(See team capsules at end of story)

For the past two years, Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Pacific boys small schools soccer teams have found the Far East Class A Tournament a chase to see who finishes behind winner Taejon Christian International School of Korea.

TCIS opened this season by routing Taegu American 10-0, but the Dragons had their comeuppance last weekend, losing 1-0 to Seoul International.

Thus, for DODDS-Pacific teams in the Class A tournament in May at Taegu, the questions are: Can TCIS or Seoul be stopped? If so, how?

“Any team can be stopped,” said coach Mark Lange of Japan’s Matthew C. Perry Samurai, one of five DODDS-Pacific teams vying to knock the Dragons off their pedestal and keep the Tigers from claiming it.

Lange’s statement might seem bold, given that last year TCIS torched foes for 80 goals in 19 matches, a 4.4 goals-per-game average. The Dragons have averaged 5.5 goals in two matches; the Tigers 6.5.

The strategy, Lange said: “You play conservatively, you play solid defense, you match up individually with their (star) players. ... If you try to run and gun with those guys, no way.”

TCIS is expected to try for a Class A three-peat May 18-20 at Taegu and battle a predominantly DODDS-Pacific field with five teams that each finished below .500 a season ago, along with Seoul International.

The Girls Class A tournament, the same dates at Camp Hialeah in Pusan, is a different story. Faith Academy of the Philippines, which won a year ago, cannot return because the tournament coincides with the school’s finals review week. That opens the door for DODDS-Pacific teams seeking a title that’s eluded them for two years.

For players such as seniors Mina Davis and Sharon Kroening of Osan, and Pusan American star senior striker Brieanna Carroll, it’s now or never. “When I was a freshman and those teams beat up on us,” Carroll said, “I just remember telling myself that when I was a senior, I’d be doing the beating. ... It’s my time.”

But Carroll, who’s won individual awards in three sports but never a Far East tournament team title, is putting no added pressure on herself. “Some people are champions. Some people are not,” she said. “Somebody has to lose and if it has to be us, then that’s OK with me. As long as I’m healthy and get to play the sport I love and have waited all year for, I’m good. I’ll have fun.”

Faith’s absence will create a more open tournament and perhaps a rematch of the 2003 final, she said, adding that a deep field of teams is nice “but then it might come down to Osan and us again.”

Osan might not be in the same class as the back-to-back title teams earlier in the decade “but we will be competitive and one of those teams that will be a contender,” coach Sung Plourde said.

While a DODDS-Pacific team might reclaim the Girls Class A crown, overcoming the Dragons or Tigers may be too tall an order, Lange suggested. “We don’t have the advantage of building a program” as does TCIS or teams in the States, he said. “We have what we have. One day, I could show up and 12 goalkeepers might be out there.”

But, Davis said, the two teams “can be beaten if all the other teams work hard at practice, basically believe in themselves. And they can’t be intimidated. That plays a huge factor.”

Class A soccer capsules

(Click here to jump ahead to girls preview)



Osan American Cougars

Osan Air Base, South Korea

2004 record: 7-9, third in Class A tournament.

Coach: Tony Alvarado, first season.

Returning: Van Hauter, Sr., forward (two-time All-Far East, 11 goals, 4 assists); Kevin Carver, Sr., midfield (3 goals, 2 assists); Kevin Finch, Jr., forward (7 goals, 2 assists); Josh Penrod, Jr., midfield; Alex Lane, So., defense (All-Far East); Carlos Albaladejo, So., defense (6 assists).

Newcomers: Colton Swogger, Fr., goalkeeper; Roberto Kelly, Fr., forward.

Status: Rebuilding-reloading. Carver, Finch and Hauter bring leadership to a squad showing great promise, with the youthful presence of Albaladejo, Swogger and Kelly.

Taegu American Warriors

Camp George, South Korea

2004 record: 5-12-2

Coach: Ian Eddington, first season.

Returning: Aaron Dick, Sr., team captain; Brad Roh, So.; Hyun Min Kim, So. (3 goals, 3 assists).

Newcomer: Justin Hendrix, Jr., goalkeeper.

Status: Rebuilding, particularly after losing the team’s key strikers Henry John and Kevin Done, who each had nine goals and two assists last season.

Pusan American Panthers

Camp Hialeah, South Korea

2004 record: 5-10-1.

Coach: Angela Griego, second season.

Returning: Moses Joh, junior, center-forward (All-Far East, 9 goals); Synge O'Leary, Sr., center-mid (5 goals); David Ludwig, Sr., left halfback; Robert Smith, Sr., midfield-defense; Kenneth Lee, Fr., forward (4 goals).

Newcomers: Kuba Niemaszek, Jr., defense-midfield; Steven Barrett, Sr., defense-midfield; Chris Moye, Jr., midfield; Bradley Cheeseman, Sr., midfield-fullback.

Status: Contending, but perhaps not strong enough for the likes of Osan or Matthew C. Perry of Japan.


