KINGS POINT, N.Y. -- Earlier this year, the North Shore United Boys Under-9 and U-10 teams attended a New York Red Bulls game and noticed that youth soccer players escorted players onto the field.
"They were looking from the stands and they were dreaming to do the same thing," North Shore United Soccer Association club director Alex Fridman said.
Little did the North Shore players realize that they would be living their dream several months later.
During pre-game introductions of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy's 2-0 win over Juniata College last Saturday, United players escorted Mariners players to midfield.
"It was very exciting for the kids," Fridman said. "It's your community, so when you have a local team to escort to the field, it was exciting for them."
Fridman noted that his players took their task, the national anthem and the game seriously.
"For them it's super great when the [national anthem] is playing," he said. "They were frozen listening to the music."
Children at that age have been known to have short attention spans, but Fridman said that they focused on the game.
"The kids were [into] the game even without the parents around to tell them, 'Watch the game. Watch the game,' " he said.
Mariners coach Mike Smolens was thrilled to have North Shore United attend the game.
"We're pleased to support teams in our community," he said. "It was great having coach Fridman and his guys out there with us."
North Shore United, a Port Washington, N.Y. club that is a member of the Just Say Soccer League, has four boys teams – U-8, U-9 and U-10 at the travel level and a U-10 side that plays recreationally. The club also has two girls teams at U-11 and U-13.
The club hopes to return to Tomb Field for the Kings Point-Moravian match on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 6 p.m.
"This is our team," Fridman said. "Never mind they play for a college team. They live nearby. It's from my town, my neighborhood."
Photo: The Mariners met with players from North Shore United at their game on Saturday. Photo courtesy of North Shore United.