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Let’s try this again.

DODDS-Europe has grown more ambitious in its divisional schedule this spring, an effect of the 2014 realignment that promoted Italian teams Naples and Vicenza to Division I. Ever since, the organization has made an to book regular-season meetings between divisional rivals situated on opposite sides of the Alps.

This spring, however, those efforts have been largely sabotaged by weather. Highly anticipated baseball and softball mashups featuring Patch and Vilseck at Vicenza and Hohenfels and Ansbach at Aviano were curtailed or cancelled entirely in March due to persistent Italian rain.

That won’t prevent many of those same schools from trying it again this weekend, this time on the firmer terrain of a soccer pitch rather than the diamond’s delicate dirt.

Hohenfels and Ansbach are set to navigate the mountain passes to Aviano, where they’ll collide with the host Saints and American Overseas School of Rome.

Two of those four programs have the early look of legitimate contenders to make a run through the streamlined Division II bracket. While Ansbach and Aviano have largely struggled, AOSR and Hohenfels have shined.

The AOSR boys have wins over Sigonella and solid ties with Division I Naples and Vicenza on their ledger.

The Falcons girls have gone 3-1 in those same games, including an impressive 2-0 defeat of Vicenza last weekend.

Hohenfels has been on a tear over the last month. Both the Tiger boys and girls will look to extend three-game winning streaks this weekend, runs that include a sweep of Division I Vilseck before spring break and matching routs of Baumholder and Bitburg last weekend.

Naples and Vicenza, meanwhile, get their first taste of regular-season Division I soccer this weekend against Patch.

While Vicenza is hoping to recover from that winless weekend versus AOSR, Naples is coming off a tidy sweep of Aviano earned by a combined 10-1 score. Patch will be a worthy test of Naples and Vicenza’s viability as a Division I contender.

The Panther girls are unbeaten and eying a return to the European title game, which they lost last season after winning it all in 2013. The Panther boys are 3-0, including two shutout victories, and would love to get a running start heading into a May 2 date with defending Division I champion Ramstein.

Twitter: @broomestripes


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