Matthew C. Perry Samurai

Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, Japan

2004 record: 2-11.

Coach: Mark Lange, second season.

Returning: Adam Krievs, Sr., midfield (All-Far East, 6 assists); Chris Allison, Sr., midfield (All-Far East); Richard Naseer, So., forward (4 goals); Tim Dosh, So., defense; Justin Biskup, Sr., midfield; Ronnie Solomon, Sr., defense.

Newcomers: Andre Fung, Jr., forward; Jason Stroup, Fr., forward; Alex Cabral, Sr., midfield.

Status: Contending. Leaders Allison and Krievs surrounded by good supporting cast, promising newcomers on strongest team the Samurai have had in three seasons, could challenge for Class A Final Four berth.

E.J. King Cobras

Sasebo Naval Base, Japan

2004 record: 2-8.

Coach: Henry Barr, second season.

Returning: Brandon Gilbert, Sr., forward; Matthew Baker, Jr., goalkeeper (All-Far East); Matt Heitstuman, Jr., forward; Jhan Ongoco, Jr., defense; David Years, Sr., goalkeeper-defense; Justin Stepura, Sr., midfield; Damien Seelbach, Sr., forward; Leif Bogen, So., midfield; Daniel Goddard, Jr., midfield; Ralph Roe III, Sr., defense; Emily Bogen, Sr., midfield.

Newcomers: David Heitstuman, Fr., defense-midfield; Jon Yu, So., defense; John Reilly, Jr., sweeper; Evan Freeman, Jr., defense.

Status: Hopeful contender. One year older, one year wiser, the Cobras will take their lumps along with Perry in the Japan Soccer League, which should toughen them for Class A competition.



Pusan American Panthers

Camp Hialeah, South Korea

2004 record: 16-3, second in Class A tournament.

Coach: Gary Canner, fourth season.

Returning: Brieanna Carroll, Sr., forward (All-Far East, 27 goals, 11 assists); Cassie Carroll, Fr., forward (All-Far East, 12 goals, 3 assists); Angela Vandersys, Fr., defense (7 goals); Mycal Horton, Sr., midfield; Meghan Sprague, Sr., midfield; Kristine Meany, Fr., midfield; Shabraya Hays, Fr., midfield.

Newcomers: Kay Husler, Nina Aaltonen, Andrea Lee.

Status: Contending. Panthers have not lost a Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Division II match in two seasons. Though the Panthers lost goalkeeper Jennifer Oh, they're stacked with veterans from top to bottom, all over the field.

Osan American Cougars

Osan Air Base, South Korea

2004 record: 11-5-3, third in Class A tournament.

Coach: Sung Plourde, sixth season.

Returning: Sharon Kroening, Sr., midfield-forward (8 goals, 1 assist); Suzi Devin, Sr., midfield; Chelsea Wood, Sr., midfield; Elizabeth Juergens, Jr., midfield-forward.

Newcomers: Christina Connolly, Fr., forward; Daniella Gray, So., midfield-defense.

Status: Contending. It’s now or never for the Cougars, who lost goalkeeper Margaret Nurse to Seoul American and will be cleaned out of all veterans next spring.

Taegu American Warriors

Camp George, South Korea

2004 record: 3-13-1.

Coach: Samuel Alsup, second season.

Returning: Crystal Anguay, Jr.; Melodie Thompson, Jr.; Sun-hyung Yeo, So.; Jennifer Proctor, Fr.; Katrina Alsup, 8th grade, goalkeeper (2004 Class A Outstanding Goalkeeper).

Newcomers: Kinsey Dean, Jr., sweeper (transfer from Clarksville, Tenn.); Joanne Youngblood, Jr., striker (transfer from Heidelberg American, Germany).

Status: Continued rebuilding. Plenty of youth, with Katrina Alsup as the backbone of a team that could contend in the next couple of years, if all the components stay put.


Matthew C. Perry Samurai

Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, Japan

2004 record: 0-10.

Coach: Christopher Anderson, first season.

Returning: Heather Nuse, Sr., forward; Rei Enriquez, So., forward; Sarah Mayer, So., stopper; Dayna Garland, So., sweeper; Christel Paradowski, Sr., goalkeeper (All-Far East); Miyu Koestonly, So., right back; Erica Snyder, So., midfield.

Newcomers: Sam Keating, Fr., all-purpose; Ruth Coleman, Sr., back; Gabby Pacheco, Sr., center-midfield; Lelanie Arita, Sr., back; Sabrina Leckemby, Fr., midfield; Kristina Moore, Fr., back; Lindsey Hickok, Fr., back; Elizabeth Perry, Fr., back; Tiffany Paradowski, Fr., back; Joanne Enriquez, Jr., goalkeeper-midfield.

Status: Rebuilding. The Samurai's only goal scorer last season, Serena Seitz, is gone, and another new coach faces the task of retooling a youthful squad.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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