They’ll gladly take those DODDS Japan soccer tournament titles, but it’s not as if Zama American’s boys and Nile C. Kinnick’s girls are Far East tournament-ready just yet.
Much remains to be done, coaches of both teams say, especially after they rolled through the first four matches of the three-day tournaments unbeaten, only for the Trojans boys to lose their finale 2-1 to E.J. King and the Red Devils girls deadlock with host Yokota 1-1.
“Every game feels like a fight, no matter who we play,” first-year Zama boys coach Marc Norton said. “It still seems like anyone can beat us if we don’t play well.”
The schedule that some teams played in late February, back-to-back tournaments for E.J. King and Matthew C. Perry, put the Trojans at what Norton calls a disadvantage.
“We’ve been at it for two weeks and we’re still learning the system,” he said. “But the guys are working hard and the defense is solid. Rafael Morales and Ryan Walls, they’re just hounding everybody.”
So, too, the Yokota girls did their best to shut down Kinnick’s leading scoring weapons, Kaile Johnson and Athena Peerson, with coach Nicole Angel putting Anju Yamanaka and Katelyn Sult on them. Each goal in the match was a penalty kick, by Yokota’s Emily Beemsterboer and Kinnick’s Johnson.
“We played good soccer the first day, but the last two days we came out flat,” longtime Red Devils coach Nico Hindie said, adding that Yokota played “really well,” outshooting Kinnick by more than a 2-1 margin.
“We’re working on building our transition from defense to offense and on our shooting and finishing,” Hindie said.
E.J. King’s Ricky Salinas enjoyed what coach Mark Constantine called a “stopper’s dream.” Hobbled somewhat by a leg injury, Constantine put Salinas on a wing, where he took a crossing pass and buried it for the Cobras’ first goal against the Trojans.
Over in Korea, Evie Garrido scored twice as Osan American won 2-1 at Daegu, while the boys played to a scoreless draw, which still made Warriors coach Larry Knierim happy.
“We would have liked it to be in the other column, but it was a hard-fought match and we’re happy to be in it,” he said.
Kubasaki’s Armes continues comeback
He says he’s not yet 100 percent back from stress fractures that caused him to miss most of the last two months of the 2012 season, but Kubasaki sophomore Erik Armes’ times in Saturday’s Island Wide Meet at Kadena High School indicated otherwise.
Armes ran the 3,200 in 10:16.31, beating Kadena’s Hunter Ficene by 23 seconds, then edged teammate Ryan Bugler in the 1,600 4:42.03 to 4:46.34, pulling away at the end after Bugler set the pace for him.
“I can still feel some slack in my intervals in practice,” Armes said of his continued comeback. “It’s coming. It’ll be there.”
Despite such talk, Bugler called Armes’ 61-second final lap in the 1,600 “impressive.”
Bugler, a senior, transferred to Kubasaki from Okinawa Christian School International, along with junior sprinter Rahman Farnell at mid-school year. Bugler and Armes are just one of several pairs of training partners at Kubasaki and Kadena, girls runners Jessica Ircink and Allie Reichenberg at the former and Andrew Kilkenny and Carlos Gutierrez at the latter. “Good twosomes,” Bugler said.
Seoul American, Daegu accelerate diamond openers
Because of a scheduling conflict – Daegu’s prom is on May 11 – the Warriors asked Seoul American that their set of baseball and softball “friendlies” on Saturday be counted as regular-season DODDS Korea games, and the Falcons agreed. The Falcons proved more than ready for the challenge, with baseball winning 20-5 in three innings and softball 16-7 in four. … Kubasaki’s baseball and girls soccer teams took some hard knocks on Saturday, the Dragons girls falling 6-0 to Itoman, and the baseball team losing two one-run games to Diamonds Base Ball Club, a Japanese team.