Ray Pavlik has been on the sideline for all 12 editions of the Kicks for Cancer fundraiser.
But this year’s grand event on Saturday was different for the 17-year boys’ soccer coach at Concord-Carlisle, the host school.
Pavlik was around the fields all day, morning into the night, helping out and waiting as his C-C boys prepped for their marquee matchup against Dual County League rival Lincoln-Sudbury under the lights.
It was a day of athletics, community, and support that attracted teams from 18 towns, scores of players, and hundreds of spectators.
Every player and coach wore special colored game shirts, with the name of a loved one, or friend lettered across the back that was dealing with cancer.
Pavlik wore ‘Swaim’ to honor Jenna Swaim, a Concord resident in whose name Saturday’s event honored. Her husband, Derek, is Pavlik’s longtime friend. Over the years, the three had become close. Pavlik has worn ‘Swaim’ on the back of his KFC jersey for the past four years, since Jenna was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She died on July 3 at age 43.
“Jenna’s been to these games,” Pavlik said Saturday. “This is my fourth year wearing this jersey. But it’s my first time wearing it without her.”
A member athletic hall of fame at Concord-Carlisle, Jenna Swaim played soccer at Yale.
Derek and his three children, Luke, Jason, and Nora, were in attendance Saturday. Before the game, they were recognized on the field and delivered a ceremonial “opening kick” as a large crowd cheered. The kids flashed a smile as they walked off.
“I hope they were proud of their mom,” said Pavlik after his squad lost a 1-0 decision to L-S. He consoled his team by telling they contributed to something bigger than soccer.
On the opposite bench sat Matt Ward and Ignacio Ortiz, a pair of L-S seniors who starred in a dramatic, well-played game. Ward wore a jersey with “Terri” on the back, honoring his mother’s best friend, who is being treated for a brain tumor.
“The amazing thing about this event is getting to play for people,” Ward said. “To be able to represent my mom’s best friend is really special for me.”
Ortiz scored the game’s only goal in the first half, when he uncorked a breathtaking strike from 25 yards out that went in the top-right corner. His jersey bore the name “Martín,” a family friend who died two years ago Saturday.
“It’s incredible, it kind of feels like God prepared this,” Ortiz said of the symmetry of playing a Kicks for Cancer game exactly two years after Martín’s passing.
Earlier, the Brookline boys beat Bay State Conference rival Newton North, 2-1. Jacques Baldwin, a senior forward for the Warriors, played the game for his grandmother, who died of brain cancer in 2015.
“She was always so supportive of me, especially playing soccer,” Baldwin said. “She would always try to get to games, even when it was hard for her to move.
“I have her name on my jersey because win or lose, I know she’s with me. And we played for the names on everyone’s jerseys today. It had been my dream to play in this game.”
Needham managed a draw with Lexington in a noontime game, not a dazzling result but a solid one against a strong foe.
“There’s more to life than playing soccer,” said Needham coach Jimmy Odierna.
“We make a big deal of it during the games, but there’s so much more to life. You’ve got to make the most of it. I think having this day and wearing these jerseys is a great reminder.”
Brookline head coach Kyle Beaulieu-Jones coached in honor of his wife’s grandfather. He pointed out that the event meant something special to everyone involved, but in many different ways.
“Some are rallying around people and celebrating life, and some are mourning and trying to heal,” he said.
In one of the day’s most emotional moments, the Weston girls’ soccer team was invited to midfield at halftime of the Lincoln-Sudbury/Concord-Carlisle game to honor their fallen former teammate, Ash Baird, who died of cancer in April. The girls were presented with Kicks for Cancer jerseys as a tribute to Baird was read over the PA.
“It’s helping us move forward,” said Weston coach John Power, of the outpouring of support from the soccer community.
In total, and including the newly-created 5K held on Sunday in Jenna Swaim’s honor, more than $100,000 was raised for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, according to Concord-Carlisle athetic director Aaron Joncas. That eclipses the previous high, $62,000, set last year.
There are hundreds of soccer games played each day across the state. But the 10 on Saturday were special. Each athlete poured out their heart for their teammates, those in attendance, and most of all, for those were unable to be there.
■ It was a challenging week for defending Division 1 champion Brockton (4-3-1), which dropped matches to BC High (3-1) and Somerville(2-1). The Boxers started the season 4-0, but are 0-3-1 in their last three. Senior forward Leonardo Teixeira was injured in a 1-1 tie against New Bedford and sat out a 2-0 loss at Marlborough the prior week. Brockton coach Herminio Furtado said Teixeira was not 100 percent at BC High on Thursday. The Boxers, who lost only two games in their title run in 2017, still have tough matchups against Norwell, New Bedford, and Mansfield.
■ The race for the Middlesex League Liberty Division Title is set up to be a fascinating one. Lexington, Arlington, Belmont, and Winchester all in the chase. Arlington (3-1-1) is currently atop the division after securing a 4-1 win over Belmont on Saturday. Second-place Lexington (2-1) defeated the Spy Ponders, 1-0 earlier in the season. Winchester (2-2-1), which beat Lexington 1-0 on Sept. 15th, and Belmont (2-2) are a game behind. Each team will have one more matchup with the others.
■ Brookline took the driver’s seat in the Bay State Conference Carey Division following its 1-0 win over previously unbeaten Newton North on Saturday. The two teams, tied for first place now, split the season series. The Warriors (6-1-1) still have to face 13th-ranked Needham twice, while the Tigers (6-1-1) will face the Rockets once.
Players of the week
Cole Berry, Carver — A two-year captain, the senior collected a hat trick in a 5-0 The senior collected a hat trick in a 5-0 South Shore win over Randolph on Thursday.
Matt Gill, Duxbury — The senior midfielder tallied a goal in a 4-0 win over Marshfield and then recorded two goals and an assist in a 3-0 victory over Bridgewater-Raynham.
Josh Quirk, Middlesex — The senior forward from Middleton helped the Zebras stay unbeaten, tallying three goals and one assist in a victory over Tabor and scoring the winner in a 1-0 win over Milton Academy.
Josh Rubin, Masconomet — The senior scored three goals as the Chieftains cruised to a 7-0 Cape Ann Kinney victory over Triton.
Francesco Valagussa, Arlington — In Saturday’s signature 4-1 Middlesex League win over Belmont, the senior was responsible for every goal, recording two goals and two assists for the 12th-ranked Spy Ponders.
Games to watch
Tuesday, Latin Academy at New Mission, 3 p.m. — The unbeaten Dragons look to stay atop the City League standings in a matchup with the one-loss Titans.
Tuesday, North Andover at Dracut, 3:30 p.m. — Ranked second in this week’s Globe Top 20, the Scarlet Knights face a tough Merrimack Valley League road test against the Middies.
Tuesday, Wayland at Concord-Carlisle, 4 p.m. — Two of the top teams in the Dual County League wsquare off in their lone matchup of the fall.
Thursday, Mashpee at Norwell, 4 p.m. — The 17th-ranked Clippers host one of the top contenders from the South Shore League Tobin division.
Saturday, Xaverian at Malden — Undefeated Malden hosts a Catholic Conference contender.
Charlie Wolfson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.