Tigers win, raise money for Dana-Farber in Kicks for Cancer match

The Newtonite

by Kristian Lundberg
As coach Roy Dow put it, the name on the back of the jersey was much more important than the name on the front.

On the rainy turf at Concord-Carlisle, boys’ soccer defeated Brookline 2-0 Saturday thanks to a brace from senior Luke Westman, but the final score depicts only part of the story.

The Tigers and Warriors squared off as part of the six Kicks for Cancer matches, in which 12 high school soccer teams from across the state gathered to support cancer research. According to Dow, the event, which started in 2007, raised thousands of dollars for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

The Tigers, varying from the traditional orange and black color scheme, donned a powder blue uniform, while Brookline wore light pink. The teams played the match with a pink soccer ball, and all players had the name of someone close to them who was affected by cancer printed on the back of their uniforms.

“It was definitely an awesome event,” Dow said. “All of the teams were excited to be there, especially seeing all of the work that Concord-Carlisle put in.”

“The little details, everything from the raffles to the pink soccer balls, made the event special.”

According to Dow, the event also “helped us put sports into a perspective.”

“Often we talk about sports as being life or death, as a war, but the battles in hospital rooms at Dana-Farber are much more life-changing than the battles on a soccer field,” he said.

“We tell players to play for the name on the front of their jersey, but that day, everyone was playing for the names on the back.”

In times of sadness, sports offers a “distraction from what’s going on in the world,” Dow added.

“I think sports are meant to be enjoyed but also are meant to distract people,” he said, citing José Mourinho’s response to the 2005 bombings in London. Mourinho was the manager of Chelsea F.C. at the time.

“It’s important to participate because it makes a statement that there are bigger things going on in the world. We can use the game to bring awareness and raise money for a good cause,” Dow said.

This year, Brookline gave up one of their home games to participate in the tournament, and the Tigers will relinquish a home game next year.

“To me, that’s the biggest thing, because both teams are using their home games to help something greater,” Dow said.

Although the victory was important for symbolic reasons as well, a solid win was just what the doctor ordered for the Tigers. The squad, unable to score in its two previous matches, evened its record at 3-3-3 with the victory to close the first half of the season.

“I think we ‘re in a good spot,” Dow said. “We keep building game to game, and the players are getting into a rhythm.”

In the match, senior Nick Knaian recorded his second consecutive shutout, continuing to impress in his first year on the varsity team. Over the first nine games of the season, he had posted a stellar 0.78 goals against average.

“Nick’s doing a phenomenal job, coming in and battling,” Dow said. “We have two strong goalies, and both of them are able to play and step up for the team.”

“Defensively, we’re working hard, and we’re doing a good job of limiting shots, and helping the goalie out.”

The Tigers travel to Natick today as they begin the push to qualify for the State Tournament.