Thornton Academy sophomore midfielder Jack Cote looks to make a play during the Trojans’ 20th annual alumni game Wednesday night at Hill Stadium. (Sam Bonsey/JOURNAL TRIBUNE)

SACO — Not even a heavy downpour stopped the Thornton Academy boys’ varsity soccer team from playing in its 20th annual alumni game on a damp Wednesday night at Hill Stadium.

While the 2019 Golden Trojans pulled away for a decisive 6-0 win over the alumni, Thornton head coach Andrew Carlson uses the alumni game to track “progression” from his current roster as the team moves closer toward the regular season.

“We’re looking for our guys to be dynamic, start stringing passes together and sort of up the level of execution,” Carlson said. “By now, our guys should be finding a rhythm, they should be understanding the system we’re playing in, and we want to display that.”

The varsity team, which returns 16 of its 22 players from a squad that went 6-7-1 to earn the No. 9 seed in Class A South in 2018,  took the field against players from past generations of the Thornton program. The teams were scheduled to play a complete, 80-minute game but the weather worsened in the second half, which caused the match to end 10 minutes early. 

The turnout from the alumni was down from previous years, not quite enough to field a complete 11-man team, so Carlson had a few of the current Trojans throw on yellow uniforms to help the squad. The game typically attracts 20 to 30 alumni, but Carlson figured the poor weather had an impact. Good weather or not, Carlson said the alumni have always put up a good fight in the game.

“All those guys can play,” Carlson said. “They’re difficult to play against because they read the game very well, which means that we have to be intelligent about the way we play. We can’t play too simplistic.”

The varsity team controlled the time of possession throughout the game, taking advantage of what they’ve learned in the preseason to wear out the alumni. Thornton was consistently quicker to the ball and made sharper cuts as they took a 4-0 lead into halftime. 

Even though the alumni were overmatched by a younger, more athletic team, Carlson thought his Trojans needed a challenge of playing against mature and more experienced players. Putting on the alumni game, he said, allows the past players to build relationships with the current Trojans.

“It’s great to see (the alumni),” Carlson said. “It’s great to see all of them reconnect. This game is a way for them to give back to the program, and it’s great for the current guys to continue to have connections with them”

 

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