game,” Chica said. “We get to play in the wide open field and we’ll try to get the wings to get more crosses for the forwards to finish. A lot of people would love to play on this field.”
The all-star soccer games are usually played on Saturday night, but were moved to Friday because of the 46th annual Tulare/Kings County All-Star football game, which will be at 8 p.m. Saturday at Bob Mathias Stadium in Tulare.
Lindsay should be a busy place Friday night with the weekly flea market taking place across town.
“This is a great setting,” Capote said. “Every year has had a good atmosphere. The stands are packed and it is great for the kids. And lately, the games have been good. It draws a good crowd every year.”