Cobras soccer hosts Kick for the Cure Invitational
Published: Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 13:09
This past weekend marked a historic event as Parkland College Men's Soccer hosted the first "Kick For The Cure" Invitational Tournament. The Cobras, in conjunction with the American Cancer Society, put together an event that helped promote awareness and raise money for cancer research. This "Coaches v. Cancer" event kicked off Friday, September 2 and lasted through Sunday, September 4. It proved to be a huge success.
Spearheaded by Parkland Men's Soccer head coach Mark Sikora, the invitational showcased ten community college teams. The spotlight was not limited to the collegiate level as four local high schools also participated in the tournament. Despite the plethora of talent on the field, the focus was centered on the fundraising aspect of the entire event.
Cancer research has proven to be quite expensive yet very necessary. Unfortunately it is an illness that tons of people suffer from and drastically affects the lives of those around them. One of those people is Sikora. His love for soccer and those close to him affected by cancer influenced his participation in the search for a cure and a method of helping along the process.
"The idea to fuse a soccer invitational with cancer research was sprung from losses in my own family as well as those within our soccer family over the last few years," said Sikora. "This event is the culmination of many ideas that will hopefully serve as a life changing event for both our players and those who will be positively affected from the work of the American Cancer Society."
As for the action on the field, the Parkland Cobras notched their first victory of the season Friday. After falling short against two ranked opponents in the NIACC Kickoff Classic, Sikora's club bounced back with a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory of South Suburban College. In the first match of the "Kick For The Cure" Invitational, the Cobras found themselves in a 0-2 hole with about 20 minutes remaining in the match. In danger of dropping their third straight game to open the season, a resilient comeback was led by a group of freshmen. In minute 71, with their backs against the wall, freshman Ben Flodstrom scored Parkland's first goal assisted by Dhani Cerra. Cerra wasn't done. He would score the goal that sent the game to overtime 14 minutes later on a pass from Gregg Flores. The overtime period was short lived as another freshman stepped up. Mike Severino would score the game winner two minutes into the overtime period to give Parkland their first victory of the season.
Looking to build off the momentum from Friday's victory, Parkland readied itself for competition with Illinois Wesleyan University Sunday afternoon. The Cobras closed out the "Kick For The Cure" Invitational with their second win in as many games with a 2-0 victory over the Titans. A relatively quiet first half left the game up for grabs as both teams remained scoreless at intermission. The second saw the freshmen step up to the plate again. Dhani Cerra, one of the teams emerging stars, assisted on back to back goals that would give the Cobras the decided advantage. In minute 64 of the match, Fridays' overtime hero Severino scored the first goal of the game for the Cobras off a pass from Cerra. That goal was followed a minute later with another goal by freshmen Morgan Lewis again assisted by Cerra. Coach Sikora's team went undefeated in weekend play and improved its record to 2-2-0.
The action was not limited to the top-level high school and college level squads. During halftime of the second game on Sunday afternoon, a charity match was held. It was the inaugural "Team Parkland vs. The World" match. President Tom Ramage and men's basketball coach Nate Mast headed team Parkland. "The World" team consisted of multiple media personalities that included WCIA's Rob Collins (Morning Show Co-anchor), Aaron Bennett (Sports Director), Nichole Szemerei, and Andrew Wilder. Participants also included News Gazette staff members Marcus Jackson, Paul Klee, Tony Bleill, and Bob Asmussen. A valiant effort was put forth by the team of media members though they were not successful as Team Parkland was victorious by a score of 3-2. The highlight of the match was a goal scored by President Ramage on an assist from Mast. Ramage thoroughly enjoyed himself, "Every time I play [soccer] it's a great experience," he said. "I love soccer. The cause is fantastic. What better way to spend a day than playing for a good cause." Those same sentiments seemed to be shared by everyone involved.