GREENSBORO — On Tuesday night at McPherson Stadium on Greensboro, people had the chance to see future college soccer stars. Since 1992, the East-West soccer game has been a staple for the future soccer stars of North Carolina. The East versus West soccer games always draw a crowd, but this year was special as Forbush defender Paige Keaton got the call up for the West side.
As a senior, Keaton was named All-State, All-Region, and All-Conference. She scored six goals and had six assists, she was also a two-time NCHSAA 2A state soccer runner-up. In 2015, Keaton was awarded the NCHSAA Sportsmanship Award. Her impressive career at Forbush may be coming to an end, but her soccer career will continue as she will attend Catawba College in the fall where she plans to major in nursing. Along with being called up to the all-star game, Keaton was given an Academic Achievement award for having a GPA above 3.0.
“It was awesome, and it was such a blessing to come out here and play,” said Keaton. “It was an honor just to be nominated.”
Keaton wasn’t the only person representing Forbush, as Forbush Head Coach Kenan James was at the helm for the West side. While at Forbush, James has compiled an impressive career record of 317-78-20. His teams have won eight conference regular season titles, made 15 state playoff appearances, won five western regional 2A titles, and made it to the state championship five times. James has been named Conference Coach of the Year and Regional Coach of the Year, six times. He also has been named State Coach of the Year, twice.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be selected to coach the West team,” said James. “I feel very blessed to participate.”
The East side took a 2-1 victory over the West, but it didn’t diminish the spirit and the magnitude of the game. In the first half, West had 13 shots on goal but couldn’t seem to find the back of the net. Midfielder Ashley Johnson had four shots for the West side, while Keaton and Ellen Harris had one shot a piece. In the 20th minute, East found a breakaway that had the team charging towards the West goal. Keaton was the lone defender who made one stop before being beat by Lily Schneider.
West Stokes’ Liz Nail was the keeper for the West side, and she came up big as she made three great saves in a row with various parts of her body to stop Schneider from scoring. The joy from Nail’s saves didn’t last long, as the 24th minute rolled around East found itself with its second corner kick of the night. As the ball was coming off the corner from Kate Spaid, East’s Bailey Edwards put her head on the ball to score the first goal of the night.
“We had a lot of opportunities in the first half that we couldn’t finish,” said James. “But I have to give credit to their goalkeepers for making some great saves. [The East] also set the tone for the rest of the half by scoring on a corner kick.”
In the second half, East turned up the heat as it controlled a majority of possession. In the 58th minute, East’s Lily Schneider found the back of the net from the middle of the box after Cristina Galvan crossed the ball towards goal. Although the West was down 2-0, it fought back as Debbie Killian scored the lone goal for the West in the 63rd minute. As the final whistle blew, West had fallen 2-1 to the East.
“I told the girls that they are already all-stars no matter if we win or lose,” said James. “I just wanted to make it a memorable experience for them.”
Kristian Russell can be reached at 336.258.4052 or on Twitter @YadkinElkSports.