Bitburg pulls off surprises on Day 1
May 20, 2013
WALDMOHR, Germany — With just one win in the regular season against six losses, Bitburg’s girls certainly appeared to have earned their seed in the DODDS-Europe soccer championships: 10th out of 12 teams in Division II.
Then they steam rolled the fourth-seeded American Overseas School of Rome 3-0 in their first championship matchup. A couple hours later, they drew 1-1 against top-seed SHAPE.
“That’s the tournament,” SHAPE coach Shawn Whitehurst said. “Anything can happen.”
For the most part, though, just about everything else fell according to seed on Day 1 of pool play.
Naples, the tournament’s two-seed, blanked both ninth seed AFNORTH and 11th seed Marymount. AOSR did the same to Hohenfels. Hohenfels shut out Aviano.
Outside of Bitburg, the only unexpected outcomes came from Marymount, which topped seventh-seed Ansbach 2-1, and Vicenza, which dropped sixth-seeded Black Forest Academy.
But most surprised of all, it seemed, were Bitburg’s girls.
“I didn’t think we were going to do that well,” senior Lydia Horn said after her team’s domination of AOSR. “But we came out and we won.”
For its part, AOSR appeared to be struggling with its defense. Bitburg attackers twice blasted past AOSR’s defenders, forcing keeper Alison Cook to make solo plays for the ball. In one instance, she sprinted to the front of the box only to watch a soft lob from Samantha Nop soar over her head and out of reach.
“I saw her come so far up, and I was like, ‘Well, let me try this,’” Nop, a freshman, said. “So I kind of just tapped it up and it went in.”
Bitburg freshman Sabrina Matos looped another just out of Cook’s reach, surprising both of them.
“I didn’t expect to make it,” Matos said. “It was just like, right over the hands.”
But the cracks in AOSR’s defense appeared patched by the time they took the field against Hohenfels, which is seeded just behind them in the fifth spot.
After a scoreless first half and a second half that appeared to be going nowhere as both defenses held, Hohenfels made a series of organized rushes at Cook, getting off three solid shots on goal.
Cook snagged the last shot out of the air and booted it to midfield. A few seconds later, AOSR’s Alessia Giombini was celebrating her first goal of the tournament.
The team wasn’t united in the first game, “but we definitely came together here,” AOSR defender Ceara Lafferty said. “Our defense got all of our marks organized. We definitely played a lot better than before.”
“They’re a skilled team,” Hohenfels’ Dollie Harrison, who scored a late, game-winning goal in her team’s earlier matchup against Aviano, said. “We thought we had it.”
“There’s always tomorrow.”