CAMP WALKER, South Korea — Osan American’s bid to make it two straight Far East Boys Class A soccer titles died a wet death in a torrential downpour on Friday at Kelly Field.
Young-ro Yoon’s goal with just under 10 minutes left broke a 1-1 tie and the International Christian-Seoul Guardians held off a few late rushes to capture their first Far East title by edging the Cougars 2-1.
“We lost to a very good ICS-Seoul team,” coach Tony Alvarado said of a Guardians squad that beat the Cougars three of four times during the season, each time by one goal. “It was so close. Awesome match. One that we’ll never forget. I wanted our boys to win but that was a very tough team.”
Osan won its first Class A title last season in double-overtime over two-time defending champion Taejon Christian International. Osan made its repeat bid on a day when water wings might have helped both sides.
After two beautiful days of tournament play, the heavens opened with heavy day-long rainfall. Tournament organizer Tim McDaniel opted to play the championship game before the third-place matchup, to give the title-contending teams a better surface.
“The weather, the field, you didn’t know what the ball was going to do,” Alvarado said of a field pocked with puddles of standing water and mud. “The ball would stop, the ball would skip off a puddle, you just didn’t know. It was kickball. There was very little passing.”
Tournament MVP David Hyun gave the Guardians an early 1-0 edge with a penalty kick goal, through the hands of Osan goalkeeper Joey Dennis. The Cougars rallied to tie it on Carlos Albaladejo’s tally just before the half.
“That gave us a sense of confidence,” Alvarado said. “We got the goal back and we realized that we weren’t done, that we could do this. Then, we had so many opportunities to score in the second half but just didn’t capitalize.”
With eight minutes left, the Guardians sent a through ball into the Osan end, which Dennis raced out to try to clear. But the ball stopped in a water puddle, Dennis was caught out of position and Yoon sent it past him into the net for the title-clinching goal.
“That was tough,” Alvarado said.
It was Osan’s only loss of the tournament, putting the capper on an 8-12-2 season that far exceeded the expectations of a coach and a program that next year will return all but two graduating seniors.
“I was impressed with how much we’ve matured since the start of the season to where we are now,” Alvarado said. “The way they knew their roles and worked toward victory, how well they’ve come together, it just blew me away.”