More than 40 years ago, two Moorestown natives, Paul Harrison and Brian O’Connor, bonded over their love of soccer and from it they formed a long-lasting friendship. Today, the two continue to play the game they love together on the field for the Global Premier Soccer Gold team as part of an over-56 division in Massachusetts.
Dating back to the early 1970s, Harrison, who attended the Moorestown Friends School, first met O’Connor, who attended Moorestown High School, as competitors. However, after Harrison graduated from high school in 1972, he went on to found a Moorestown United team alongside Kurt Klaus Jr. that was comprised of players from both schools.
“Anyone who played high school soccer in Moorestown in that era knew Paul Harrison,” O’Connor said. “He lived on Main Street, next to Moorestown Friends, and ran pick-up games all summer on the fields down below his house. So we met as rivals but became friends and teammates.”
Competing in winter and summer leagues, Harrison simultaneously captained both Moorestown United and the Moorestown Friends School teams. Eventually he went on to play varsity soccer at the University of Pennsylvania, but throughout his undergraduate career, he remained committed to running the Moorestown United summer-league teams.
When Harrison decided to relocate to Concord, Mass., to teach history at the Middlesex School, one of the country’s best private schools, he soon after led the boys’ and girls’ teams there to numerous championships. He now serves as the school’s development director.
“[Harrison] continues to be an excellent coach, field manager and player, with a wickedly dipping shot that still eludes hapless goaltenders,” O’Connor said.
Similarly, upon graduating high school, O’Connor secured a spot on the Harvard College varsity soccer team. After completing his bachelor’s degree, he began to coach and teach at the Saint Albans School located in Washington, D.C.
Next, his career path led him into the fields of both journalism and politics and to his current position as vice president of public affairs at Citizens Energy Corporation, a non-profit energy company founded by former Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II, located in Boston.
Keeping the spirit of Moorestown United alive — albeit in a different state and at a much different pace — the two reconnected close to 10 years ago as they returned to the field together on an over-50s team. Moving up in the age category together, the two enjoy playing together today just as they did decades ago.
“We’d see each other now and then, but he played on teams close to where he lived in the western suburbs and I played on teams in the city where I lived,” O’Connor said. “After my team folded, I joined the over-50s team he’d been playing on for a few years — so that’s how Moorestown United got re-united.”
This year, the GPS team went undefeated and untied, 12–0, during the regular season and playoffs and outscored their opponents, 72–3. Harrison credits this success to having a team full of players with a lower average age than their competitors.
“Our next stop is over-63,” Harrison said. “Don’t know if we will make it, but we’re still having fun after all these years and remembering our Moorestown United days.”