Weymouth — When Mike Slonina first founded A Shot for Life over a decade ago, even he knew how quickly his foundation would grow in the midst of a never-ending war with cancer. I had a hard time imagining
But now, in 2023, his project has morphed from an annual basketball fundraiser into a multi-sport community movement. What are the latest events to be added? It’s the ASFL Courage Cup, a series of all-star soccer games held at the Union Point Sports Complex last month.
On Saturday, Karenna Beckstein joined the organization’s storied history as the latest member of a memorable string of athletes.
Groton Sr. and Holy Cross scored two goals, including wins with about 10 minutes left in regulation, as Team Blue won the crown with a 3-2 victory over Team White in the Women’s Courage Cup showcase. .
“I think[these games]were very different,” said Slonina. “I think it aligns with the events of ‘A Shot For Life.’ I think the boys approach it with an All-Star Game feel. They celebrate together. Lots of banter. They do.” is competitive, but I think the girls really bring it to each other.
In stark contrast to the Men’s All-Star Game on January 14, play started early in this game and ended in a thrilling fashion. It didn’t take long for someone to mount an attack, as Beckstein put a shot into the net to give the team his Blues his 1–0 lead in his first minute.
That score held until about 20 minutes when Ursuline’s Lily Gibbs fired a rocket into the top corner of the cage making it a 2-0 contest.
But Team White had an answer shortly after. Nauset Jr.’s Olivia Averard battled for a loose ball and tore home his shot which he cut to 2-1. Austin Prep’s Sidney Deloche added an equalizer soon afterwards, entering the half with both sides deadlocked at 2-all.
With little room to spare, Beckstein found himself holding the ball about 35 yards out of the net. However, she realized she had a little more space to work with and decided to uncork her prayer shot.
“I remember taking the ball from a throw-in,” Beckstein said after the game. “Then there was a big bounce and it passed over my head. ”
The ball drifted for eternity, gracefully leaping over the outstretched hand of the opposing goalkeeper to seal the win for Team Blue. As a result, Beckstein was later named his MVP of the game.
Acton-Boxboro standout player and Fairfield committed Kacie Benn rounded out the day’s events by winning the ASFL Crossbar Challenge.
According to Slonina, the last two Courage Cup matches have raised $90,000, and that number is expected to rise further. Proceeds will benefit tandem Car-T cell therapy research at Massachusetts General Hospital.
In a similar style to the Courage Cup, A Shot for Life will feature separate lacrosse competitions on February 12th and 26th, with a soccer showcase in April. Slonina plans to continue building in the future.
“ASFL football next year will be a little different than this,” said Slonina. “We’re talking to the players and giving their input on how we can do this better and we’re going to grow from here. But it’s a really good start and I think it’s cool for these players, They are part of so many things, some of them fade into history, some stay, what they did here, the impact will be felt for a very long time. The accomplishment of joining and starting this is like a gym banner that you can always look back on.”