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Florence keeper Ludovico Iannizzotto pulls in the ball in front of Sigonella's Thomas Wray in the boys Division III final at the DODDS-Europe soccer championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Florence took the title with a 4-0 win.

Florence keeper Ludovico Iannizzotto pulls in the ball in front of Sigonella's Thomas Wray in the boys Division III final at the DODDS-Europe soccer championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Florence took the title with a 4-0 win. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Florence keeper Ludovico Iannizzotto pulls in the ball in front of Sigonella's Thomas Wray in the boys Division III final at the DODDS-Europe soccer championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Florence took the title with a 4-0 win.

Florence keeper Ludovico Iannizzotto pulls in the ball in front of Sigonella's Thomas Wray in the boys Division III final at the DODDS-Europe soccer championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Florence took the title with a 4-0 win. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Sigonella's Nathan Jones heads the ball away from Florence's Brighton Steinberg in the boys Division III final at the DODDS-Europe soccer championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Florence won 4-0.

Sigonella's Nathan Jones heads the ball away from Florence's Brighton Steinberg in the boys Division III final at the DODDS-Europe soccer championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Florence won 4-0. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

International School of Florence players celebrate their 4-0 win over Sigonella in the boys Division III final at the DODDS-Europe soccer championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

International School of Florence players celebrate their 4-0 win over Sigonella in the boys Division III final at the DODDS-Europe soccer championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Florence's Filippo Tortilla, right, clears the ball against Sigonella's Dylan Van Wynsberghe in the boys Division III final at the DODDS-Europe soccer championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Florence won 4-0.

Florence's Filippo Tortilla, right, clears the ball against Sigonella's Dylan Van Wynsberghe in the boys Division III final at the DODDS-Europe soccer championships in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Florence won 4-0. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – Florence used superior ball-handling and an aggressive style of play to shut out Sigonella, 4-0, in the Division III boys’ soccer championship game Thursday.

The 2013 champion Wild Boars wasted little time taking control, putting the defending champions in chase mode from the get-go, a tactic that eventually wore the Jaguars down.

A near-empty bench required just about every player to be on the field for the full 80 minutes.

Sigonella sophomore midfielder Bailey Jones said a week’s worth of games took its toll on the team’s thin roster. “The first 15 minutes we were just a bit tired from all the other games,” he said. “And then we picked ourselves up, trying to match them physically. I guess that just wasn’t good enough.”

And a short season didn’t help either.

“We’ve only been playing together for seven or eight weeks,” Coach Brian Jones said. “We came up against a team from Florence that plays together all year round, and that showed in the final. My kids gave everything.”

Sigonella freshman goalkeeper Winston Sappenfield kept the ball out of the cage with a number of saves early on, but Florence finally prevailed when sophomore scoring machine Paul Jobard hit the net on a free kick from the right side about 20 minutes into the first half.

Jobard, the Division III tournament’s most valuable player, followed up with another quick score from the far left side, sending a cross that ricocheted off the bar into the net. The score put Florence up 2-0 at halftime.

Sappenfield found himself at the center of action again in the second half, with the Wild Boars threatening several times to widen their advantage.

That action came to a head when Florence junior Antonio Luca earned a penalty kick.

But Sappenfield denied Luca, diving right to block Luca’s hard shot toward the left corner.

Sappenfield, however, had not seen the last of Luca. Sigonella defenders later blocked another shot by Luca, who then found sophomore Cristoforo Burgisser open. Burgisser punched the ball in for Florence’s third goal.

About a minute later, Luca was back, breaking away from Sigonella defenders near the cage to roll the ball into the corner of the net with about 22 minutes left to play.

Luca said after the game that his blocked penalty kick motivated him.

“Yeah, yeah,” he said, “because I usually don’t fail the penalty kick. So after the penalty kick, (I thought) I really need to score now.”

Sigonella had a couple chances to avoid a shutout.

A header by Bailey Jones, on an arcing cross from senior Thomas Wray, found the net late into the second half. But the goal was nullified when the referees called off sides on Sigonella.

Coach Jones didn’t agree with the call. “I don’t see how it was off sides,” he said. “But again, one goal wouldn’t have made a difference.”

Florence coach Roberto Clausi said his players’ adept ball skills made the difference in the game.

“A lot of kids really know how to play,” he said. “It is easy to handle a group that is skillful.”

svan.jennifer@stripes.com

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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