BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Robert Bouknight was anticipating with relish what was coming as the defending champion American School of Milan and the American Overseas School of Rome took the field Saturday evening for the European Division III soccer championship.

The private schools — heavy with Italian players — play a different level of soccer than their DODDS rivals, said Bouknight, a midfielder for Hohenfels.

He said the Italians play nothing but soccer, and they’re so much better than the rest of the field they should be playing for the Division I crown rather than the D-III title.

AOSR, led by the offensive talents of senior Nicolo Fano and sophomore phenomenon and tournament MVP Davide Lelli, turned out to be the best of the best, taking the championship game 6-3.

In addition to the tough competition, the championship game was on the same day as the division’s semifinal games because of a shortened tournament.

Milan coach Robert Marjerrison and AOSR coach Andrea Desideri asked that the semifinals be shortened to 30 minutes from 80 minutes, but were voted down by the other coaches.

Two games in one day “was a killer,” Desideri said. It didn’t help that the first of the pair for AOSR was a 3-2 victory over Bamberg that required overtime. Milan riddled Hohenfels 6-1 in the other semifinal.

AOSR’s victory was not a two-man show. The Falcons won with a balanced team that passed the ball generously.

“If they’re selfish, they’re out,” Desideri said of his team’s willingness to pass.

The game started fast. Fano scored for AOSR in the first two minutes. Five minutes later, Milan tied the game.

AOSR led 3-2 at half, with one of its goals coming on a penalty kick by junior Paolo Murmura.

Then AOSR began exploiting Milan’s weaknesses. Milan striker Miguel Belziti was one of the quickest players on the field, but his team couldn’t make consistent progress against AOSR’s stoppers, while Milan was having trouble containing Fano and Lelli.

With the score 4-2 and about five minutes left in the game, Lelli scored the backbreaker. Fano put a pass right on Lelli’s toe while the sophomore was in full stride, and Lelli did the rest for a 5-2 lead.

The American Schools in Italy League rivals have played each other for the Division III championship the past two years. They are so familiar with each other, at times each team seemed to know what the other was doing before they did it.

“They’re the team we always end up playing,” AOSR halfback Zachary Cavasin said.

And this time, the Falcons got the best of the rivalry.

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