EuropeD-III girls soccer
Sigonella passes way to another championship
Stars and Stripes May 18, 2023
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – The DODEA-Europe soccer season isn’t a long one. But it was long enough for the Sigonella girls to come together as a team.
Displaying a well-oiled passing game, the Jaguars cruised to a 4-2 victory over Alconbury for the Division III championship, retaining the title they won last season.
But there were a lot of differences between the two seasons, according to coach Andy Reardon and senior co-captain Marlee McElree.
“It took us a while to come together and understand our roles on the team,” McElree said.
As a result, the team struggled more against its traditional Division II competition in Italy, Reardon said.
But the Jaguars didn’t struggle to create good opportunities Thursday. Sigonella took a 2-0 lead by halftime by outshooting Alconbury 12-2. Charlize Caro opened the scoring just a few minutes in, outracing the Alconbury defense for a one-on-one chance against Dragons keeper Brooke Barby.
Barby had 10 saves on the day or it could have been more lopsided. She was under fire soon again as Ryleigh Denton made a long run up the right side. Barby stopped the shot, but Isabelle Balleza was there to pounce on the rebound.
After halftime, Ryleigh Denton again set up another goal with an even longer run on goal up the right sideline. This time fellow sophomore Caro was waiting on a rebound and scored her second goal. Senior Leila Denton then set up her younger sister with a pretty give-and-go combination and the Jaguars were up 4-0.
McElree said the precision passing and teamwork on display were a matter of practice and listening to the coaching staff.
“It’s kind of our mantra,” she said. “We don’t spend a lot of time dribbling. Passing the ball well creates opportunities for more goals, so that’s what we all do.”
Alconbury’s sister duo of Eleni and Sofia Politis put the Dragons on the scoreboard late in the contest. Sofia struck first, left footing in the ball from about 10 yards out. Her senior sister then struck from about twice the distance shortly before the time expired.
“They didn’t give up,” Dragons coach Brandon Pfleegor said. “We pulled a few back, but not enough to overcome that lead.”
Pfleegor said the Jaguars deserved the win.
“That’s a very well-coached team,” he said.
Andy Reardon said the Jaguars will have to rebuild again next season as he expects to lose eight of his 14 players. But Caro, Ryleigh Denton and junior goalkeeper Laney Reardon should all be back.
“So that’s a pretty good core to build around,” he said with a smile.