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In less than two weeks, teams from all over DODEA-Europe’s considerable footprint will gather in the Kaiserslautern Military Community for the European soccer championships. Entering the second-to-last weekend of the regular season, there appears to be at least one championship contender from nearly every country on the DODEA-Europe map.

Italy looks poised to present two formidable challengers at the Division I boys level. Naples saw its season-long winning streak end Saturday, but even that outcome - a scoreless tie with a very talented Stuttgart squad - suggests its viability as a championship contender. Vicenza, meanwhile, beat that same Stuttgart team 4-3 and blanked Vilseck 5-0 over a highly successful weekend.

Elsewhere in Italy, the Marymount boys play two final tune-ups this weekend against Naples and Aviano before attempting to wrest back their Division II crown from Bahrain. Florence is looking like an immediate force at the Division II level on both the boys and girls side. And the Naples girls, once a Division II soccer dynasty, are looking to rebuild momentum after taking their first loss of the season Saturday, a 7-3 defeat against Stuttgart.

Even as Italian teams prepare for deep postseason runs, threats will arrive in Germany from the north as well.

England-based Alconbury is a strong bet to repeat as Division III girls European champion. The Dragons are 3-0 in divisional play this year and are coming off an impressive 2-0 shutout win over Division I International School of Brussels.

In Belgium, the SHAPE girls rank among the season’s breakout squads. The Spartans fell from the ranks of the unbeaten on Saturday with a 3-1 loss to Ramstein, but even that game proved that the upstart contender belongs in the conversation with DODEA-Europe’s elite. The ISB boys, last year’s Division I European runner-up, accelerate what has been a light spring schedule with three games over regular season’s last five days.

AFNORTH, DODEA-Europe’s representative from Netherlands, has rivalled SHAPE in the race for DODEA-Europe’s most explosive offense. The Lions, who fell to Hohenfels in last year’s title game, scored 11 goals over two games last weekend, including a 4-1 win over Division I Lakenheath.

That leaves tournament host country Germany, home to DODEA-Europe’s largest programs and some of its top championship contenders.

On the girls side, Ramstein and Stuttgart figure to prolong their annual rivalry for the Division I championship, while those two schools are also on a long list of potential Division I boys championship outfits that also includes Kaiserslautern and Wiesbaden. Black Forest Academy, meanwhile, has been dominant in both boys and girls action and will make a run at Division II title sweep at the tournament, which runs May 18-21 around the KMC.

broome.gregory@stripes.com

Twitter: @broomestripes


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