Aviano captures U.S. Forces-Europe Soccer Championship
October 24, 2010
AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — After four days of kicking the soccer ball around the field, there wasn’t a lot left Sunday to separate the teams from Aviano and Lakenheath.
In fact, about two thirds of the way through the final game of the U.S. Forces-Europe Soccer Championship, the score was tied and overtime was starting to look likely.
But then Allen Esqueda sailed a kick toward Lakenheath goalkeeper Juante Smith. Aviano’s Luke Mornini outraced Lakenheath’s Scott Reis to the ball and slipped it by Smith into the left corner of the goal, giving the Dragons a 2-1 victory and the tournament title.
“We were evenly matched,” Aviano coach Justin Foulsham said. “We had to be patient and let the opportunities come to us. And that’s what we did.”
Each team had several opportunities to score throughout the contest, but neither could convert until the second half.
Aviano, which went unbeaten in the tournament, struck first. Sean Ketterick headed in Rocco Archina’s free kick a few minutes into the second half. But Lakenheath answered just minutes later when Brian Liston-Clark got past the Aviano defense and booted the ball from the left side into the right corner of the goal for the equalizer. It was the only goal Aviano gave up during the tournament.
Each team had good chances to score in the opening half, but couldn’t convert. Smith successfully challenged a shot from Aviano’s Rojet Wakis, but had to come out of the box to do so. Mornini had fallen down in the scramble, but got back up to kick the ball at an empty net. His kick was a few inches too high, though, and sailed over the net.
Lakenheath responded with a shot from Shawn West that hit the crossbar and bounced back to Liston-Clark, whose header was deflected away by Aviano goalkeeper Patrick Wilsey.
Wilsey and Smith each had six saves, with Aviano holding a 14-10 shots-on-goal advantage.
As far as the home field advantage went, Aviano’s biggest plus was that it could field a full team. Glynis Liston, the Eagles’ coach, said a few players couldn’t make the trip from England for the tournament and two more who did had to leave before Sunday’s contest.
“We had two rookie defenders, but they played well,” she said. “Aviano was more aggressive and in a different tournament, with different style of officiating, it might have cost them.”
Ramstein, the defending champion, downed Spangdahlem, 1-0, for third place.
The all-tournament team: Everett Leseburg and Kwaur Opoliu from Spangdahlem; Andrew Sylvester, Brian Mattias and Rolando Crossdale from Ramstein; Janusz Jaworek and Liston-Clark from Lakenheath; Ernesto Lozano, Kyle Nowicki, Wilsey and Mornini from Aviano.