It took more than a little rain to dampen the enthusiasm of soccer players and their families who celebrated the annual tradition of Soccer Saturday—where club and high school players get together to celebrate and support local soccer.
For the second year in a row, a special presentation was made to the family of the late Col. John McHugh, a James Caldwell High School alumnus and former soccer player, who died in Afghanistan in May 2010.
The festivities began Saturday at Caldwell High School where the freshman boys beat Nutley by a score of 3-1. Local teams from the Caldwell/West Caldwell soccer club got their team pictures taken, and snacks and soccer clothing was on sale.
However, when the rain began to pour down, the JV game was cancelled and the varsity games moved to the Kiwanis Oval. The varsity boys lost to Nutley 2-0, but the varsity girls beat Mt. Saint Dominic Academy 5-0.
After the boys varsity game, a presentation by school officials was made to the McHugh family and to two graduating seniors selected by their peers as athletes who exemplified "dedication, leadership, service and sacrifice," said Athletic Director Richard Porfido.
The athletes chosen were James Sweeney for the boys, and Emily Banaszynski for the girls.
On hand for the ceremony were Supt. of Schools, James Heinegg, Principal Kevin Barnes, Porfido, West Caldwell Councilmen Dominick Aiello and Joseph Cecere, among other dignitaries.
The teams lined the field, along with the high school's cheerleaders to remember McHugh, who Porfido remarked as a standout athlete in baseball and soccer goalie while at James Caldwell High, and went on to play soccer at West Point and earn two master's degrees, in addition to his 25-year military career.
The McHugh family was presented with a plaque to the applause of the audience.