KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa – With season-ending district and Far East tournaments just around the corner, girls soccer gets the first touch of tournament action when the annual American School In Japan soccer festival convenes on Friday.

Seven teams from Japan and Okinawa gather at Mustang Valley on ASIJ’s Chofu campus for some friendly matches on Friday, followed by single-elimination bracket play with consolation on Saturday.

The host Mustangs welcome Kadena and Kubasaki of Okinawa along with Yokohama, Seisen, Christian Academy Japan and Sacred Heart.

Kadena’s Pam Barrett remembers Kubasaki taking some hard knocks in the ASIJ tournament only to come away with Far East Division I titles twice in successive years the next month. The senior midfielder says she hopes her Panthers can likewise benefit.

“It will be nice to get a look at what ASIJ is doing,” Barrett said of a Mustangs team that’s 4-1-1 and led by freshman transfer Ava Vander Louw (seven goals, five assists).

Barrett also notes that CAJ is 5-2-2 against varsity teams, the best the Knights have ever done – including a 2-2 tie vs. the Mustangs, the first time CAJ has done anything but lose against ASIJ. “CAJ has surprised me; it’ll be good to see what they’re doing,” she said.

It’s not as though Kadena is having problems – the Panthers will enter the tournament as its only unbeaten team. They’re 13-0, led by Adrianna Gomez’s 26 goals and nine assists, Phoebe Bills 14 goals and 10 helpers and Barrett, whose 17 assists lead the team.

Still, “we definitely have some stuff we need to work on,” Barrett said. “We’ve been getting closer as a team. This will make it better.”

Elsewhere, track wraps up its regular season with meets at Kadena, Humphreys and Yokota, the week before each holds their district championship meets and last-chance qualifiers for Far East, slated for May 21-23 at Yokota.

Kinnick is at Robert D. Edgren and Matthew C. Perry at Zama in baseball and softball, while Perry visits E.J. King and Yokota travels to Edgren in soccer, with next week’s DODEA-Japan tournaments looming.

Seoul American hosts Daegu’s boys, while Humphreys hosts Osan and visits Yongsan; the Falcons and Blackhawks are vying for the second and third seeds in the Korea Blue boys soccer tournament next week.

Humphreys’ girls also have a shot at the Korea Blue tournament second seed; they can earn that with wins Friday over the Cougars and Saturday at the Guardians. The Blackhawks blanked the Cougars 3-0 the first time they met on March 24.

The Korea Blue tournaments are slated for Wednesday and next Saturday, the boys at Taejon Christian and girls at Daegu.

Twitter: @ornauer_stripes

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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