Recap: Kicks for Cancer victory on and off the pitch

The cliché in sports is that the name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back.

There are always exceptions, however.

From Newton North freshman Conor Larkin scoring the lone goal to beat rivals Brookline with Pop Pop on the back of his jersey to the entire Wakefield team wearing shirts that read Angelo in honor of their coach’s father, the meaning of the 2012 Lois Wells Kicks for Cancer soccer tournament extended far beyond the Concord-Carlisle High School community that hosted it.

The tournament, now in its sixth season, has expanded from its original idea of a one-game fundraiser in honor of Concord-Carlisle assistant coach Steve Wells’ mother Lois, who passed away after a battle with cancer in 2007. This year 12 teams took part showcasing both the depth of soccer talent in the area as well as the generosity of the communities in which they compete.

Wells, speaking hours before the Patriots took the field against Lincoln-Sudbury, was amazed at the amount of support the tournament has received, “For my family and me, it just means so much and, I think, for the Concord-Carlisle community it’s really something that everyone looks forwards to every year and I think now that we’ve added other local towns it’s something that they get excited for too.”

One of the interesting features of the tournament is that players do not wear their normal team jerseys, but rather don light blue or pink T-shirts with the names of people in their lives that have been affected by cancer. From family members, to friends, and (at least in the case of one player) Bob Marley, the shirts reinforce the message that the games are about more than just wins and losses.

The original idea for the tournament was developed by Concord coach Roy Pavlik and he spoke of the attitude that the players take towards the tournament, “For some of the kids, it’s the highlight of their year. The crowds are big, but I think they get the idea that they have an opportunity to do something special here. It’s more than just about a soccer game.”

While the tournament is very personal to the Concord-Carlisle team, other coaches and teams have also become very connected to the event. Wakefield coach Matt Angelo was emotional following his team’s 2-0 win over Stoneham. He had no idea that the team had decided to wear shirts honoring his father Mike, who had been diagnosed with double myeloma in 2006.

“My guys decided to honor him as a team, they all put Angelo on their backs,” explained Angelo. “It’s special. There is a different feeling when you come here. It makes you think about the greater meaning.”

These thoughts were echoed by Newton North coach Roy Dow as he deflected a question about his team’s victory over Brookline, “Today the main thing we talked about was what we’re here for, it’s not to beat Brookline, and it’s to raise money for cancer (research). People die from cancer and what that says to me is life is short and there’s no reason not to leave everything out on the field.”

Following each game, teams gathered to take photos with their shorts and each time (and without prodding from parents or coaches) the player insisted that photos be taken of the names that each had chosen to play for. Wells noted this feeling that surrounds the tournament, “It’s something that has gone way above soccer and that’s very special to see, as a coach, to be able to do something bigger than the game itself.”

Game Notes:

• Belmont and Lexington played to a scoreless draw in one of the 1:00 games. Belmont’s sophomore goalie Robbie Montanaro made seven saves for his third shutout of the season. Lexington goalie, Joey McWeeney, made four saves for his second shutout.

• Wakefield beat Stoneham 2-0 in the other 1 p.m. game. M.J. Urbano scored the opener on an assist from Josh LaPlace. LaPlace would score the clincher and Alan Conlon kept Stoneham out for his fourth shutout of the season. Wakefield is now 3-3-3 on the season.

• Newton North edged out its rivals from Brookline 1-0 for its 2nd win of the season. Freshman Conor Larkin scored his 2nd goal of the season, and second game-winner, in the 19th minute. Andrew Leaper held on for a clean sheet.

• Reading improved to 5-3-1 with a 1-0 win over Woburn. Dane Sullivan scored the game’s lone goal off an assist from Jackson Conroy. Lee Jacobs was in net for the Rockets.

• In one of the nightcaps, No. 3 ranked Acton-Boxborough finished with a scoreless draw against Wayland.

• The other late game was a 3-0 victory by No. 2 Concord-Carlisle over Lincoln-Sudbury. The hosts took the lead in the 9th minute on a goal by senior captain Stowe Simonton. In the 27th minute sophomore Mitchell Palmer tack on the second before junior midfielder Leo Fondriest finished the scoring 9 minutes after halftime. Senior Cray Novick earned the shutout in goal (his sixth shutout of season).