LANDSTUHL, Germany -- For the teams involved, the first day of the DODDS-Europe Division II girls soccer tournament Monday was all about self-preservation, both individual and collective.
Coaches rushed their players off the field after each game and hurried them into the shade, encouraging exhausted players to drink water and eat fruit. In between those cooling-off periods, the teams took to the field for season-defining one-hour games under a hot, nearly cloudless German sky.
Two days of preliminary play will slice the 14-team field to eight by Wednesday morning. The divisional semifinals are set for Wednesday night, and a champion will be crowned Thursday.
Alconbury 4, Rota 1: As the reigning Division III European champions, the promoted Dragons arrived at the Division II tournament eager to prove themselves against a new crop of opponents. But first, old business beckoned.
Alconbury’s tournament opener turned out to be a rematch of last year’s Division III championship game against the Admirals, who were also boosted to Division II over the offseason. The result was nearly identical – Alconbury won last year 3-0, and cruised by the same three-goal margin Monday.
“It’s actually kind of funny. We didn’t want to underestimate them,” Dragons junior Samaris Batley said. “But we were like, ‘Oh, well, we just played you a year ago.’”
Batley did half the damage for the Dragons with two goals. Juliana Pisierra and Brooke Roberts added a goal apiece for Alconbury.
Though she looked forward to further, fresher challenges, Batley said the opener against Rota provided a smooth transition to the higher level.
“At least we know them, rather than going into our first game now knowing,” Batley said.
The ninth-seeded Dragons completed a perfect first day with a 2-1 defeat of Black Forest Academy.
AFNORTH 2, Baumholder 0: The sixth-seeded Lions pulled out a gritty shutout win over the seventh-seeded Bucs in a battle of two of the tournament’s fringe contenders.
AFNORTH freshman Grace Phillips scored a goal off a Caitlyn Helwig assist and returned the favor by assisting a Camelia Brind’Amour-Riffou goal. It’ll take that kind of teamwork for the Lions to succeed in the tournament, Phillips said.
“Just quick, smart passes,” Phillips said. “That’s what we need to win.”
Playing – and starring – in her first European soccer tournament, Phillips promptly developed a survival plan for the busy week.
“The games are really intense,” Phillips said. “Just make sure you don’t get hurt and hydrate, just keep watching yourself.”
AFNORTH completed its two-win Monday with another shutout, a 7-0 romp over Ansbach.
Naples 6, Ansbach 0: While Phillips is learning the tournament ropes, the experienced Wildcats continue to tie the bracket up in unsolvable knots.
That was the case again early Monday, as the four-time defending Division II European champions dismantled the overmatched Cougars.
Desirae Carpenter and Tyler Treat scored two goals apiece and Isabella Lucy and Alexandra Law scored once each as Naples cruised to victory.
Law, a senior midfielder playing her second season with the Wildcats, called the game a “good start” to the program’s latest title defense. But she knows the games will get tougher as more teams line up for a shot at bringing down the dynasty.
“We have quite a record to hold,” Law said. “We’re more nervous now that we’re here. Everybody’s watching us, everybody knows how we’re going to play.”
Naples beat Baumholder 4-0 in its late game.