Brookhaven hosts charity match for Sept. 11 first responders and Hurricane Harvey relief.
By John C. McClanahan
Copy Desk Chief
The Brookhaven College Bears soccer team hosted the Dallas Roma F.C. women’s team at home for the second annual First Responders Match. On the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, the exhibition game commemorated fallen police officers and firefighters who answered the call for help. The Bears raised $960 for the Texas Association of First Responders, Jim Elder, head soccer coach, said.
“We want to show the community that we’re not just in it to play soccer games,” Elder said. “We want to give back what we can, as well.”
The game also served as a Hurricane Harvey relief drop-off spot. At the entrance of the Brookhaven soccer complex, Soccer Innovations, Elder’s soccer equipment store, collected an array of essential items donated by game attendees. The donations began to pile up in the back of a hauling trailer as people dropped off items before taking seats in the stands.
Elder said the team took the Harvey donations to a couple of local relief centers, including Metrocrest Services in Farmers Branch.
Soccer Innovations sponsored the match with soccer gear and raffle prizes for attendees. Goals and training gear were set up for children to play soccer-themed games in the adjacent field.
The match began at 6 p.m. as the Bears kicked off against Roma and charged down the field. Roma held an early command with quick passes and pressure on the Bears’ defense. Though the Bears kept a high energy, they could not stop Roma from taking a 2-0 lead.
“They’re a really, really good team,” Bears Brenda Hernandez said. “They might not have the speed, but they’re smart, and they know every move that we do.”
During halftime, Kevin Hurst, athletics director, announced the raffle winners. He handed the winners soccer balls, gear and backpacks for the giveaway.
In the second half, the Bears continued to use swift breaks against Roma. After a breakaway, Bears Alex Aguilar stunned Roma’s defense as she rolled a shot in the back of Roma’s net. The goal placed the Bears on the board 2-1.
Though the Bears challenged Roma with unceasing energy, Roma grabbed a victory over Brookhaven.
“We always like to come over and play Brookhaven,” Laura Flanagan, a Roma player, said. “They are organized, very well coached, and the girls are always willing to come out and give us a great game. So, we’ll never pass up an opportunity to come out and play against these kids.”
Elder said as the Bears prep for conference play, the match was the perfect chance for the team to experience tough opponents. He said, “We wanted to play a team that is really tough and would really stress us – cause us to have to work really hard and struggle before the season.”
Elder said the 2017 First Responders Match was an overall success and the Bears plan on hosting another game next year. “It was a good turnout,” Elder said. “We collected a lot of money, and I’m glad we were able to do that. We’re drawing a really good crowd, and we look forward to doing it again next year.”
Elder also said the match was a great way for the women’s soccer team to give back to the community and participate in Harvey relief. “We want them to learn more than just soccer,” Elder said. “We are all very impressionable … and we wanted to show them that there are some things bigger than soccer.”
Hernandez said, “That’s the reason we did it. We just wanted to help people.”