Favorites demonstrate why in mostly lopsided affairs
The top four seeds of the DODEA-Europe Division I girls soccer bracket – Stuttgart, Ramstein, Naples and Wiesbaden – dominated the competition on the first day of the 2017 European Championships, outscoring their collective opposition 38-2 in their combined eight games.
It’s not surprising, given that all four teams each lost only once during the regular season, taking turns beating one another. It sets up two intriguing matchups Thursday evening in Reichenbach, when Stuttgart looks to avenge its only loss of the season against Wiesbaden, which beat them 3-1 less than a week ago, and Ramstein faces Naples, which looked strong in both games Wednesday.
Naples 5, Kaiserslautern 0: Naples stunned the Lady Raiders with three rapid goals, including one off a controversial penalty kick, near the end of the first half. Fifth-seeded Kaiserslautern struggled to recover, and Naples used pace and skill on the break to extend its lead even more comfortably in the second half. Sophomore Micayla Feltner scored a fantastic solo effort for her team’s fourth and was a constant threat on the shoulder of the last defender. If Naples can utilize Feltner along with a deep and quick squad, they look capable of challenging for the title.
Senior Naples defender Shiloh Houseworth, one of the team’s captains and one of three sisters on the team, said she thinks her team’s ability to trust each other and focus is key to its success so far.
“I’m proud of my team, I know we’ll always give it 100 percent,” she said. “Every new game, each new game we focus 100 percent on that and getting through that before the next one.”
Wiesbaden 4, SHAPE 0: In a rematch of an April meeting, which Wiesbaden won 2-0, the Warriors were able to double their fun, this time at the expense of a Spartan side which played well but was ultimately unable to finish chances as effectively as a rapidly-improving Wiesbaden team.
Sophomore midfielder Peggy Mathis and freshman winger Lily Hogenson each came away with two goals, all of which were scored in a first-half blitz.
“I think we can continue (this), our bond as a team is very strong,” Hogenson said. “I don’t think we could get where we are without that, we’re like a family and that helps us win.”
Wiesbaden, which wasn’t expected to beat defending champion Stuttgart last week, will face the Panthers again Thursday evening in a match that looks certain to be tight.
Division IITop seed and last year’s Division II runner-up Bitburg left no doubts as to its title-hopeful credentials with a convincing 4-0 win over Florence in its only game on the day. The Barons will face a stiffer test tomorrow against fourth-seeded Aviano, which looked impressive in its lone game as well, also defeating Florence 4-0. Aviano junior midfielder Hailey Pulliam, in particular, was a menace on both flanks and in the middle against the Italian school. If Aviano want to challenge this year, it’ll rely on Pulliam’s offense and a strong team defensive ethic to do it.
Rota, undefeated in DODEA play in the regular season, swept both entries from Rome, topping American Overseas School of Rome 2-0 after blanking Marymount 1-0. The Admirals face Black Forest Academy in a morning matchup Thursday at Landstuhl.
Bahrain will be looking to make the most of limited time as it couldn't make the trip to Germany, leading to a congested schedule Thursday. If it can win both of its games, Bahrain still has a chance to advance to Friday’s semifinals.