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MANNHEIM, Germany – Home couldn’t have been sweeter Monday as the Mannheim Bison and Lady Bison posted twin shutouts over their counterparts from Baumholder in the final soccer games ever to be hosted by Mannheim American High School.

Mannheim’s girls blanked the Lady Bucs 2-0, then turned things over to the speedy Bison boys. They made it look easy, handing Baumholder, second to Ramstein in the Region II standings going into the game, a 4-0 defeat.

Mannheim is scheduled to close forever in June, ending a 55-year run.

Mannheim girls 2, Baumholder 0Jolian Gibbons lofted a high shot from just outside the penalty box that bounced over the head of Baumholder’s backup goalkeeper to break the scoreless tie that occupied the first 50 minutes of the game.

Not that Gibbons, a senior, noticed.

“To tell the truth, I didn’t know it went in,” she said after the game. “I wasn’t wearing my glasses.”She was, however, wearing her scoring shoes, working her way open time after time for scoring chances.

“This is her first year out,” Mannheim co-coach John Crockett said. “I saw her in a powder-puff football game during a school activity day. Not only was she running past people, but whenever she got hit, she bounced right back up and got going again.”

Unluckily, one of Gibbon’s chances on Monday resulted in an injury to Baumholder keeper Rachel Krahn, who skillfully shut out the Lady Bison for 45 minutes. As Gibbons bore in toward the goal from the left side of the penalty box, Krahn came out to challenge and dived face first as Gibbons made her shot. The ball bounded into Krahn’s face, forcing her head backwards.

Even so, Krahn scrambled after the rebound, made a second save, scooped up the ball and cleared it before she collapsed at the top of the box.

There she lay for some 30 minutes before an ambulance equipped to handle possible spinal injuries finally arrived.

Baumholder coach Carter Hollenbeck, who was at Krahn’s side the entire time, said he believes her injury is similar to whiplash.

“I kept asking her five questions over and over,” Hollenbeck said, “and she answered four of them correctly every time. Eighty percent means there’s a good chance that there was no concussion.”

Both teams endured the injury timeout nervously, according to Gibbons.

“The long break didn’t bother us,” she said, “except that we were all really worried about whether she was OK.”

Mannheim made it 2-0 18 minutes after play resumed, when Bella Amos ran onto a ball rolling across the top of the box and hammered it just inside the right post.

Monday’s game originally was scheduled for this Saturday, but the game was moved at Baumholder’s request so that some of their players could participate in a trip to Berlin this weekend. As a results, Mannheim (2-4-1 overall and 1-3-1 in Region II) and Baumholder (0-7, 0-5) are idle until they open their European Division II tournament runs at Ramstein-Kaiserslautern on May 18.

”I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing,” Crockett said about the long pause. “We’ve never done that before.”

Mannheim boys 4, Baumholder 0A little over 48 hours after being shut out 1-0 last Saturday at Bitburg to fall to 0-4 in Region II, Mannheim on Monday resembled nothing so much as one of the best teams in Europe.

Four-year starter Karsten Klink got the scoring started in the 30th minute, running point-blank onto a muffed save attempt by Baumholder keeper Noel Bingham, who minutes earlier had robbed the Bison with a diving save to his left.

Mannheim then broke the game open in the second half, with Brandon Wiley, Klink and Ajay Limin finishing three of the frequent scoring opportunities created by the bear-down Bison.

“This is the best we’ve played all year,” keeper Sam Nevinger said during the second half as this team raced downfield in transition after blunting yet another Baumholder attack.

Mannheim coach Enrique John, however, disagreed.

“This was the most consequent game we‘ve played,” John smiled afterward about the best possible springboard his team could wish for going into next week’s Europeans. “The best game we played was the first one, when we lost 3-2 at Black Forest Academy.”

Mannheim completed its final regular season 2-5 overall and 1-4 in Region II. Baumholder is 4-2-1 overall and 3-2 in the region.

“Mannheim worked very hard today,” Baumholder coach Jeff O’Neil said. “They deserved this victory.”

bryanr@estripes.osd.mil

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