Fans of the University of New England Football team cheer on the Nor’easters during the first half of Thursday’s game at the Coast Guard Academy. PAT McDONALD/Journal Tribune

NEW LONDON, Conn. — More than 1,000 Coast Guard Academy cadets filled the stands at Cadet Memorial Field in New London, Connecticut, on Thursday night, but the visitors from the University of New England had plenty of support of their own.

Hundreds of UNE fans made the trip to New London to cheer on the Nor’easters as they opened their first season of NCAA Division lll football.

“I’m very, very proud. This is the culmination of years of work and it’s just a really wonderful moment for UNE,” said UNE President James Herbert.

The UNE president was amazed by how many Nor’easters fans made the trip to New London on Thursday night.

“What’s also absolutely fascinating is just how many fans we have here. I mean we’re down (three hours) away from campus and we filled this stadium up with Nor’easter fans. It’s really impressive,” Herbert said.

The Nor’easters were making Coast Guard work for everything on Thursday night, which also made their university president very happy.

“I’m really proud of this team. This is a young team. It’s mostly freshmen and sophomores and they’re holding their own,” said Herbert.

Biddeford High School graduate Joey Curit (1) and Wells High School grad Owen Berrry (15) warm up before the University of New England’s football game at the Coast Guard Academy on Thursday. PAT McDONALD/Journal Tribune

Frank Galardo works at UNE — and has a son, freshman Connor Galardo, on the team — and he has wanted the school to add football from the time he was hired.

“When I was hired 10 years ago during my interview I asked the five folks interviewing me ‘is there a football team?’ And they said ‘no, never going to have one.’ And at that point I said, ‘never say never.’ Ten years later and look what we have, ” said Galardo.

The parents of several UNE players were thrilled to see the UNE squad get so much support.

“It is unbelievable. It is so exciting. The air is full of energy and it’s just unbelievable … I’m so glad that Peyton went to UNE,” said Michelle Phillips, whose son Peyton is a sophomore quarterback for the Nor’easters.

“We absolutely love (UNE). It’s a great community,” added Rich Narciso, who is father of UNE offensive lineman Brandon Narciso.

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