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Tony Alvarado and his Osan American boys soccer team have a pretty fair idea of where they’ll be at 8:40 a.m. Wednesday.

The coach of the defending Far East Class A champions says he and his players plan to be more than mere spectators at the round-robin match between Robert D. Edgren of Japan and Pusan American at Camp Walker’s Kelly Field in Daegu, South Korea.

“We know our full competition is Edgren,” Alvarado said of an Eagles team enjoying the finest season in school history (10-2-3) — just as an enrollment drop pushed Edgren from Class AA to Class A this season. “I know they’re good. The whole team is planning to watch their first match.”

What the Cougars will see is a squad with good scoring balance (five players with eight goals or more) plus the fierce defensive play of sweeper Chris Tobiere, an All-Far East player in Class AA last year.

Likewise, the defending Far East champion Osan girls team plans a sharp lookout whenever the Eagles girls hit the pitch at Penny Lake Field, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan.

With the exception of three blowout losses to JSL champion Nile C. Kinnick, the defense-minded Edgren girls surrendered just six goals in their other 10 matches, three of them ties, en route to a 5-5-3 record — also the best in school history.

“The big thing we’ve been hearing is Edgren is the team to beat,” Osan coach Sung Plourde said, adding that the Eagles gain a huge edge in playing against Kinnick, Yokota and the JSL’s other Class AA team, Zama American. “Playing them, that will benefit them. They’ll be better prepared. Here, they’ll be facing teams that are less competitive than they have faced” during the season.

While Edgren’s boys have soared on the scoring of Patrick Pezoulas (19 goals) Brandon Green (12), Alan Jones and Nathan Fine (9 each) and Doug Nicholson (8), the Eagles’ girls have done well thanks to the play of underclass defensemen Brandi Pendleton, Amy Heimer, Loren Doerr and Jennifer Stryd and keeper Lissi Johnson.

“We have a really strong defensive four in front of the keeper. They are doing a fantastic job,” coach Larry Allen said. “And we’re young. We only have one senior [Johanna Six]. We just need to ramp up our firepower. Keeping games low-scoring, that’s been our strength.”

So how can Osan’s teams, which suffered something of a dropoff with veterans Sharon Kroening and Van Hauter having graduated, compete with that?

“I don’t think we’re as strong as last year. Nobody has stepped up to fill Sharon’s shoes,” said Plourde, whose scoring has come from Sasha Gluzinski (12 goals) and Gina Bosworth (7). “But I think we’ll give them good competition. We won’t roll over and just give them the title. We’ll take it one match at a time.”

For his part, Alvarado says he has more than just defending a championship in mind — he’s looking at the long-term health of a program he feels is a step or two away from being a perennial power. He loses just two seniors after this season.

“We have more to prove this time,” he said. “A lot of people last year thought we should not have been in there, but we beat all the right people. This time, we want to show we’re legitimate, that we’re a program, that last year wasn’t a fluke.”

And despite the Eagles’ posted numbers leading into the tournament, neither Allen nor boys coach Rob Victoria — each in their first years at the helm — are taking a thing for granted.

“We haven’t been able to take anybody lightly,” Allen said. “And we’re thinking that Far East will be the same way for us. Anything is possible.”

Far East Class A soccer tournamentsWednesday-Friday

Boys

Host-Taegu American School, Camp George, South Korea.

Site-Kelly Field, Camp Walker, South Korea.

Participating teams-Osan American Cougars, Osan Air Base, South Korea (champions in 2005), Robert D. Edgren Eagles, Misawa Air Base, Japan; Taegu American Warriors, Camp George, South Korea; Pusan American Panthers, Camp Hialeah, South Korea; Matthew C. Perry Samurai, Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, Japan; E.J. King Cobras, Sasebo Naval Base, Japan; Korea Kent Foreign Scorpions, Seoul; International Christian-Seoul Guardians; Korea International Phoenix, Pangyo, South Korea.

Returning All-Far East players-Chris Tobiere, Robert D. Edgren (Class AA last year); Andrew Cheeseman, Pusan American; Yousif Gibreel, International Christian-Seoul.

Format/schedule-Single round-robin, two pools, four teams in one pool, five teams in the other, Wednesday. Single-elimination with consolation bracket Thursday and Friday. Championship match 11 a.m. Friday.

Girls

Host-Matthew C. Perry High School, Japan.

Site-Penny Lake Field, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Iwakuni, Japan.

Participating teams-Osan American Cougars, Osan Air Base, South Korea (champions in 2005), Robert D. Edgren Eagles, Misawa Air Base, Japan; Taegu American Warriors, Camp George, South Korea; Pusan American Panthers, Camp Hialeah, South Korea; Matthew C. Perry Samurai, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Iwakuni,Japan.

Returning All-Far East player-Joanne Youngblood, Taegu American.

Format/schedule-Single round-robin, five teams in one pool, Wednesday. Double-elimination playoff Thursday and Friday. Championship match 10 a.m. Friday, followed by second match, if needed.

author picture
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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