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Rene Rico, left, of U.S. Naval Hospital Camp Lester and Phillip Sawyerr of Iwakuni Air Station, Japan, battle for the ball in a match on Monday.

Rene Rico, left, of U.S. Naval Hospital Camp Lester and Phillip Sawyerr of Iwakuni Air Station, Japan, battle for the ball in a match on Monday. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — With memories of their 2-0 championship defeat in last year’s tournament still burning in their minds, 3rd Marine Logistics Group began the journey toward Marine Forces Pacific Regional Soccer Tournament redemption with a solid victory in its opening match on Monday.

Victor Aguayo scored the go-ahead goal in the 31st minute and Alex Briceno, Joshua Helms and Michael Stephens added goals as 3rd MLG scored three times in the second half to down 3rd Marine Division/Expeditionary Force 4-1.

“Good start. Very good start,” 3rd MLG coach Nick Peters said. “Initially, the players had butterflies, but in the second half, they settled down and played their game.”

Division and 3rd MLG are two of five Marine Corps squads battling for honors in the five-day tournament.

Ten players will be selected for the All-Marine tryout camp Jan. 3-15 at San Diego. They’ll vie with Marines from the East and West Coast regions for berths on the All-Marine team competing in the All-Armed Forces tournament Jan. 16-23, 2007, at a site to be determined.

That serves as a qualifier for the All-Armed Forces team playing in the International Military Sports Council (CISM) tournament Feb. 3-12, 2007, at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Long before that, Peters and 3rd MLG hope to quash the memories of last year’s championship loss to 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, which isn’t participating in this year’s tournament due to deployments and other duty commitments.

“Motivated” is how Peters described his charges, many of whom return from last year’s final. “They’re excited. They felt last year’s final was a heartbreaker, but they’ve come back this year to do their best. The key is for them to play as a team. That’s where the victories come from.”

Chalking up that heartbreaking championship loss to experience, Peters says he and his players plan to take seriously every team they encounter.

“In the game of soccer, teams you least expect to surprise you will do just that,” Peters said. “We have to play our game to the best of our ability and not take anything or anybody for granted.”

Round-robin play continues through Wednesday, followed by the single-elimination playoffs starting Thursday and concluding with Friday’s championship match at 6 p.m. at Foster Athletics Complex’s Field 1.

Marine Forces Pacific soccer standings

Marine Forces Pacific soccer standings

W L Pct. GF GA Pts

MCB Camp Butler 2 0 1.000 6 1 6

3rd MLG 1 0 1.000 4 1 3

Iwakuni 1 0 1.000 1 0 3

Camp Lester Hospital 0 2 .000 1 5 0

3rd MarDiv/EF 0 2 .000 1 6 0

Monday’s summaries

Division 0 0 0

Base 1 1 2

Goals: Base, Andrew Richard 2 (2).

Hospital 0 0 0

Iwakuni 1 0 1

Goal: Iwakuni, Tyler Faught 1 (1). Sent off—Iwakuni, Joseph Napoleon, 57th minute, unsporting behavior.

Division 1 0 1

3rd MLG 1 3 4

Goals: 3rd MLG, Michael Stephens 1 (1), Victor Aguayo 1 (1), Alex Briceno 1 (1), Joshua Helms 1 (1). Division, Khanh Nguyen 1 (1).

Hospital 0 1 1

Base 2 2 4

Goals: Base, Juan Aguirre 2 (2), Andrew Richard 1 (3), Carlos Fogarthy 1 (1). Hospital, Scott Resnick 1 (1).

Stripes in 7

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