High school soccer nirvana is here again, in the form of the Garces Holiday Soccer Festival, which this year contains 129 boys and girls teams in 17 divisions.
Teams will play one game today and two on Saturday, with the Kern County Soccer Park (on Alfred Harrell Highway) and the State Farm Sports Village (on Ashe Road between Panama Lane and Taft Highway) hosting most of the action. Championship matches in the top divisions are scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Soccer Park.
The Elite-8 Divisions are the most prestigious for both boys and girls, and both contain several of the Central Section and Southern Section's best teams.
Elite-8 quarterfinals on the boys side this afternoon are: Clovis West vs. South Gate-South East, Liberty vs. Santa Maria-Pioneer Valley, Golden Valley vs. South Gate and Centennial vs. Clovis-Buchanan. Buchanan beat Liberty for the Division I Central Section title last year; Golden Valley lost in the Division II championship.
For the girls, Elite-8 quarterfinals are: Centennial vs. West Hills-Chaminade, Clovis West vs. Tulare Union, Fresno-Central vs. Stockdale and Clovis North vs. Liberty. Absent is Clovis-Buchanan, which has won four of the past five Central Section titles; Stockdale, which has been section runner-up in three of those instances, could face defending D-II champion Clovis North in Saturday morning's semifinals.
For complete brackets and game locations, visit garces.org. There is a $5 parking fee at the Soccer Park and an admission fee at some of the high school sites there is no fee for games at the State Farm Sports Village.