Kicks for Cancer: Ladies take the field

Players don't wear team jerseys at Kicks for Cancer. Instead, they wear T-shirts bearing the names of family members and friends who've battled cancer. Courtesy Josh Perry

CONCORD, Mass. – Seven years ago, the Concord-Carlisle soccer team staged a single game to help raise money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in honor of assistant coach Steve Wells’ mother Lois. The annual Kicks for Cancer was so well received that in 2011 it had grown to six games and twelve teams. In the past seven years, the event has raised more than $100,000 for cancer research.

On Saturday afternoon, the event reached another milestone, as the Lady Patriots donned blue t-shirts for the first time and took the field against league rival Lincoln-Sudbury. It was the first time that the girls’ programs had taken part in the event and it was announced that all the proceeds for this year would support women’s cancer research.

“It’s nice to get them involved, particularly since all the money being raised is earmarked for women’s cancers,” said Concord-Carlisle boys’ head coach Ray Pavlik after his team’s game in the nightcap. “It was something that they’ve wanted to do and we just finally said it’s time to go.”

According to Lincoln-Sudbury head coach Kate Berry, the process started before last year’s event when former Patriots coach Nancy Slocum started lobbying Pavlik to have the girls join in the event. Although there was no room in 2012, and Slocum stepped down as coach following the season, she continued to push for the girls to be included.

“[Nancy Slocum] and I talked about doing it last year and Ray just didn’t have a spot for us…kudos to her for getting us the opportunity,” said Berry. “I’m so thankful that we got the chance to do that. It’s so great for the girls and I think it’s a really wonderful opportunity.”

When asked if L-S would like to be part of next year’s event, she responded, “I guess it’s up to C-C, but we’d love to take part if we can.”

First-year head coach Peter Fischelis was thrilled for his team to be able to experience Kicks for Cancer. He remarked, “It’s great for the kids, it’s great for the families, it’s great for the crowds and it’s just great to have such a nice day. They loved it; they really had a ball. It’s just a superb event all-around.”

Senior captain and goalkeeper Angela DeBruzzi admitted that the girls had heard the boys talking about the event for years and had always wanted to be part of the day. She said, “It was our first time getting to play in this, which is awesome and to come out here and to support breast cancer awareness.”

She added, “It’s really nice to finally be part of it.”

During Kicks for Cancer, teams do not wear their traditional school colors and uniforms. The players don t-shirts that are adorned with the name of someone that they know (i.e., family member, friend, or coach) that has battled cancer. Lincoln-Sudbury boys’ coach David Hosford talked about how the experience teaches the players to understand the importance of things beyond the field of play.

He also added, “One of the things that is really cool is that we had 15 or 20 of our former players back. They all want to come back and see the moment. It’s not a home game, but in a lot of ways it’s their homecoming.”

DeBruzzi was playing for her grandmother and it was her name that was on the back of her black goalie shirt. She may have been the star of the game and earned her a team a draw (more below), but it was the mention of her grandmother that finally brought a smile to her face.

She said, “I took a picture of the shirt and sent it to her just to make sure that she knew I was thinking of her.”

29th minute honored in boys’ game: As the clock ticked past 29:00 in the first half of the game between the Concord-Carlisle and Lincoln-Sudbury boys, the officials blew their whistle to stop play. Both teams went to the sideline and joined the large crowd lining Doug White Memorial Field for a minute of applause.

The planned stoppage paid tribute to Bridget Spence, the wife of Concord-Carlisle High English teacher Alex Spence, who passed away this year at the age of 29. The 2013 event was dedicated to her memory. Spence was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 22, according to Pavlik, and she battled cancer for seven years, while also working diligently to raise money for Dana Farber.

Pavlik, wearing a t-shirt that said Spence on the back with the number 29, explained, “If there is anyone that is a testament to what Dana-Farber can do…she worked up to the last few weeks of her life raising money for Dana-Farber. She was a pretty special woman.”

The idea for the minute of applause came from one of the players and both coaches agreed to the plan.

Pavlik reflected, “That was cool. It was a nice moment to stop…it was a nice touch to do a moment applause.”

No. 4 Lincoln-Sudbury girls 0, No. 16 Concord-Carlisle 0

Maybe it was wearing her grandmother’s name on the back of her jersey, but Angela DeBruzzi was in inspired form for Concord-Carlisle (5-0-2) when they took on Lincoln-Sudbury (4-0-2) in the 3:30 kickoff. Thanks to DeBruzzi’s heroics, which included five incredible saves in the second half alone, the No. 16 Patriots held the No. 4 Warriors to a 0-0 draw.

“Their goalie was lights out; I think that’s the whole story,” raved Berry. “She played a phenomenal game. I don’t even think we were kicking it right at her; I think she played a really good game in goal. She was awesome.”

Three times in the second half DeBruzzi made a spectacular stop to rob junior forward Hannah Rosenblatt of a goal. She also made a diving save on freshman Jenna Barnes and another on a cross by Caroline Kessler. It was a great performance and helped C-C keep its sixth clean sheet in seven games.

“Having a goalie like that gives you a lot of confidence in the back. She was incredible,” said Fischelis. He added, “She’s an incredible athlete. She has an unbelievable sense about where to be and when to go out and when not to. Some of those things you just can’t teach someone; it’s instinct.”

DeBruzzi deflected the praise on her teammates. She said, “I think we’ve exceeded everybody’s expectations and that comes from playing as a team and everybody working their hardest every game. It’s not me that’s having the shutouts; it’s the whole team.”

Lincoln-Sudbury dominated possession and created the lion’s share of the chances, although the best scoring opportunity of the first half fell to the Patriots. Senior captain Allie Barrett had a low shot just tipped wide of the post.

No. 8 Concord-Carlisle boys 1, Lincoln-Sudbury 1

Sophomore goalie Bobby Hurstak saved the game for the Warriors after the teams traded first half goals. Lincoln-Sudbury (3-0-3) held on to salvage a 1-1 draw with No. 8 Concord-Carlisle, who rued missed opportunities throughout the game.

“We had plenty of chances in the first half, plenty of chances in the second half, but their goalie was awesome. He was a huge equalizer tonight,” said Pavlik.

The visitors took the lead in the 25th minute on a short free kick on the edge of the box. Nathan Cohen caught the Patriots unaware by playing a pass on the ground to captain William Hutchinson, who coolly slotted it home.

The hosts kept up high tempo and pressure throughout the first half and hit the crossbar with a header before junior Mitchell Palmer rose highest to nod home a cross by Leo Fondreist with just more than a minute left in the first half.

Concord-Carlisle (6-1-1) would dominate the opening stages of the second half and Hurstak was forced into a brilliant diving save to rob Fondresit from inside the 6-yard box. The home fans were on their feet cheering again with 13 minutes left, but Garrett Leahy’s shot was inches over the bar.

“It was really won or lost in the midfield and I think we dodged some bullets with some of the chances they had,” said Hosford. “They’re a very good team.”

In other action:

Reading 1, Woburn 0 – Dave Sullivan scored the lone goal for the Rockets. Woburn also had a late penalty saved.

Lexington 3, Wakefield 1 – Lewis Mustoe, the son of NBC soccer broadcaster Robbie Mustoe, scored a brace and Caleb Stipple added the third for Lexington. Antonio Parrinello had the Wakefield goal.

Brookline 2, Newton North 0 – Ari Karchmer and Toma Beit-Arie scored the goals for Brookline in a battle of Bay State Conference teams.

Acton-Boxborough 1, Wayland 0 – The Colonials earned their first win at Kicks for Cancer on a goal from Julian Stewart.