Published: Sep 24, 2012 03:29 PM
Modified: Sep 24, 2012 03:39 PM
CARY - Four local high school soccer teams hosted an international opponent last week.
Halifax-West High School, in Canada’s Nova Scotia province, paid a visit to the area to play four games in four days.
Cary High School Athletics Director and boys’ soccer coach Mike Dunphy, who is from Nova Scotia, knew Halifax-West coach George Iatrou from his youth soccer days. Once a year, Halifax-West’s soccer team makes a trip to Toronto or the New England area to play.
This year, Dunphy urged Iatrou to bring his team further south.
“I said, ‘If you want some soccer, this is the place to be for soccer,’ ” Dunphy said. “And that’s just kind of the way it worked out.”
The Canadian team lost 3-0 to Cardinal Gibbons, 2-0 to Panther Creek and 3-0 to Cary. It defeated Lee County 3-2 in a game played on WakeMed Soccer Park’s Koka Booth field.
The temperature was in the low 80s as fall weather started to move in, but Iatrou described it as “extreme heat.” Back home in Nova Scotia, the midweek high was 65 degrees.
In its down time, Halifax-West also got a nice-sized Triangle-shaped slice of Americana by going to the Tanger Outlets in Mebane, a Carolina RailHawks game, Bojangles’ and a home Cary High football game. “Our football game here was like a college football game back home,” Dunphy said. “There’s no marching band back home. The public schools in the cities don’t have the programs that we have. And more important, they don’t have the sense of community and parent involvement that we have, and that’s one thing that they were really surprised (about).”
The trip wasn’t an easy one for the Canadian team; six players came down with flu-like symptoms, and one went to the hospital because he thought he had appendicitis.
The team had no substitutes for its game at Panther Creek.
But the host schools tried to make the team feel welcome despite its troubles. Cary High gave each player a letterman’s-jacket soccer pin, and Cardinal Gibbons played a school-produced recording of “O Canada” before the game, while the WakeMed Soccer Park staff and Panther Creek gave T-shirts.
“It was a great experience for our kids and theirs,” Dunphy said. “It’s about being good citizens and good ambassadors. And anytime we can represent our school like we did today with our play, and how we handle things before the game and after the game, it’s just good.”
Players from each local school received a pin and Nova Scotia flag from the visitors.
“The hospitality has been flattering; everyone has been nice to us, and the competition was excellent,” said Iatrou. “And who knows? Maybe in a couple of years we come down again.”
Iatrou said he doesn’t know how to repay Dunphy.
Dunphy may have an idea: “Maybe we go up there one day.”