Kameron Cleveland, a 2012 Oregon High School graduate, battles junior Kieran Sweeney for possession in the alumni game on Tuesday, Aug. 27.

The Oregon High School boys soccer alumni beat the Panthers’ varsity squad 2-1 on Tuesday, Aug. 27, at Huntoon Field.

The alumni game brings back a flood of memories for former players and has led the OHS soccer program to add sponsorships to raise money for the program.

The alumni team featured many players from last year’s team that won the WIAA Division 2 state championship and the 2017 Division 2 state runner-up team.

“It was one of the stronger and younger alumni teams we have had in a number of years,” said coach Chris Mitchell, a 1993 OHS graduate.

The game also serves as a low-risk opportunity for younger players in the program to develop and build chemistry with the returners.

“The alumni game gives us the opportunity to experiment with what system or tactics are going to best fit our team without the risk of registering a loss on our schedule,” he said.

Kevin Gasner, an organizer of the alumni game, said parents of the alumni get as excited as the players for the game.

“It gives them a chance to go back and relive those times when they all hung out on the sidelines and watched their kids play a sport they all love,” Gasner said.

The alumni struck first early in the second half on a cross by Carter Hendrickson, a 2019 graduate, in the 47th minute.

Hendrickson was a standout athlete in soccer and track at OHS. He will compete on the track this spring at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.

Oregon senior Collin Bjerke scored a game-tying goal in the 48th minute to tie the game, but alum Mike McDermid (Class of 1998) scored off a rebound in the 89th minute.

The OHS soccer program added an element of sponsorship to the game a year ago to help raise funds.

“We have never had to go out and look for sponsors, as they are always filled from businesses that are owned or worked at by alumni players,” Gasner said. “There is actually some competition each year for spots on our uniforms.”

“The absolute best part of the alumni game is staying connected with the alums that came through our program and experiencing their continued investment in OHS boys soccer and willingness to give back to the program,” Mitchell added.