Alumni soccer game is Aug. 26

Jake Edwards (right) of the Class of 2007 contends with a varsity player during last year’s Joel Barlow High soccer alumni game. This year’s contest will be played on Saturday, Aug, 26, at 7 p.m. at Barlow. — Scott Mullin photo

The 43rd season of soccer at Joel Barlow High will unofficially start with the annual alumni game.

The contest, which features players from years past taking on the current boys varsity team, is set for Saturday, Aug. 26, at 7 p.m. at the high school stadium field. A $5 donation will be encouraged at the game.

All alumni will receive a game T-shirt and all be announced individually prior to the game. A post-game “get together” will follow at the Spinning Wheel Inn.

Since its inception in 1975, more than 420 players have come through Barlow’s soccer program. It has produced seven state championships, 17 league championships, and a 569-131-69 overall record.

“I just loving come down for it,” said former head coach Jim Dolan, who will again make the trip down from Massachusetts. “It’s one of my few connections to the program.”

The program’s original head coach, Dolan led Barlow for 29 seasons before retiring in 2003. He was still involved in coaching until recently, leading the boys freshman team at Hingham (Mass.) High for three years.

The alumni and the varsity team have faced each other nearly every year since 1980, the only exception being in 2011 when the game was not played due to the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.

This marks the fourth year the game will be played on Barlow’s artificial turf field. For a number of the older alumni who have not been back in a while, this will be a new experience of sorts.

Between 25 and 30 former players regularly turn out, covering a variety of graduating classes. While some alumni have shown up only a few times since graduating, others attend nearly every year. Some even travel from out-of-state and some distance to play.

“Their camaraderie is high but they have a lot of pride,” said Dolan. “The game is intense.

We have a lot of tradition in the program.”

Now more and more alumni who played for Paul Winstanley, who succeeded Dolan as head coach in 2004, are coming back.

“They’re starting to make up the majority of the participants,” said Winstanley. “You have a lot of really good players coming back who now have the benefit of experience.”

Until last year, the alumni game marked the first time the varsity team was able to get on the field for the season. Now with the start of practice for fall sports moved up, Barlow will be able to hold tryouts and have a team picked for the game.

In recent years the alumni have had the upper hand, prevailing in 14 of the last 18 contests. Last year they won 1-0 for the fourth straight time.

“The alumni can still compete, which makes it a great scrimmage for the team,” said Dolan. ”They can still give the kids a good game.”

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