RAF ALCONBURY, England – Rota’s places in the DODDS-Europe regional soccer standings almost looked like a mistake until Friday.
While other schools in Region I have played at least two regional games, Rota's teams had no wins, losses or ties.
Friday, Rota made up for lost time by playing more than half of its regular season schedule.
Of all Region I schools, Rota may have the toughest path to actually getting on the field. Far removed from other Department of Defense Dependent schools in Spain, travelling to any game can be costly. Worse, tightening federal budgets have not helped the matter.
“The games that we have to find are games against the base soccer team, the guys team and the girls team, and also just the squadron teams that we have, that’s the only games that we can play because money-wise, traveling other places to play, we can’t do that,” said George Gomes, assistant coach for Rota’s girls soccer team.
All of this made Rota’s trip to RAF Alconbury a real bargain. For the price of one trip, the boys and girls teams could play two games on Friday and one Saturday, beginning and ending their season before the tournament.
Sometimes, however, you get what you pay for, and Rota’s inexperience showed. The boys team lost 3-1 against Alconbury and 4-0 against Brussels. The girls team took a bruising in the first game against Alconbury, losing 6-0, and managed to hold their own against Brussels, tying at 0-0.
Manolo Sosa, Rota’s boys soccer coach, said the Admirals lost to Alconbury by making too many mistakes. When tied 1-1, Sosa said they missed two opportunities to score while inside Alconbury’s goal box.
“This year, my team is kind of rebuilding,” Sosa said. “We have a lot of freshman and sophomores.”
Despite the challenges and the losses on Friday, Rota can still show confidence. In 2012, Rota boys and girls did far better at the tournament than in their regional games, giving them something to hope for as this year’s soccer finale approaches.
“I do believe they can win,” said Clarice Brown , the Rota girls head coach. “I think they have the skill down … I think we have the speed.”
Rota plays its last regional game on Saturday against Menwith Hill at Alconbury.