Triumph would cap perfect season for Rota
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The Rota Admirals entered the 2017 DODEA-Europe Soccer Championships without a loss.
Their run in ended in the semifinals with a shootout loss to the Bitburg Barons. Those Barons are technically no more with the opening of Spangdahlem High School.
But the Admirals, unbeaten this year, will get a shot at some revenge in the Division II title game Thursday against the Sentinels thanks to semfinal victories on Wednesday.
Rota 3, AFNORTH 1: Top-seeded Rota made it a perfect 4-0 for the tournament with a scrappy 3-1 win in which all of their goals were either own goals or penalty kicks.
But they constantly peppered AFNORTH with shots and chances from the first minute.
Emma Hook scored two second-half penalty kicks to make the game safe, but it was pressure by striker Kendall Salazar – busy all game – which forced an error and own goal by the Lions early in the second period.
A fantastic free kick by AFNORTH striker Kyla Kolosky, who - like Salazar - was very active in her team’s attack, tied things up shortly after, but Hook’s pair of penalties ensured the Admirals would be into Thursday’s finals.
“I was super nervous at first because I’ve missed some, but I’m happy my coach had confidence in me to make those shots,” Hook said.
Hook was pivotal for Rota in midfield, calm in possession and able to shoot from distance. She praised her team’s ability to move the ball confidently and her defense, particularly freshman keeper Arielle Reese.
“Our passing has been really good, our defense has been really strong and our goalie was solid,” Hook said.
Reese’s opposite number for AFNORTH, Rachel Lee, was kept busy all game, facing 17 shots on target and keeping the vast majority out of the net. Lee said she was proud of her team despite the disappointing result.
“We definitely peaked here as a team, all together,” she said. “We all worked together hard and communicated really well.”
For Thursday’s third-place game, some defensive issues will need addressing.
“We’ll definitely look back on today and see what we need to fix and not let shots come through the middle so often,” Lee said.
Spangdahlem 1, Black Forest Academy 0: Ava Bohn’s second half header off of a free kick from Amanda Zubowicz was the difference in a closely-fought battle between the German foes.
BFA came into the match as the top seed out of its pool, but Spangdahlem did not seem intimidated. The Sentinels’ efforts were rewarded in midway through the second period when Bohn’s header looped over BFA keeper Katie Greathouse.
“It was nerve-wracking, she’s the tallest goalie in the division and I thought there was no way it was going to go over her, but it was an amazing feeling,” Bohn said.
Spangdahlem lost much of its talent from last year’s squad, but has developed chemistry as the season has worn on, Bohn said.
“Last year we were more experienced, and this year we’re more new. We grew as a team all year, we started out as individuals and grew together as a team into a family,” she said.
In addition to Bohn, other standouts for the Sentinels included defender Izzy Smith, whose set pieces and long throws were a constant threat, and striker Emma Passig, who overcame a back injury to play most of the game.
As for BFA, coach Chris Greathouse said he was happy with his team. The Falcons managed to make it out of pool play, unlike last season.
“When we started the season, we felt like we had a long ways to go,” he said. “The girls have never played a harder game than that one. The numbers didn’t quite come out our way, but boy did they fight hard.”