‘Harry’s Game’ to feature UNCW soccer vs. Duke; former Seahawks soaring at pro level

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Head Coach Aidan Heaney and the UNCW men’s soccer team entertain Duke at UNCW Soccer Stadium for the fourth annual “Harry’s Game” on Saturday, April 16 to benefit children with special needs.

The Seahawks will take on the Blue Devils at 6 p.m., with all proceeds going to the TOPSoccer Program and the Special Olympics of New Hanover County. Admission is $5 for adults, and youths 15 and under will be admitted free. For groups of 10 or more fans, a special rate of $3 per person is available.

Harry's Game is set for Saturday, April 16 at UNCW Soccer Stadium. Photo courtesy- UNCW Athletics
Harry’s Game is set for Saturday, April 16 at UNCW Soccer Stadium. Photo courtesy- UNCW Athletics

TOPSoccer is a program of the U.S. Youth Soccer; its acronym stands for “The Outreach Program for Soccer.” The community-based program typically pairs travel or league soccer players with young athletes with disabilities who also have a love for the game.

“Harry’s Game is aimed at bringing attention, awareness and acceptance for people with Down Syndrome as well as other physical and intellectual disabilities,” said Heaney. “My wife, Stephanie, and I welcomed our son Harry into the world four years ago. He was born with Down Syndrome, and I thought that I could use soccer as a vehicle to increase awareness and understanding.”

Gates will open at 4 p.m. for an assortment of different events. The Seahawks will host a free soccer clinic before the game, with a bounce house, music and face painting for children. Free food and drinks will also be available.

“All game jerseys are up for auction, and between that and donations, we have raised between $3,000 and $4,000 each year,” said Heaney.

UNCW battled Wake Forest to a scoreless draw in last year’s “Harry’s Game,” putting UNCW’s record at 1-0-2 in the event.

“These programs have been very gracious to come down to Wilmington and play, and I always make sure they get to meet Harry pre-game so that they get a real sense of what Down Syndrome is, and speak a little bit about what their participation means for our community,” Heaney added. “The game is not just to highlight my son, but to recognize all the kids and families in our community dealing with similar challenges.”

Harry’s Game Results

Date                             Result

April 6, 2013                  UNCW 1, North Carolina 1
April 12, 2014                UNCW 2, N.C. State 0
April 18, 2015                UNCW 0, Wake Forest 0

UNCW standouts in the United Soccer League

 Sean Melvin has zero goals allowed and six saves in two matches played for unbeaten Vancouver Whitecaps II (2-0-1). The rookie keeper made three saves to record his second clean sheet as Vancouver earned one point following a scoreless draw against Sacramento Republic FC (2-0-1) in front of 3,057 fans during the clubs home-opener at Thunderbird Stadium in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Second-year player Jacob VanCompernolle has played all 270 minutes for Swope Park Rangers of the United Soccer League this season. The Major League Soccer FC Kansas City affiliate is off to a 2-0-1 start and VanCompernolle will get a chance to re-connect with Melvin when their two sides square off on Wednesday, April 27.