GREENSBORO — When Clinton High School men’s soccer coach Brad Spell got a call last summer from the North Carolina Coaches Association telling him that he had been chosen to coach the East squad in the 25th annual East/West All-Star Soccer match, he thought they were pulling his leg. It turned out that the call was the real deal and on Tuesday night in Greensboro’s McPherson Stadium, Spell led a team of all-stars from the east to an impressive 2-1 win over a very talented West team.
On top of the honor of being chosen by his peers to coach the game, Spell had the privilege of coaching one of his own players, 2016 Clinton High School graduate Spell Carr.
“It was a great honor to coach in this game, but being able to have one of our own players on the team made it even more memorable,” Spell commented. “Spell (Carr) had such a great career in high school and being chosen for this match was a well deserved honor.”
Coach Spell had three days to put the all-star team through practices prior to playing the match. The coach commented on the pre-game preparations saying, “we came in the first day and went right to work, I think they were a little shocked at the organization, but we wanted to let them know that we expected them to take it seriously, have fun and do their best to win the match.” Spell was also impressed with the way the players come together so quickly as a unit, “these guys all know each other, they have played with and against each other for many years. Players from both sides know each other and just getting to hang out with both teams was a great experience.”
The East squad wasted little time taking control of the game as Clinton’s Spell Carr sent a pass into the box that was quickly fired into the goal by Wesley Nelson from E A Laney High School to give the East a 1-0 advantage in the first minute of the match. Shortly after the first goal the match was delayed for 45 minutes by lightning in the area at the 34:29 mark as both teams were sent to the locker room.
When play resumed the West team seemed to take a more aggressive tact and eventually got the equalizer when Nicolas Lugo of Southwest Guilford took a pass from East Mecklenburg’s Charles Basse to knot the match at 1-1 with 15:44 remaining in the first frame. The East regained the momentum and the lead at the 5:46 mark of the half when eventual game Most Valuable Player Pedro Segundo, from Corinth Holders High School blasted a low grounder from 22 yards out to give the East a 2-1 lead that the West squad would never overcome.
The teams played fairly evenly for the final 35 minutes of the match with neither team able to find pay dirt. Spell Carr came as close as anyone to scoring when he banged a late game shot off the right post on a beautiful shot from the wing.
As the final seconds expired and the West last ditch effort to score failed, Coach Spell quietly watched as the players celebrated their win. The coach reflected on the most memorable parts of the experience saying, “I learned so much the last three days especially from West coach Lynn Massey from Bartlett Yancy. The opportunity to talk with him about his program and also learn about what other schools do from the players is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I was so fortunate to experience.”
After the game Spell Carr commented on his experience at the All-Star Game, “I have been playing soccer for a longtime and have known a lot of the players on both sides for a long time. It was really special to get to come together with them and play in this game.” Carr also spoke about the challenges of putting together a team in three practices adding, “It was definitely tough but we had great chemistry really quickly. We worked on a couple of things in particular but coach Spell tried to keep it fairly simple. It was just a lot of fun being here.” Like Coach Spell, when questioned about his most memorable experience of the long weekend Carr said, “just playing in the game and having the chance to compete with and against such a great group of guys is a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget.”
As coach Spell headed off the field a contingent of his players surprised him with the traditional Gatorade bath. The display of affection for the coach was a testament to the team chemistry that Spell Carr spoke of and quite possibly was the final reminder that the phone call last summer was no joke at all.