The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    Alumni game proves refreshing

    For the UW-Eau Claire women’s soccer team, Saturday afternoons in late October are usually defined by tense, crucial games that significantly influence postseason participation.

    But Saturday, the Blugolds were given a chance to take their foot off of the gas pedal and reconnect with former teammates as they played an exhibition game against former Blugold players in the annual Alumni game at a sunny Bollinger Field.

    Although the alumni notched a 4-3 victory, Saturday afternoon’s score was perhaps the most insignificant part of what Coach Sean Yengo calls one of his favorite days of the year.

    “It’s a great weekend,” Yengo said. “It’s an opportunity to bring the alumni back on campus and more importantly these current players get to see what the alumnus are doing.”

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    Alumni weekend is a tradition Yengo started when he took over the Blugold program 16 seasons ago.  Some years, the Blugold alumni scrimmage one another after the current squad plays a regularly scheduled game.

    This year’s alumni weekend, however, fell on a Saturday when the Blugolds did not have a game, so the former players who made the trek back to Bollinger Field and current roster were able to square off for 70 minutes of soccer.

    The game was loose and played non-traditionally as there were no referees or official statistics.  The coaching staff also acted non-traditionally Saturday afternoon, as Yengo and his long-time assistant coach Kimamoe Wahome stepped in to aid the alumni roster, with Yengo even netting a goal of his own.

    “We just told the (current) team to relax and enjoy this one,” Yengo said. “It’s about being out there and having fun.”

    When there are two teams and an operating scoreboard, however, this advice can be hard to follow for an athlete.  Athletes have a competitive nature about them so even a game against old friends and teammates can allow for some hard competition. While competitiveness was certainly present, Saturday afternoon consisted of a lot of smiles and laughter.

    Junior midfielder Allie Stone said that the game was a really good change of pace.

    “It’s always fun to have them (the alumni) back here,” Stone said. “It gets competitive, but it’s a lot of fun.”

    While they have long been done suiting up in a Blugold uniform and their lives have moved on, the former players that return to Eau Claire for the weekend certainly cherish the opportunity to play with their former teammates and coaches on a field where a lot of their collegiate time was spent.

    Graduate Rachel Nerison said it was good to take a trip down memory lane.

    “I’ve been looking forward to this weekend ever since my last game last year,” Nerison said, “It brings back a lot of good memories and this was definitely a very special experience.”

    The Blugolds returned to action on Sunday by playing Wartburg College to a 1-1 tie at Bollinger Field and will wrap up the regular season Saturday on the road at UW-La Crosse before postseason play commences next week.

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    Alumni game proves refreshing