NORTH ADAMS -- The 11th annual CIAO Berkshire Soccer Classic will have a bigger North Berkshire flair than usual next weekend.
For the first time, the Saturday doubleheader will become a tripleheader involving the MCLA men's and women's soccer teams. Two of the three visiting men's teams have local connections, and MCLA men's coach Adam Hildabrand said the play on the pitch should be good.
"From a competitive standpoint, it's extremely high [with] Curry College, Castleton State College and Union College," Hildabrand said. "The cool thing is that Curry has [coach] Peter Mendel, who is in the CIAO Hall of Fame, a Hoosac Valley grad. We'll be playing Curry on Saturday and Castleton [on Sunday].
"It's a great [series of] in-region opponents at home."
Castleton's roster includes former Drury soccer standout Jake Tietgens, who scored four goals last year for the Spartans.
The Trailblazers will play Curry in the 11:30 a.m. first game, and Castleton will meet Union at 1:30 p.m. On Sunday, MCLA will play Castleton at noon, with Union facing Curry at 2 p.m.
This year, coach Deb Raber's MCLA women will also be involved. MCLA will play Smith College on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. to wrap up a soccer tripleheader.
"I think it's great" to be involved in the CIAO tournament, Raber said. "I'm not a big tournament person, so I don't like playing back-to-back. But I love how they've included the women in this.
"We were home two years ago and we just couldn't make it happen.
Tickets for the tournament are $3 for adults each day and $2 for students.
"We haven't raised the gate price ever," CIAO's Al Belanger said.
In 10 years, CIAO has awarded $114,000 in scholarships to Berkshire County high school soccer players to be used on their college tuitions. The organization might not have been able to do that without the tournament as part of its fund raising efforts.
"It's extremely valuable because it gives us a jump start on our scholarship [fundraising]," said Belanger.
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