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Call May 20, 2005, a date that will live in infamy, at least in the memories of Kadena boys soccer players.

That was the day Okinawa schools’ domination of Pacific high school soccer ended, thanks to a 2-1 double-overtime victory by Christian Academy In Japan in the Class AA championship.

Ted Awana remembers. In the 10th minute of the first of two overtime periods, the goalkeeper came out to contest a possession by Knights midfielder David Kijima — who lofted a touch shot that sailed over Awana’s head into the goal.

“Losing in the final is something that since our freshman year, our team had never experienced,” Awana said of a Kadena team that entered the 2005 Class AA tournament as two-time defending champions. “It leaves a bitter taste.”

Until CAJ claimed that title banner, Class AA championships had been an all-Okinawa show. Kadena won in 1999, 2003 and 2004, Kubasaki in 2001 and 2002.

“We just have to bring it back to Kadena,” Awana said, adding that he and the Panthers’ 11 other returning players from 2005 have talked about that match — and their goals for this season — almost every day since school opened in September.

Given the talent of the Panthers’ boys squad, plus as loaded and deep a girls squad as Kadena ever has had, a Class AA sweep in the May tournaments — boys at Yokota, girls at Kubasaki — is a real possibility.

The boys have the motivation: Kadena hadn’t lost a match since Awana’s freshman season and thought it was primed for a three-peat — until it met up with senior-laden CAJ.

Now, the Panthers are top-heavy with upperclassmen — nine, including five starters who combined for 33 goals. Former Class AA MVP Nathan LaGrave controls the middle; two-time All-Far East striker Aaron Zendejas leads the charge up front.

But stoking the fire in the Panthers’ bellies the most is that loss to CAJ — and if such heat could be gauged, Kadena’s would make the Towering Inferno resemble a Cub Scout campfire.

“It’s something we’ve not been fond of,” Awana said, exhibiting a firm grasp of the fine art of understatement. “Now … we can use that bitter taste in our mouths to get that winning mentality back.”

CAJ, which lost 14 players to graduation, certainly wouldn’t seem a threat. But Kadena likely will face a parade of contenders for the Class AA throne.

Perhaps the strongest competition will come from Kubasaki, itself chock full of experience, with All-Far East senior midfield Chris Monroy, striker James Reyes and midfielder Eric Isley back in the fold.

With All-Far East junior Stefan Welch in the middle and striker Bronson Bailey on the attack, Class AA host Yokota can’t be ignored. Nile C. Kinnick, with All-Far East striker Jonathon Evans, also could challenge. And Seoul American boasts two-time All-Far East striker Allen Chin.

“We have to play every game like it’s our last,” Awana said.

Coach Hoa Nguyen and the Kadena girls share a similar sense of urgency because on paper they look as strong as any Panthers team the school has fielded. Pacific single-season scoring record-holding senior Dianne Abel (66 goals, 27 assists) and her sister Jen (29 goals, 25 assists) return, along with a strong mix of seniors and underclassmen.

“We’re going in with an even bigger target on our backs,” Nguyen said of the bull’s-eye Kadena will tote to Far East. “We can’t take anything for granted. It’s who wants it the most, not who has the most returnees or who’s the defending champion.”

Still, he appears confident his blend of battle-tested veterans and youngsters will be able to continue the winning tradition: two Class AA titles and counting.

Especially gratifying, he said, is having the Abel sisters all four of their respective high school years.

“That kind of power is unbelievable, incredible,” he said. “But we have a good mixture of students. We don’t want this to be a ‘win-or-else’ year and rebuild next year. We want consistency. I think we have that.”

Class AA previewsBoys

Okinawa

Kadena Panthers,Kadena Air Base, Okinawa

2005 record-15-0-2, second in Far East Class AA tournament.

Coach-Michael Callahan, fourth season; Johnny Reay, second season.

Returnees-Aaron Zendejas, Sr., midfield-forward (three-time All-Far East, 12 goals, 6 assists); Anthony Soroka, Sr., midfield (8 goals, 1 assist); Nathan LaGrave, Sr., center-midfield (two-time All-Far East, 13 goals, 1 assist); Ted Awana, Sr., goalkeeper; Kingsley McLeod, So., midfield (5 goals, 4 assists); Alex Mierzejewski, Jr., stopper-sweeper; Ben Zendejas, So., midfield (5 goals, 1 assist).

Projected status-Contending. Losing the Far East championship match to Christian Academy In Japan in double-overtime last May 20 at Yokota Air Base, Japan, has lit a roaring fire in the bellies of this lot. A fourth Class AA title, third in four seasons, is a strong probability.

