The night ended in a tie, and fittingly so.
It was a day of competition, but far more of cooperation for the Legacy Christian Academy and Zimmerman girls soccer teams.
The squads paired up on Friday to volunteer for Feed My Starving Children before squaring off in their regular season match.
The idea arose prior to the season, when Legacy Christian Academy moved to Section 7A.
LCA head coach Todd Manske was talking with new section opponent Zimmerman’s head coach Jeff Downing. Downing proposed the idea of the teams getting together and volunteering, then playing their match at Concordia University in St. Paul, his alma mater.
The teams boxed food in Coon Rapids, putting together packages of rice packs with soy for people in Haiti.
“The girls had a great time at Feed My Starving Children,” Manske said. “They had enough to feed 76 kids for a year, so that was really good. They tried to go as fast as they could, so we actually had a little competition with the other team. It went really well, they got a lot boxed.”
The two teams then made their way to St. Paul for the other competition, the one on the soccer field.
“We had a picture together at the end and said good luck from there,” Manske said. “The girls kind of have a good perspective of it all. It’s more than just a game. Feeding children that are starving in another country is way more important than a soccer game.”
The two teams ultimately played to a 1-1 tie late in the afternoon, battling 90-degree heat in a collegiate setting at Concordia’s Sea Foam Stadium.
“When you schedule this, it’s the first day of fall, you think it’s going to be sweatshirts and jackets and it’s 90 degrees,” Manske said. “They stuck with it. It was a great experience.”
The Lions’ record moved to 2-7-1 on the season with the draw, contending with youth and injuries as they make their way through the season.
“We’re low on the bench with two injured girls, so we’re limited to about five subs,” Manske said. “We have four seventh-graders that have been playing significant playing time, with one starter.
“The seniors have been good leaders, good morale. They are letting the girls know that it’s about more than soccer. It’s about playing for God, playing for your teammates and making good memories. When you’ve got seniors playing with seventh-graders it’s a huge age gap, but the girls love it. The seniors are very much mentors. They really grasp that.”
The Lions’ focus has been centered on loving the sport, challenging each player to think about and present the reason they compete to one another.
“This year our theme is ‘Play it like you love it,’ and everyone has to tell us why they love playing soccer,” Manske said. “Almost every one (of the seventh-graders) has had playing with the older girls and having those memories.”
The Lions also got to explore St. Paul during the day, visiting the Landmark Center and eating downtown, while returning later in the night to watch a college match between Concordia and Southwest State University. The team hopes the day will become the start of a yearly tradition.
“It was a great experience,” Manske said.