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Soccer Players Suit Up Against Former Cougars
Moving in, at left, is alumni player Carlos Cruz as current Cougar Jose Mendes works to get the ball up the field.Times Photos By Marg Jackson

It was a tight game at the half – the current Escalon Cougars leading just 1-0 but the soccer players poured it on in the second half, ultimately defeating a team of alums by a 6-1 final.

Varsity head coach Paul Silva said the idea was spearheaded by Cougar alum Roberto Martinez and former coach Chris Oliveira, with support from high school principal Eric Simoni and a solid group of former players that wanted to get back on the pitch.

Ivan Velazquez from the Class of ’96 served as head coach for the alumni team, with Juan Valeriano coaching the current squad.

“It was 1-0 at halftime and then they scored to tie it up,” Silva noted of the alumni, which included players from not only last year and the past few, but even back to the Section title winning team of 1996. “Then this year’s team found open space in the second half and Guillermo (Alvarez) is just faster than everyone else.”

Alvarez had the bulk of the varsity team’s goals in the game, which was played on the varsity football field under the lights on Friday night. Admission fees benefited the soccer program at EHS, which this year saw both the varsity girls and varsity boys advance to playoffs. The boys made it back to the Section title game but came up just a bit short, taking second place honors for the second consecutive year.

Silva said he was glad to see the support in the stands and also was pleased with the camaraderie on the field. He was pressed in to service as the referee at the last moment.

“We’ve talked about doing it in the past, this year, Roberto, Chris and principal Simoni just took it and ran with it,” Silva explained. “It was fun to see a lot of the guys I coached in the past and it was just a good, fun night.”

Silva added that based on the success and enthusiasm for the contest, he does expect it to become an annual event.