For one last time, the area’s top soccer players will take the field to compete with and against one another. The 28th annual Missouri Athletic Club Senior All-Star high school soccer game will take place Saturday at the renovated Anheuser-Busch Center. The girls all-star game kicks off at 6 p.m. The boys will start just after 8 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students. It costs $2 to park.
The MAC game is, like most things soccer in St. Louis, a hallowed tradition. The game has seen many of its participants go on to be college standouts and then have professional careers. Some of the players eventually work their way back into the game as coaches.
Cor Jesu coach Melissa Bruno played in the MAC game in 2001 after a dominating career at Ursuline. After guiding the Chargers to the Class 3 state title this spring, she’ll be on the girls South sideline as the head coach. The only thing is, she doesn’t plan on doing much coaching.
“It’ll be a lighthearted bench,” Bruno says.
Instead, her plan is to let the girls go out and play. It’s a unique experience for the players, one Bruno remembers fondly even after a standout career at Mizzou.
“It was so much fun to play with girls you battled against for four years,” she says. “It was an honor to be chosen.”
The hardest part of Bruno’s job will be giving everyone plenty of playing time. When you’re coaching an all-star team, there is an abundance of talent to go around.
“I’m going to have girls on the bench that have never seen the bench before,” Bruno says.
One of the girls who will suit up for Bruno is Jenn Miller, the Post- Dispatch All-Metro Player of the Year and a standout midfielder for Cor Jesu. Miller says getting tabbed to take part in this game is significant.
“I guess the main reason is just that I think it’s a great honor to be nominated for it and to be able to represent Cor Jesu one more time,” Miller says. “I’m also looking forward to being able to play with my club teammates in a high school setting. I think it’ll be really fun.”
As much fun as the games are, they have been a bit lopsided lately, especially on the boys side. The teams are split into the North and South with Interstate 64 acting as the dividing line. The North boys team owns the South with a 19-5-4 record. The girls are closer as the South leads 12-11-4. The last two years the North has outscored the South 18-4. The South boys haven’t beaten the North since 2001.
Which, it just so happens, was the last time Oakville coach Dave Robben coached the South. Robben is back on the South sideline this year after his Oakville boys lost to De Smet in the Class 3 title game last fall. Robben would like to see a competitive game but, more than anything, wants the players to enjoy themselves.
“It’s a good conclusion to the season,” he says. “The kids enjoy it and that’s what it’s for.”