GDS vs. GUSC Challenge fundraiser
Gaston Day, Gaston United play friendly game, collect food for local food bank
Moments before kickoff of the inaugural Gaston Day School-Gaston United Soccer Club Challenge on Dec. 7, a smiling Conrad Sloand walked over to one of Gaston United’s players and uttered two words: “You’re mine!”
It was a fitting start to the friendly match, which featured Gaston Day’s varsity boys, 14-5-3 this past season, versus a motley crew of Gaston United coaches, many of whom are well familiar with GDS’ team, coaches and the school.
“Gaston Day, Gaston United and Belmont Abbey College have great synergy. We all know each other well and support each other in any way we can,” said Mark Wright, GUSC’s president. “For all of us to come together to play this game, on this field, and to band together to collect food to donate to a local food bank, speaks to the unlimited reach we can collectively have.”
Billed as the “Old-Timers versus the Young Guns,” the game had been the talk of the town in the weeks leading up to kickoff; Sloand, who played forward and center mid this season, wasn’t the only one. The Spartans’ mercurial goalkeeper, Harrison Romero, had plenty to say as well.
But John Kelly, a coach in GUSC’s Academy, wanted nothing to do with the trash talk, telling his fellow coaches that “we will have our work cut out for us chasing those 16- and 17-year-olds.”
Wearing kits provided by Belmont Abbey College and with its men’s soccer coach, John Keating, in the role of manager, it was the “Old Timers” who drew first blood, thanks to a 20-yard strike by U13 boys coach Jeremy McGovern, in the third minute. Shortly after that, GUSC’s Academy director Jeff Phillips netted back-to-back tallies in the fourth and sixth minutes, and a rout was seemingly on.
Then GDS coach Greg Lekavich called on his secret weapon – inserting himself into the lineup in the second half. After forward Jake Rowe scored to put GDS on the board, Lekavich found himself with plenty of space about 23 yards away, and unleashed a left-footed strike past a diving Joel Webb. A flurry of goals—from both sides—followed, much to the delight of the families who came out to watch.
“It was so much fun to see our coaches play,” said Ginger Rowe, who—as a GDS parent and GUSC board member—found herself rooting for both sides. “It made me take notice of our quality coaches all in one place.”
At the end of the day, one team scored more goals than the other. But it hardly mattered who won; two big Rubbermaid tubs of non-perishable food items were collected to be donated to a local food bank, just in time for Christmas.
“This was a great idea—something we should build on for the greater good for years to come,” said Keating, who, for the second consecutive year, will partner with GUSC on a soccer camp next summer. Added Tatum Bourque, the longtime GUSC coach and Belmont Abbey alum: “This was great. Can’t wait for the next one.”
This write-up was previously published in The Gaston Gazette on Dec. 14. MORE