MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — From the moment freshman Casey Alexander stepped on the practice field to compete for a spot on E.J. King’s boys soccer team, coach Michael Erickson said there was “no doubt” that she belonged.
“She’s the man. She’s an absolutely beautiful player,” Erickson said Monday, opening day of the 2007 Far East High School Boys Class A Soccer Tournament at Iwakuni’s Penny Lake Fields 1 and 2.
E.J. King, a tiny high school on Sasebo Naval Base in southwestern Japan, doesn’t have a girls soccer program. Only two girls tried out, Erickson said, for the boys team in February, and Alexander earned her starting role immediately.
Erickson spoke highly of his left forward, who’s been playing soccer since the age of 5.
“She is as skilled as anybody on the team,” he said. “She’s good with the left foot or right foot, she’s smart, she doesn’t make mistakes, she plays as tough as anybody we have.”
To teammates, Alexander is just another member of the squad.
“I’m OK with it,” Alexander said. “It’s just like playing with girls, only it’s guys.”
To a man, the Cobras roundly welcomed their female teammate, midfielder David Heitstuman said.
“At first, we were skeptical, but when we saw her play, we were impressed. She’s an asset to the team,” Heitstuman said.
Perry girls’ losing streak to Osan comes crashing downKate Cutshall demonstrated Monday why her teammates call her the “Berlin Wall.”
The freshman goalkeeper saved three straight penalty-kick shootout attempts as her Matthew C. Perry Samurai outlasted two-time defending Far East Girls Class A Tournament champion Osan American 2-1, winning the shootout by the same margin.
“My stomach was going on and on,” Cutshall said. “I just had to keep my eye on the ball because if I didn’t, we’d lose it. What an adrenaline rush.”
Not since the tournament began in 2002 had Perry ever beaten Osan, until Monday.
“You see the way they celebrated, you’d think they’d just won the World Cup. Doesn’t happen often here at Iwakuni,” coach Chris Anderson said of the Samurai, who earned the No. 2 seed into the single-elimination playoffs that began Tuesday. The championship is Wednesday.
“It’s amazing,” freshman midfielder Heather Hyson said. “It’s the first ice cream scoop on the sundae we’ll enjoy on Wednesday.”
Kadena girls turn focus to Class AA four-peatYOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Jennifer Abel’s record-book rewrite is complete.
The senior striker shattered her own Pacific goal-scoring record for a season, notching her 71st tally in Monday’s 4-0 shutout of Hong Kong International as the Far East Girls Class AA tournament got under way at Yokota High School.
“I’m very happy for her,” coach Hoa Nguyen said. “She’s played for me for four years and she’s done so many things for us.”
With the record in the books, Nguyen, Abel and the Panthers turned to their next order of business: trying for an unprecedented fourth straight tournament title.
“We got over the hump,” Nguyen said. “Now, we work on getting to Friday. That’s our goal.”
Yokota veteran, Kadena rookie score in bunchesKADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — No sooner had folks gotten comfortable in their bleacher seats Monday than they were treated to some pitch pyrotechnics courtesy of four-year Yokota veteran midfielder Stefan Welch and Kadena freshman striker Stanley Schrock.
Welch lit up the board twice in just the first minute, going on to post four goals as the Panthers clipped the Robert D. Edgren Eagles 5-2. Meanwhile, Schrock spread out five goals over three matches as the defending champion Panthers started strongly, with two victories and a tie.
“Being with us for four years is rare for any player, and somebody like Stefan who just loves the game and is a high-caliber player, he makes me a better coach,” Yokota’s Tim Pujol said.
“Not a bad performance,” coach Tom McKinney said of Schrock. “He showed up for us at the right time. He figures to be a very important part of the team in the future. It’s great that he’s coming out now.”