Let the Games Begin ~ Bedford’s First Soccer Game under new Covid Constraints

Editor’s Note, 10 pm, thanks to @VinceAutMorire on Twitter: Bucs win 2-0 over Waltham with SR Jasper Paez tallying both goals and earning the 1st Vince of the season. JR Max Alper with the assist and JR Evan Squire with his 1st career shutout. Backline of Manocha, Melfi, Loughlin + Morrison were lockdown

Authorized spectator lanyard – Click to view full-sized image

In a way, it was almost normal.

The Bedford High School Buccaneers entertained the Waltham Hawks in Dual Count League Small Schools Division boys’ varsity soccer Wednesday afternoon.

Despite a number of rule changes designed to impede the spread of the coronavirus Covid19, the game was smooth and competitive. And it looked like everyone was having fun.

Much was familiar. Director of Athletics Keith Mangan was at the main gate, distributing lanyards required of authorized spectators.

He started with 50; there were plenty of leftovers.

Quiet in the bleachers – click to view full-sized imag

Assistant Coach Dave Wilson was on the sideline for the umpteenth year. Some of his alumni in the various sports he has coached are in their early 50s.

Gone were throw-ins, slides, squeezing onto the bench, 40-minute halves (now 20-minute quarters), ball-retrievers, and bear hugs after scores. Since anything but incidental contact is an infraction, players used their feet to defend. And they looked like it was no big deal. Individual skills, teamwork, and conditioning were paramount. So was the discipline of refraining from techniques learned since childhood.

The two officials made sure to explain their calls. “Covid – got to stay off the body,” said one after whistling a stoppage. “It’s an indirect free kick on a Covid violation,” explained the other ref to a Waltham coach.

Athletic Director Keith Mangan – Click to view full-sized image

When Bedford opened the scoring with less than 13 minutes to play in the half, the Bucs acted like they’ve been here before, sprinting back to midfield almost in formation. Just a first bump between two players celebrated the score.

Mangan said he hopes there can be a divisional post-season tournament since the usual MIAA sectionals won’t take place. ”We’ll play for the Covid Cup,” he laughed.

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