OC Gears Up for St. Pat’s Tourney

OCEAN CITY- The Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department’s annual St. Patrick’s Soccer Tournament turns 20 this year with 150 teams and hundreds of players from all over the mid-Atlantic region expected to converge on the resort for the three-weekend event.

From modest beginnings 20 years ago when competition was held in just four divisions, the annual St. Patrick’s Tournament has grown by leaps and bounds over the years and is now one of the largest events of its kind. The 2008 tournament will host 150 teams competing in 12 divisions and will be held over three weekends beginning February 29. Teams from Baltimore, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia will travel to the resort to compete against some of the best youth soccer programs on the Eastern Shore.

The event kicks off with the under-10 and under-14 divisions competing on the first weekend, February 29-March 2. The under-18 and adult divisions will play on the weekend of March 7-9, while the under-12 and under 16 divisions will play from March 14-16. With games held night and day at Northside Park, Ocean City Recreation Supervisor Rod Dulany said the growing tournament has become difficult to manage, but predicted another smooth event this year.

“It is definitely a busy couple of weeks at Northside Park,” he said. “But when it is all said and done, and you see the satisfaction and the enjoyment on the faces of the players who have been participating in the tournament year after year, it makes all of the mayhem and madness well worth it.”