HELENA — Montana’s top soccer athletes will gather in Helena this weekend as part of the 20th Annual Shodair Soccer Classic held at Carroll College.
Players invited to the Classic must have been All-State and/or All-Conference selections in class A or class AA high schools and demonstrate academic achievement, leadership and citizenship.
I’m really looking forward to the game,” Bozeman’s Jack Bentson said. “It’ll be fun to team up with all the guys that I’m used to playing against.”
The Shodair Soccer Classic began in 2000 with the thought to bring the best newly graduated high school soccer players in the state of Montana all together and give back to the community.
“The whole concept is that these are some of the most successful kids in the state and some of the strongest athletes in the state, and now we can showcase them doing something for kids who struggle throughout Montana,” said Shodair Children Hospital’s Director of Government Relations, Ellen Livers.
The event features a kid’s soccer clinic at Nelson Stadium on Friday morning, followed by the boys and girls high school soccer games on Saturday.
And there is no doubt that the players are itching to get back onto the pitch one more time with their high school teammates.
“It’s a good way to end my high school career,” Bentson said.
The boys game features Bentson alongside Billings West midfielder and Class AA all-state forward Hayden Bentzel on the East team. Their teammates include two-time all-state forward Caleb Borgstrom and Belgrade’s goalkeeper Luke Turner. Throughout his four years with the Panthers, Turner has accumulated the Montana State record for more career shutouts and won two class A state titles.
The West team will also feature some players that have received hardware, such as forward Matthew Baldridge, who won the 2016-17 and 2017-18 Gatorade Player of the Year award. His teammates include Flathead's all-conference defender Walt Hollensteiner and Helena High School’s Aidan Morris, Cameron Wilcox, Treven Maharg and Ben Ries-Roncalli.
The girls game will also feature an east versus west matchup as the Billings duo of Senior midfielder Sarah Maynard and West forward Melissa Dugger leads the east team against the Helena tandem of Helena High’s Grace Lawlor and Capital’s Isabelle Melton.
At the conclusion of each game, two $1,000 scholarships will be given to the most valuable player.
Shodair Children’s Hospital takes care of kids who suffer from depression, suicidal thoughts and bipolar disorders. Last year the hospital admitted 1,400 patients.
While the clinic and players participating in the all-star game are free, proceeds from sponsoring the event go to support the philanthropic efforts at Shodair Hospital.
This event has gone on for the last 20 years at Carroll College, and Livers said she is excited to see where it will head over the next decade.
“We always want to continue to grow this event and raise awareness for Shodair,” Livers said.
The girls game will kick off at 1 p.m. and the boys game will start right after the conclusion, around 3 p.m.