Kubasaki Dragons,Camp Foster, Okinawa

2005 record-7-11-1.

Coach-Chris Kelly, first season.

Returnees-Chris Monroy, Sr., midfield (All-Far East, 9 goals, 2 assists); James Reyes, Sr., forward (8 goals, 2 assists); Eric Isley, Sr., midfield (5 goals, 5 assists); Alex Berardo, Sr., forward (4 goals); Derek Bailey, Sr., defense (3 goals); Chris Bailey, So., defense (2 goals); Michael Derr, Jr., midfield; David Motu, Jr., defense-goalkeeper; Justin Martinez, Jr., goalkeeper.

Newcomer-Lee Roberson, Sr.

Projected status-Contending. As strong and experienced a group as the Dragons have had since their 2001 championship team. Could reach their second Class AA final in three seasons.

Korea

Seoul American Falcons,Yongsan Garrison, South Korea

2005 record-9-10-2, sixth in Far East Class AA tournament.

Coach-Steve Boyd, fifth season.

Returnees-Allen Chin, Sr., midfield-forward (two-time All-Far East, 13 goals); Dae-han Martin, Sr., midfield; Daniel Kim, Sr., midfield; Daniel Burns, So., midfield (3 goals); David Crothers, Jr., midfield (2 goals); Chris Churchwell, So., midfield-forward (6 goals); Eric Chin, So., midfield.

Newcomer-Jonathan Kim, So., goalkeeper.

Projected status-Reloading. Plenty of experience, with 12 players back from last season. May be a Class AA Final Four threat. Jonathan Kim’s development as a goalkeeper will be key.

Japan

Yokota Panthers,Yokota Air Base, Japan

2005 record-11-8-0.

Coach-Timothy Pujol, fifth season.

Returnees-Stefan Welch, Jr., center-midfield (All-Far East, 22 goals, 13 assists); Bronson Bailey, Sr., midfield (17 goals, 5 assists); Andreas Cabral, Sr., midfield (6 goals, 3 assists); Scott Monahan, Sr., forward; Tom Gass, Jr., midfield (5 goals, 3 assists); Riki Byrnes, So., defense (3 goals, 3 assists); Jimmy Vosti, So., defense (4 assists).

Newcomers-Jim Scott, Sr., goalkeeper; Andrew Jenness, Jr., goalkeeper; Jason Stroup, So., forward; Jaybie Kurishima, So., midfield.

Projected status-Reloading/contending. With Welch, born to play the game, as the centerpiece player and Bailey the primary finisher, Panthers hoping for a return to Japan Soccer League champion status, which they held four straight years before a down campaign last season.

Nile C. Kinnick Red Devils,Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan

2005 record-16-3-0, Japan Soccer League champion.

Coach-Bill Schofield, fifth season.

Returnees-Jonathon Evans, Sr., midfield-forward (All-Far East, 15 goals, 8 assists); Yamato Cibulka, Sr., midfield-defense; Michael Frantz, Sr., midfield (5 goals); Kenji Doughty, Sr., midfield.

Projected status-Rebuilding/reloading. Small core of veterans with experience but losing the combined scoring of Koji Silk, Andy Brown, Trey Davis and Jack Harms (49 goals) may be too much to overcome.

Zama American Trojans,Camp Zama, Japan

2005 record-7-14-0.

Coach-Ronald Geist, second season.

Returnees-Thomas Chung, Sr., midfield-forward (7 goals); Daniel Roper, Jr., midfield (4 goals); Aaron Vest, Jr., midfield; Thomas McGinn, Sr., midfield; Blake Ohkawa Sr.

Projected status-Rebuilding. Small core of veterans, hoping to help develop large cadre of youngsters into a contender for the future. Plenty of potential.

Girls

Okinawa

Kadena Panthers,Kadena Air Base, Okinawa

2005 record-18-1-1, two-time defending Far East Class AA tournament champions.

Coach-Hoa Nguyen, eighth season.

Returnees-Dianne Abel, Sr., midfield (two-time reigning Class AA MVP, Pacific-record 66 goals, 27 assists); Jennifer Abel, Jr., midfield-stopper-sweeper (All-Far East, 29 goals, 25 assists); Alicia Larson, Sr., forward (12 goals, 5 assists); Pattie Adkins, Sr., forward (10 goals); Niki Kauzlarich, Sr., midfield-forward (6 goals); Sara Ragland, Sr., midfield (All-Far East, 7 goals); Kelsey Decker, So., midfield (7 goals, 7 assists); Victoria Lyle, So., midfield-defense (7 goals, 4 assists); Helen Schrock, So., goalkeeper.

