MORRIS – In what has become an annual tradition, the Morris boys varsity soccer team squared off Friday against some former Morris players in an alumni vs. varsity game.
Unlike most of the prior years, though, it was the current group of high school players that dominated the action and earned a 6-2 victory.
In what was a physical game played in wet conditions, Morris coach David Valdivia feels like it was a good test for his team, which was full of young players last year who were at times outmatched when the opposition wanted to play a physical style.
“We have had the alumni game for six years, and this was only the second time that the varsity has won,” Valdivia said. “This group of varsity kids is really hungry and wants to win every time they step on the field.
“This game against the alumni will help prepare them for when we play against conference teams, because the teams in our conference play a very physical style. That hurt us last year because we were very young and very small. This year, some of those guys that were small last year have hit growth spurts and they are bigger, stronger, faster and a year smarter.”
Co-captain Connor Shaw, a junior, scored a pair of goals in the first half for the varsity Redskins as they took a 5-0 lead before Valdivia switched things up and had the normal offensive players play defense and the regular defenders play on offense.
“I told the guys to just go out there and have fun,” Valdivia said. “That’s what this game is all about, but this group of varsity guys is so competitive they want to win every time they are on the field. They have been playing together for a long time and they like to get out there and beat whoever is against them.
“We were clearly dominating the game, so I reminded them that it’s supposed to be fun and I put them in positions that they normally don’t play so they could all have fun doing something different than they normally do.”
The Redskins varsity team, which also got goals from Collin Severson and Connor McGlynn, were able to hold onto the lead and secure the win after the alumni had won the previous four meetings.
Taking the field for the alumni were Rigo Ochoa, Nate Cote, Enrique Luna, Justin Cogher, Fernando Del Toro, Kyle Monk, Evan Gagnon, Chava Villanueva, Brian Vasquez and Jose Salinas. Curt Wiekert was the referee and he was the oldest alumnus to show up, having been a member of the Class of 2002.
“It’s nice that we have such a large number of alumni that want to come back and help out,” Valdivia said. “They still want the program to keep improving even though they have graduated. That’s just great to see and shows the pride they have in being a part of the program.”