Sigonella girls will get a chance to defend title
Stars and Stripes May 16, 2023
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – Sigonella clinched a spot in the DODEA-Europe Division III girls soccer championships Tuesday with a 3-0 victory over AFNORTH, becoming the first team to clinch a spot in Thursday’s six championship games.
But for most of the second half Tuesday, both coaches agreed the Lions looked like the team that should be playing in the finals.
“They definitely outplayed us for the first 20 minutes (of the second half),” Jaguar coach Andy Reardon said. “We’ll be talking about that tonight.”
Sigonella, the defending champion, led 2-0 after halftime and dominated much of the first 30 minutes, outshooting the Lions 11-3.
But AFNORTH reversed that trend after halftime and had several good chances. Selah Skariah’s shot was stopped by Sigonella goalkeeper Laney Reardon, and Isabella Guest managed to get the ball past Reardon but then missed a shot wide.
Still, the span was encouraging for the Lions, who must defeat Alconbury – a 4-1 winner over Spangdahlem earlier in the day – to reach the finals. The Dragons would advance if they triumph.
“We had a little talk at halftime about the things we can control and the things we can do better,” Lions coach Christy Wise said. “I think we learned from the missed opportunities today and we won’t miss them tomorrow.”
The Jaguars finished the match with a flurry of shots, including one from Ryleigh Denton on an assist from Isabelle Balleza that made the score 3-0.
Leila Denton got Sigonella on the scoreboard in the first half with a remarkable free kick from at least 20 yards out that seemingly touched the clouds before arching down into the goal. The ball entered the net just before her younger sister – trying to help it in – connected with the post, then went into the goal. There was a momentary pause when everyone froze before a goal was signaled.
The Jaguars scored again when Belleza stepped in as Leila Denton’s free kick neared the goal and slipped the ball into the net with her left foot.
Similar to Sigonella, Alconbury dominated the first half of play against Spangdahlem, outshooting the Sentinels 7-2. The first one of Spangdahlem’s shots was for the first score, though, as Lexi Lauer outraced the field, got by the keeper and sent a rocket into an empty net.
After that, Alconbury’s Eleni Politis went on a scoring spree, tying the game shortly after with a left-footed shot close to the goal, then giving the Dragons the lead with a goal even closer to the net after eluding most of the Sentinels’ defense. A corner kick from Sofia Politis bounced off the hands of Spangdahlem goalkeeper Isabel Bodily and right onto Eleni Politis’ foot and it was 3-1.
Unlike the Jaguars, the Dragons continued to control play in the second half and capped the scoring when Mia Valenzuela – who had lost a goal earlier after an offside call – connected.
The Dragons and Lions meet at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, followed by Sigonella and Spangdahlem finishing off round-robin play.