PILOT MOUNTAIN — East Surry got its first look at the 2013 soccer team as the current Cardinals took on past players in the annual alumni game.
The Cards beat their predecessors 5-1, but the game was more about sharing a deep affection for the game.
“These alumni are a bunch of great guys and girls who absolutely love each other,” said Coach Bill Hart. “Relationships don’t just end at graduation.”
He looked around the field and saw several former students there cheering on the teams, including Jackie Holshouser and Kyle Shinault who are heading back to N.C. State this week.
Several of them are going back to school, so this was a great chance to get back together before they go, said Hart.
For much of the game, the two teams were tied 1-1, then sophomore Brayan Gomez broke the tie with a ball down the center of the defense.
The Cards scored three more goals later in the game when players were fatigued.
Possibly the highlight of the day was when alumnus Trevor Simmons donned the keeper’s jersey. On a corner kick to the goal, Simmons leaped into the air, snatched the ball and took off running up the field.
He dribbled the ball up to midfield before running over a defender, drawing a whistle from the referee and laughter from the crowd.
While the game was an all-male event last year, Panayiota Boutis played for the alumni and more than held her own.
As she faked out a defender and dribbled by, younger brother Souli Boutis exclaimed proudly, “She’s schooling everybody out there.”
Speaking of his current players, Hart bragged on the play of senior Jimmy Speer.
“Jimmy is going to be a cornerstone of the defense,” he said. “We are going to be as successful as Jimmy makes us.” As the stopper, Speer has the ability to control the other team’s attack, said the coach.
“Antonio Mata has made a lot of strides,” Hart said. The junior is pushing for a starting spot at the center mid position.
Andrew Kozlow is very valuable in a utility role, Hart said, pointing out that the junior played four different spots in this game.
“He’s a guy you can stick anywhere and know the job will get done,” he said.
Hart introduced a new assistant coach, Andrew Jones. After East Surry, Jones graduated from N.C. State and has agreed to help the team, said Hart. Andrew’s father, Gordon Jones, was the first-ever soccer coach at East Surry.
Jones will be really great to provide that bridge between the program of the past and today, the coach said.
What people have to remember is that these alumni were playing soccer when it wasn’t fashionable, Hart recalled. The team suffered through seasons with double-digit losses, but blazed the trail for others to follow.
“I appreciate everything the alumni have done to bring the program to where it is today,” he said.