The last time the University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team held an alumni game, Trevor O’Neill was a wide-eyed Cascades rookie.
That was way back in 2010, and O’Neill remembers relishing the opportunity to get to know some of the former Cascades stars who had helped build the program.
After graduating this past spring, he decided to exercise his newfound alumni status and revive the alumni game after a five-year hiatus.
On Friday evening, a 13-player squad comprised of former Cascades took on the current edition of the squad at Bateman Park. Alan Errington, who retired in March after 11 years as UFV’s head coach, was back to coach the alumni.
Errington’s trademark tactical acumen wasn’t enough to overcome a deep Cascades team that’s in peak physical condition with their Canada West regular season opener just one week away. The current UFV’ers topped the alumni 8-1 behind a four-goal outing from fourth-year midfielder Kree Byrne. Juan Pablo Mora Perea notched the lone goal for the elders, slotting home a rebound off Ryan Liddiard’s initial shot.
But the final score was hardly the point. The night was about building bridges between the program’s past and its present, and in that respect, it was a smashing success.
“At first, I was worried nobody would come out because it was a long weekend,” said O’Neill, who captained the Cascades in 2014. “But it was an amazing time. We had all these guys who were playing back when I was a first-year rookie, and in terms of reuniting people, it was awesome. Every guy that showed up, it felt like it was your brother.”
Tom Lowndes, the Cascades’ first-year head coach, was pleased that the alumni game had been revived.
“It was nice to see Trevor get it going again,” he said. “These alumni are the guys who have shaped and moulded the program to where it is today. It was nice to blend the old and the new.
“We weren’t really that concerned about the result – it was more about getting the guys together and having a good tempo to the game, and being able to reconnect with players who have done a lot for the program.”
This Saturday, the Cascades take on the Kwantlen Eagles of the PacWest conference in exhibition action at 5 p.m. at Newton Athletic Park in Surrey. They open the Canada West regular season next week on the road, facing the UBC Okanagan Heat on Saturday, Sept. 12 and the Thompson Rivers WolfPack on Sunday, Sept. 13.