CEC soccer teammates looking for provincial glory this weekend
TRURO - Whenever you see one, the other isn't far.
Cobequid Cougars teammates Charlie Hunter, left, and Richard MacNevin, have a friendship which dates back to their preschool days. This weekend, the pair is looking to add a provincial high school soccer championship to their list of memories together. The Cougars are in Coxheath today and meet the defending champion Halifax West Warriors in a 2:30 p.m. semifinal. Matthew Veno - Truro Daily News
Richard MacNevin and Charlie Hunter are more than just friends, they're practically family. The teens have a friendship which dates back to their preschool days, so, naturally, the list of memories their bond has produced over the past 14 years is as long as all four of their arms put together.
But there's one missing - a provincial high school soccer title.
"It would be like the cherry on top," MacNevin, a 17-year-old Truro resident, said.
They'll get their chance to slot that one near the top of that list this weekend in Coxheath at the NSSAF Division 1 championship. Their Cobequid Cougars take on the defending champion Halifax West Warriors Friday at 2:30 p.m. in a semifinal match. The victor takes on the winner of the other semifinal between the host Riverview Reds and Citadel Phoenix in Sunday's noon final while the losers play for bronze at 10 a.m.
"It would be a really nice way to cap off seven years playing together (since Truro junior high)," Hunter, an 18-year-old Lower Harmony resident, said. "It would be awesome."
The pair first met at the aptly named Making Friends preschool on King Street and still have a photo of themselves side-by-side as little tykes.
Although they attended different elementary schools, they were reunited at Truro Junior High School, where they rekindled their friendship and competed for the Panthers soccer team together. There, they won a pair of regional titles, the highest honour for junior high squads, before helping the Cougars to regional titles the past two seasons and provincial bronze a year ago.
So what has kept them together all this time?
"We're definitely there for each other and I think that's why it's lasted so long," MacNevin said. "We're there for each other all the time."
Never was that more clear than when MacNevin learned his mother had been diagnosed with cancer. Through the whole ordeal, Hunter never left his friend's side as Catherine battled and defeated the disease.
"It was a time when I was kind of angry," MacNevin said. "So talking to Charlie and him knowing I wasn't angry at him was really good because he was there for me no matter what kind of mood I was in. It definitely helped me a lot."
Obviously a stressful time for everyone in the MacNevin family, Hunter provided his friend an escape, someone he could get back to living a normal life with.
"To have someone there who wasn't involved with everything, it gave me a way to get away from it and not have to think about it," MacNevin said.
That's just how it works with true friends, there through thick and thin.
Aside from always having each other's back, it's not surprising the pair have remained best pals for so long.
They both have a passionate love for soccer and track and field, both are involved in student council and carry good grades, both are the youngest of families of seven - Hunter has two brothers and two sisters, MacNevin has three brothers and a sister - and both have brothers who face monumental challenges on a daily basis - Hunter's brother Matthew and MacNevin's brother Mark both have Down Syndrome.
"We just have a lot in common," Hunter said. "We can relate to each other, really, no matter what the situation."
So they're together more often than they're not and are so familiar with each other's families they can simply walk right into the other's home. They've been so close for so long, even their families have become friends. Catherine and Hunter's mother Maura regularly sit together while watching their sons play.
"Richard is a good guy, so I keep him around," Hunter said with a laugh and a playful bump of the shoulder to his friend sitting next to him.
"It's not so much everything we do it's just when we hang out there's never a dull moment," MacNevin replied laughing. "I think it's because we're both a little weird."
That chemistry has been huge for the Cobequid Cougars this season on the way to a 14-0-1 overall record, a regional championship and a 4-0 thrashing of the Dartmouth Spartans in last weekend's provincial qualifier.
"They are both great leaders and excellent players," Cougars coach Jay Foster said. "They don't need any big motivational speeches. They just come with a professional attitude and really set the tone for the rest of the team in terms of what's expected."
Both come by it honestly. Both multi-sport athletes, Hunter captained Halifax City to a national silver medal last month in Newfoundland, while MacNevin gets plenty of action with a senior men's squad in Truro, preferring the less hectic schedule to fit in his other passions of hockey and lacrosse.
The pair split time between center midfield and centre back, anchoring down both positions for the Cougars and allowing the team's potent offence a springboard to attack.
"They move the ball up the field for guys like Mike vanderpoel and Ben Gorringe," Foster said. "They solidify things at the back for us and help keep the ship steady."
But no matter what this weekend's result, nothing will change between MacNevin and Hunter.
"I'll be there at his next hockey game," Charlie said. "I'll be there yelling at him."
On Twitter: @tdnmatt
NSSAF Division 1 Boys Soccer Championship
When: Friday and Saturday
Host: Riverview Reds
Format: The tournament's four teams compete in a pair of semifinals on Friday with winners moving on to Saturday's championship game while losers play for bronze, also on Saturday
Schedule: Friday - Riverview vs. Citadel, noon; Cobequid vs. Halifax West, 2:30 p.m.
Saturday - Bronze medal, 10 a.m.; Championship, noon