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American Overseas School of Rome’s Lorenzo Di Gregorio upends Tommy Egan of Naples in the boys Division II final at the DODEA-Europe soccer championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany, Thursday, May 19, 2022. Naples defeated their Italy rivals 1-0.

American Overseas School of Rome’s Lorenzo Di Gregorio upends Tommy Egan of Naples in the boys Division II final at the DODEA-Europe soccer championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany, Thursday, May 19, 2022. Naples defeated their Italy rivals 1-0. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – Because of the spread-out nature of DODEA-Europe, it’s not at all uncommon for a team to be unfamiliar with an opponent at a season-ending tournament.

Then there are the cases such as the Division II boys championship game Thursday between Naples and the American Overseas School of Rome.

“Both teams want to win,” Naples coach Dirk Lambertson said after his team emerged with the narrowest of victories – a 1-0 victory over the Falcons. “And they both want to beat each other.

“I think deep down, they both respect each other and each other’s talents. Monday, when we saw [AOSR] play, we said, ‘that’s the team we have to beat to win this tournament.”

Naples keeper Alex Althafer gets ready to stop a shot by AOSR’s Renato Mauro Boccanelli as teammate Tommy Egan helps out in the boys Division II final at the DODEA-Europe soccer championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany, Thursday, May 19, 2022. Naples defeated their Italy rivals 1-0.

Naples keeper Alex Althafer gets ready to stop a shot by AOSR’s Renato Mauro Boccanelli as teammate Tommy Egan helps out in the boys Division II final at the DODEA-Europe soccer championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany, Thursday, May 19, 2022. Naples defeated their Italy rivals 1-0. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Of course, Lambertson already had a good idea of that. The Wildcats defeated the Falcons 2-1 during the regular season. And then lost 1-0 in the tournament.

The last two games were a bit chippy. OK, maybe more than a bit. Fortunately, the referee doesn’t actually hand out yellow cards in soccer. He just displays the same one – over and over again sometimes.

Connor Wallace of Naples celebrates his goal against AOSR in the boys Division II final at the DODEA-Europe soccer championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany, Thursday, May 19, 2022. It was all the Wildcats would need as they defeated their Italy rivals 1-0.

Connor Wallace of Naples celebrates his goal against AOSR in the boys Division II final at the DODEA-Europe soccer championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany, Thursday, May 19, 2022. It was all the Wildcats would need as they defeated their Italy rivals 1-0. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Fittingly, it was the Wildcat who most often carries his emotions on his sleeve – Connor Wallace – who scored the difference maker in the first half. Naples’ defense, energy-sapping temperatures and four days of playing soccer made the score hold up.

“Connor has a very good sense of the field,” said Lambertson, who is retiring from coaching after 13 years at Naples. “He sees things that others don’t.”

Naples’ Henri Schneider tries to separate AOSR’s Zane El Kilany from the ball in the boys Division II final at the DODEA-Europe soccer championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany, Thursday, May 19, 2022. Naples defeated their Italy rivals 1-0.

Naples’ Henri Schneider tries to separate AOSR’s Zane El Kilany from the ball in the boys Division II final at the DODEA-Europe soccer championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany, Thursday, May 19, 2022. Naples defeated their Italy rivals 1-0. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Falcons coach Giacomo Castelli gave credit to the Wildcats for the victory, saying the game was similar to the one the two teams played in the tournament, only with a different winner.

“We scored first and then packed it in on defense and that’s what they did today,” he said.

The Naples Wildcats celebrate their Division II title after defeating AOSR 1-0, in the boys Division II final at the DODEA-Europe soccer championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany, Thursday, May 19, 2022.

The Naples Wildcats celebrate their Division II title after defeating AOSR 1-0, in the boys Division II final at the DODEA-Europe soccer championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany, Thursday, May 19, 2022. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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