Alconbury out-kicks Brussels to make it a sweep
May 21, 2016
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – The Alconbury Dragons completed a Division III championship soccer sweep Saturday as the school’s boys team won a penalty kick shootout over the Brussels Brigands in the 2016 European title game.
Alconbury knocked in five kicks to Brussels’ four in the shootout, which followed a 1-1 regulation tie.
“I’m going to cry. I’m so excited,” Dragons coach Kathryn Morgart said as her squad rushed to celebrate with the Alconbury girls, who beat Sigonella 1-0 in the Division III girls title game that immediately preceded the boys' win. “I’m so proud of these guys.”
Senior Fritz Sherenco, a four-year varsity starter, deposited the clinching penalty kick for the Dragons, capping a prolific prep career with the Dragons.
While he ultimately rose to the occasion, Sherenco didn’t deny that he was affected by the magnitude of the moment.
“For it to come down to me, it was remarkable,” Sherenco said. “At the same time, I felt like I was going to die.”
The Dragons almost spared Sherenco the emotional turmoil. They dominated the ball early, parking possession on their offensive half of the pitch and launching repeated attacks against Brussels’ shaky defensive backfield. But sturdy Brigands keeper Dominick DeFazio minimized the damage with strong work in goal, and Alconbury managed only a breakaway score by Alconbury sophomore Jose Cordero in the first half.
Cordero seized on a ball that trickled past a pack of players and got to it ahead of an advancing DeFazio, who Cordero called an “amazing” goalkeeper.
“This is my ball,” Cordero recalled thinking as the opportunity presented itself. “I’m going to score for my team here.”
Brussels tightened up defensively and ramped up its offensive efforts after halftime, and soon pulled even on a strike by Tim Wilkinson.
Alconbury, meanwhile, began to battle frustration as it continued to come away empty.
“We have good people, we had a lot of great chances,” Cordero said. “We just couldn’t find the back of the net.”
That held true for both teams until the shootout, where DeFazio and Alconbury counterpart Robert Diamond extended the game with key stops before Sherenco’s well-struck winner.
The outcome was nearly an exact replica of the teams’ Wednesday meeting in round-robin play. Alconbury won that game too, outscoring the Brigands 7-6 in a shootout to settle a 3-3 regulation tie. Brussels edged the Dragons 2-1 when the teams met in March to open the regular season.
The urgency was heightened by the game’s unusual format. The boys and girls Division III title games were played with 30-minute halves, 10 minutes shorter than those of the other two divisions, and proceeded directly to penalty kicks rather than the conventional approach of two 10-minute silver-goal overtime periods.
DODEA-Europe athletic director Karen Seadore said those changes were ratified by the Division III athletic directors, citing concerns about the small schools’ limited benches and the rigors of the tournament's three-day, five-game preliminary schedule.