Soccer game

Brighton goalkeeper scores, wrestler plays first game against Hartland

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BRIGHTON – Aiden Brown has never played an organized football game in his life – in his life – but there he was getting important minutes for Brighton in a Tuesday night rivalry game against Hartland.

Kiernan Dunn never played anything other than goalie in high school, but there he was scoring a penalty kick and putting pressure on the player who earlier in the game was his counterpart in the opposite thread.

Brighton take their rivalry with Hartland seriously, but not so seriously that they won’t allow two seniors to have experiences they’ll always remember on senior night at Sloan Field.

It helped the Bulldogs score just 2 minutes and 25 seconds into the game, giving them some breathing room in what turned out to be a 3-1 victory over the Eagles.

“It’s fun to get the guys up there and remember why we’re here which is to have fun, first and foremost,” said Brighton manager Mark Howell.

Brown, a starter for Brighton’s runners-up wrestling team, was a long way from making the football squad when he decided to give it a try this season. His only football experience was playing pick-up games, while almost everyone who plays for Brighton has years of travel experience.

He participated in all of the football team’s off-season activities, but was not selected. He was offered the opportunity to become the team leader, which he accepted.

“My friends, I’ve always played with them in the summer every day for a few summers,” Brown said. “They wanted me to try, to do my best. During the summer I worked. It didn’t end the way I wanted, but the coach offered me the manager’s spot and time to play on senior night, so I guess it all worked out.

Experiencing the Brighton-Hartland rivalry on the football pitch was different from what Brown is used to on the wrestling mat. In wrestling, he faced Hartland in the state quarterfinals in 2018.

“In wrestling, you can get excited; it’s all up to you,” Brown said. “If you win your match, you have done your job. On the football field, you constantly have to work together. It doesn’t matter who passes the ball to you. You just have to focus on what you’re doing. »

Brown, who is not on Brighton’s roster, received a pink No 22 jersey on Tuesday as the football team took part in the school’s Cancer Awareness Week.

“He didn’t play football a day in his life,” Howell said. “But he put in hours and wanted to be part of it. When he wasn’t on the team, he wanted to be a team leader. He comes to every practice, comes to every game, roots the team, takes the stats. He’s just as important in the team as anyone else, so we really wanted to bring him out today as a senior.

Dunn has years of football experience, but almost exclusively as a goalkeeper. With his team leading 2-0 at halftime, Dunn changed his jersey and played forward.

His persistence in net for Hartland paid off when he was fouled by defender Adam Kahl and earned a penalty with 37:34 left in the game. He buried a shot in the middle of the net for his first career goal.

“I’ve never really scored before,” Dunn said. “It’s a unique feeling. I always wanted to play on the field. Senior Night was the perfect occasion. We were leading 2-0; it was the perfect time to fit in.

Brighton struck straight away when Drew Tappen scored after a long Lucas Vasconcelos free-kick with 37:35 remaining in the first half. Nick Cassar made it 2-0 with 5:35 left before halftime thanks to a long shot from a pass from Michael Kramer.

“They came out strong in both halves,” Hartland coach Andrew Kartsounes said. “We conceded a goal early on. You just can’t do that in this league, give up those early goals in the halves, because then you’re chasing the game all the time. It made it difficult for us.

After Dunn made it 3-0 with his penalty, Cade Kaighen scored Hartland’s only goal with 36:21 remaining.

Brighton (11-4-1) extended their unbeaten streak against Hartland (5-10-1) to 29 games. The Bulldogs are 28-0-1 against the Eagles since losing 1-0 on September 6, 2006.

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Contact Bill Khan at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BillKhan.