Newcomers-Laura Kivi, Fr.; Stephanie Workman, Fr.; Erica Tosh, Fr.

Projected status-Contending. Maybe the best team Nguyen has ever fielded in his long tenure as Panthers coach, with plenty of battle-tested veterans and potential-filled youngsters to follow them.

Kubasaki Dragons,Camp Foster, Okinawa

2005 record-18-2-1, two-time Far East Class AA tournament runner-up.

Coach-Terry Chumley, fifth season.

Returnees-Kristi McNair, Sr., midfield-defense (All-Far East, 7 goals); Sarah Rhodes, Jr., midfield-defense; Melissa Ramos, Sr., midfield-defense.

Newcomers-Mina Ihu, Fr.; Sarah Harter, Fr.; Kara Koeneke, Fr.; Natalie Monti, Fr.

Projected status-Rebuilding. No problems on defense, but that’s Chumley’s most experienced area, though she says she’s “high” on her four new freshmen, boding well for the future. But replacing combined 117 goals and 36 assists from departed Erin Foote, Alana Banks, Levinia Tyrrell, Emily Short and Kimi Cece may be too much to ask this season.

Korea

Seoul American Falcons,Yongsan Garrison, South Korea

2005 record-15-5-1.

Coach-Lori Cannon, sixth season.

Returnees-Margaret Nurse, Sr., midfield (9 goals, 4 assists); Angye Law, So., forward (8 goals); Jenna Donahue, Sr., midfield (4 goals); Nykol Cabrera, Sr., defense; Cathryn Furner, Jr., midfield; Ashley Feil, Sr., midfield; Whitney Grandy, Sr., midfield (returns after spending last year in Idaho).

Projected status-Reloading/contending. Still a force to reckon with in the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference, and hoping to make Class AA Final Four noise. Graduated two-time All-Far East striker Amy Bakameyer (22 goals) leaves a void that Cannon feels Grandy can ably fill.

Japan

Yokota Panthers,Yokota Air Base, Japan

2005 record-7-6-3.

Coach-Matt Whipple, second season.

Returnees-Daniya Nixon, Sr., striker (4 goals); Danielle Neal, Sr., striker; Alisha Egri, Jr., midfield; Kristle Protacio, So., striker; Sarah Vosti, Sr., midfield; Steffany Furst, So., defense.

Newcomers-Stephanie Dolby, So., midfield (transfer from Zama American); Breyana Anderson, Jr., striker; Abbi Dacosta, Fr., goalkeeper.

Projected status-Rebuilding. Mostly freshmen and sophomores, and Whipple must replace the scoring of departed Bridgette Dean (9 goals, transferred), Jonica Childress (6 goals, graduated) and two-time All-Far East striker Brett Wagner (9 goals, graduated).

Nile C. Kinnick Red Devils,Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan

2005 record-8-7-4.

Coach-Nicolas Hindie, fourth season.

Returnees-Lisa Murray, Sr., midfield-forward (10 goals, 4 assists); Mariko Wood, Jr., midfield (7 goals, 4 assists); Frances Zukowski, Jr., midfield (All-Far East, 4 goals, 3 assists); Sarah Greenert, Sr., midfield; Lualhati Johnson, Sr., midfield; Ashley Melin, Sr., midfield; Erica Niemeyer, Sr., goalkeeper.

Newcomers-Charlemagne Cameron, Jr., goalkeeper; Chelsea Keolanui, Fr., midfield; Nadine Mulvany, Fr., midfield.

Projected status-Contending. Very experienced group with enough youth to carry the torch in the future, will make strong bid for Class AA Final Four status.

Zama American Trojans,Camp Zama, Japan

2005 record-10-8-1.

Coach-Victor Rivera, second season.

Returnees-Tiffany Harris, Sr., defense; Alexis Panaligan, Sr., midfield-defense; Amanda Rakes, Sr., defense; Kate Shicks, Sr., midfield-forward (4 goals, 4 assists); Ashley Smith, Sr., midfield-defense; Amber Wilder, Sr., midfield; Makita Arnold, Jr., goalkeeper-defense; Corinne Labial, So., midfield.

Newcomers-Emma Barrett, Sr., midfield-defense; Sarah Ashby, Sr., midfield; Sakisha Johnson, Fr., forward-midfield; Rachel Ravelo, Fr., forward.

Projected status-Reloading. Must replace the scoring of Elli Legaspi (16 goals) and All-Far East striker JaQuita Doakes (13 goals), but plenty of returning experience coupled with solid newcomers could make Trojans a contender by season's end.

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