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KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – With a relentless offensive attack, Alconbury dominated Rota in the DODDS Europe Division III girls’ soccer championship game Thursday, shutting out the Admirals 3-0.

The title run was a remarkable turnaround for the Dragons, who failed to earn a regular season win last year and last played for the crown – and lost – in 2007.

Seconds after the game ended, Alconbury coach Valerie Pisierra was trying to process her team’s swift ascent to the top.

“I’m dizzy right now – I can’t even stand up,” she said. “So amazing.”

Alconbury entered post-season play as the No. 1 seed with a 5-2-2 record that included a 5-0 shutout of Rota. But the Admirals, the No. 6 seed who lost a handful of starters to graduation last year, surprised the Dragons and just about everyone else this week by shutting down Alconbury 1-0 on Monday and marching into the championship game with an undefeated post-season run.

“It was our defense that really held us through this tournament,” said Rota coach Clarice Brown. “The difference today: They broke through our defense,” she said of Alconbury.

That was the plan from the beginning, to get past Rota’s stingy defense and score early, said Samaris Batley, a midfield attacker for the Dragons.

And that’s just what Batley did, putting Alconbury up 1-0 on a penalty kick in the first half.

Batley was just getting warmed up. The sophomore, playing in her first year for Alconbury after playing club ball last year, was on fire in the second half, making numerous shots at the goal that either just missed or were blocked by Rota goalkeeper Tiffani Driscoll.

But Batley was not to be denied: She finally hit the inside of the net, drilling the ball from beyond the 20-yard line past Driscoll to give Alconbury a 2-0 lead.

The Dragons wouldn’t need the cushion.

Some minutes later, Batley had the ball again. Dribbling downfield, she dodged one defender after the next and passed the ball across the goal cage to senior Ashley Goluba, who tapped in Alconbury’s final and third goal.

Rota’s offense revived some late in the second half with a few scoring attempts, but with a comfortable lead, Alconbury’s defenders hung back and kept Rota’s attackers at bay and disrupted their passing game.

Batley and Alconbury junior left midfielder Taylor Currie, who effortlessly dribbled the ball downfield and executed well-placed passes, helped Alconbury dominate on offense, but Pisierra said her team’s depth and their ability to play together was the difference maker.

“We knew we had some really talented players this year,” she said. “We had a really deep bench.” By the time tournament play began this week, “every single one of them deserved to be on the field.”

“They have strong players,” said Keanna Garcia, a senior midfielder for Rota. “I think we fought hard.”

Brown said Rota didn’t expect to make it this far, despite finishing second in last year’s championship. “We’re rebuilding this year. We have a lot of new girls on the team who had never touched a ball,” she said. “We played hard, through the cold, the rain, the injuries.”

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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