Action during the 2011 edition of the Basie Cup girls’ game, which ended in a tie after overtime. (Click to enlarge)

Red Bank Charter School Intern

Bright lights and an anxious crowd. Players overwhelmed with pressure, almost wishing it was over before it starts,  but thinking about the rush of victory and the accolades that follow.

Game on.

This is what it feels like for players competing in the Count Basie Cup, the annual pair of soccer games that pit teams from the Red Bank Charter and Red Bank Middle schools, and take place under the lights tonight at Count Basie Fields.

Players are excited about the game, which many of them consider the biggest of the season, and a stunning trophy and a year’s worth of bragging rights at stake.

“They’re our rivals, but our friends at the same time” says Amanda Annaruma, an offensive player for the charter school’s Blue Storm. “It’s always a good game.”

“This is my last year in the middle school , so it feels great to participate in this event,” said Bijou Jackson, a new player and goalie on the middle school girls’ team, known as the Rockets. “I just hope the best for my team as well as the charter school.”

Coaches for both schools, who have been pushing their teams to play their best, are eager to see the outcome.

“This is a really big game, and I know the girls can’t wait,” said Alison Wheeler, coach for the charter girls’ team says. “We wish everyone the best.”

Both teams showed an exceptional amount of effort and skill last year, and were equally matched. The girls’ game ended in a zero-zero tie after an overtime. The boys’ game went in the favor of  the charter School, 3 to 1.

Despite the win last year, George Gosden of the charter school boys’ team isn’t so sure about this year.

“I get really really nervous,” he admits. “I always feel like I’m not going to do good, but I still have a lot of fun.”

This year’s game promises to be a good one. There are some new players on both teams, and it should be exciting to see how players from last year have improved their game.

The girls’ teams will play first at 5:30 p.m., and then the boys will play at 7 p.m. Both games are to be played rain or shine except in case of lightning. Food and drinks will be available for purchase at the concession stand, with proceeds going this year to the middle school – the schools alternate each year.

Charter school cheerleaders will be present to keep everyone cheering on. There is no entry fee, so bring everyone you know.