Nike Palmetto Cup high school soccer tournament begins Tuesday

Special to ColaDaily 

The Nike Palmetto Cup has undergone quite an evolution.

The tournament started in 1993 as the Brookland-Cayce Classic by co-founder and former Bearcats’ head coach Kevin Heise and his brother Kyle.
In 2002, it became the Palmetto Cup.
For six years, the tournament has been recognized as the NIKE Palmetto Cup to reflect the sponsorship from the sneaker company.
During this time, the event took place at both Airport and the old and new Brookland-Cayce football fields.

Regardless of the changes, the NIKE Palmetto Cup continues to earn praise as one of the premier boys’ high school soccer tournament in the country.
Latest changes

The latest NIKE Palmetto Cup takes place Tuesday through Thursday. Among the 18 teams competing for the boys’ title are Lexington, Swansea, Gray Collegiate and Gilbert, as well as SCISA powerhouse Cardinal Newman and S.C. High School League ranked teams such as Clover and A.C. Flora.

“The majority of our players understand the nature of the beast in regards to the level of play required to be successful in the Palmetto Cup,” said Heise about his team.
“I think the players are eager to see how they match up over 4-5 games against quality competition and hopefully a shot at the semifinals/finals this year.

“Cardinal Newman (which defeated Dutch Fork 2-0 this past Sunday to win the Airport Select Invitational in West Columbia), Clover, Blythewood, Lexington, A.C. Flora are all top-tier teams this year that will battle at the NPC. Throw in solid out-of-state sides in Indian River (Chesapeake, Va.) and Lakeside (Evans, Ga.) and the tourney has a bevy of contenders.”
Heise’s Gray Collegiate War Eagles enter the tournament with a 13-1 overall record. They suffered their first loss of the season last weekend to Oceanside Collegiate 3-2 in the inaugural Pinnacle Shield held at Charleston Southern University.

There are a couple of significant changes to this year’s NIKE Palmetto Cup. The biggest is the move from the Cayce/West Columbia area to Saluda Shoals Athletic Park off St. Andrews Road.
According to Cup co-founder and Gray Collegiate boys’ soccer coach Kevin Heise, it’s a venue that “can” absolutely live up to the event’s tradition.
“The Saluda Shoals Soccer Complex is a first-rate facility that is beautifully maintained,” Heise said. “The central location is close to many nearby restaurants and Harbison (Boulevard) makes it an ideal location for teams traveling to the area.

“Being able to play six matches simultaneously is a tremendous advantage which has allowed us to condense the tourney from a four-day marathon to a more traditional two-day event with the final on the third day. Also, the facility will allow us to expand the tournament in the future on both the boys and girls sides.”
In addition to the 18-team boys’ field, a 6-team girls’ tournament will take place for the first time. Gray Collegiate, A.C. Flora, Hartsville, Nation Ford, Providence Athletic Club and York Prep are the participating teams.

The Lady War Eagles are coming off 2-1 (9-8 in penalty kicks) OT win over Oceanside Collegiate.
“We are very excited about the addition of the girls bracket in the Palmetto Cup,” Heise said. “Long recognized as one of the top boys’ tournaments in the Southeast, we aim to equal that expectation on the female side in the very near future. Plans are already being made for future NPCs to include a much larger girls bracket. We only decided to add the girls’ bracket in earnest this past fall and are happy with the direction it is heading.”

Keep up with the 3-day event by visiting


Tuesday, April 3

9 am – Girls – A.C. Flora vs. Nation Ford, Field 4
9 am – Girls – Gray Collegiate vs. Hartsville, Field 5
9 am – Girls – Providence Athletic Club vs. York Prep, Field 6

11 am – Boys – A.C. Flora vs. Newberry, Field 1
11 am – Boys – Cardinal Newman vs. Lakeside-GA, Field 2
11 am – Boys – Hanahan vs. Gilbert, Field 3
11 am – Boys – Lexington vs. Swansea, Field 4
11 am – Boys – Gray Collegiate vs. Ridge View, Field 5
11 am – Boys – Blythewood vs. Clover, Field 6

1 pm – Boys – Gaffney vs. Eau Claire, Field 1
1 pm – Boys – Battery Creek vs. Indian River-VA, Field 2
1 pm – Boys – T.L. Hanna vs. Hartsville, Field 3

3 pm – Girls – Hartsville vs. Providence Athletic Club, Field 4
3 pm – Girls – Nation Ford vs. Gray Collegiate, Field 5
3 pm – Girls – York Prep vs. A.C. Flora, Field 6

5 pm – Boys – Newberry vs. Gaffney, Field 1
5 pm – Boys – Eau Claire vs. A.C. Flora, Field 2
5 pm – Boys – Swansea vs. Battery Creek, Field 3

7 pm – Boys – Ridge View vs. T.L. Hanna, Field 1
7 pm – Boys – Lakeside-GA vs. Clover, Field 2
7 pm – Boys –  Hanahan vs. Cardinal Newman, Field 3
7 pm – Boys – Gilbert vs. Blythewood, Field 4
7 pm – Boys – Hartsville vs. Gray Collegiate, Field 5
7 pm – Boys – Indian River-VA vs. Lexington, Field 6

Wednesday, April 4

9 am – Boys – Newberry vs. Eau Claire, Field 1
9 am – Boys – A.C. Flora vs. Gaffney, Field 2
9 am – Boys – Lexington vs. Battery Creek, Field 6
9 am – Girls – Hartsville vs. Nation Ford, Field 3
9 am – Girls – A.C. Flora vs. Providence Athletic Club, Field 4
9 am – Girls – Gray Collegiate vs. York Prep, Field 5

11 am – Boys – Clover vs. Gilbert, Field 1
11 am – Boys – Blythewood vs. Cardinal Newman, Field 2
11 am – Boys – Lakeside-GA vs. Hanahan, Field 3
11 am – Boys – Swansea vs. Indian River-VA, Field 4
11 am – Boys – T.L. Hanna vs. Gray Collegiate, Field 5
11 am – Boys – Hartsville vs. Ridge View, Field 6

3 pm – Boys – #17-18, Field 1
3 pm – Boys – #13-16, Field 2
3 pm – Boys – #13-16, Field 3
3 pm – Girls – 3rd Place Match, Field 5
3 pm – GIrls – 5th Place Match, Field 6

5 pm – Boys – #9-12, Field 3
5 pm – Boys – #9-12, Field 4
5 pm – Boys – #5-8, Field 5
5 pm – Boys – #5-8, Field 6

7 pm – Boys – Semifinals, Field 3
7 pm – Boys – Semifinals, Field 4
7 pm – Girls – Championship, Field 5

Thursday, April 5

11 am – Boys – Championship, Field 5

Tournament Format

All teams are guaranteed four matches (provided weather cooperative).

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