Any way you slice it, the Okinawa Activities Council season series between Kubasaki’s and Kadena’s soccer teams is as even as it gets:
Four games, two each played by the girls and boys teams, each decided by 3-2 scores, each team with one victory and one loss.
The latest meeting came Friday, when Mitch Shibley headed Rimar West’s crossing pass from the right corner into the net in the 80th minute as the visiting Dragons edged the host Panthers at Kadena High School.
“I was telling (Kadena coach) Tom (McKinney) after the match that we’re all going to have stomach ulcers at the end of the season,” Kubasaki coach Chris Kelly said.
“Every match, it’s going to be a fight to the last whistle. We were fortunate to come out on top this time.”
For Kadena’s part, McKinney blamed a defensive “letdown at the end” for the verdict. “But those are easy to fix. Those letdowns will go away.”
Sophomore Stanley Schrock converted Dillon Bush’s corner kick to put Kadena ahead 1-0 in the 11th minute. One minute later, Kadena fullback Jamil Barney inadvertently legged Colton Sadler’s free kick into his own net, tying the game 1-1.
Jacob Hess converted a corner kick by West six minutes later, giving Kubasaki a 2-1 lead. In the 43rd minute, Schrock took a through pass from Ryan Dang, cut toward the center and clanged it in off the right post, leveling the match 2-2.
“Stan seems to know what to do and where he’s supposed to be,” McKinney said. “He’s going to keep maturing. By Far East time, he and the whole team will get better and stronger.”
Kubasaki’s own rising sophomore star, goalkeeper Zach Stallings, came up big in his fourth game replacing departed All-Far East goalkeeper Justin Martinez.
“He’s solid,” Kelly said. “I’m hoping he can fill that void for us.”
Okinawa football stars shine on track as wellThe same PCS Plane gifts that helped propel Kadena to its first Far East Class AA football championship showed Friday they’re pretty fair athletes on the track as well.
Sophomore Brandon Harris won the 100 meters in 11.7 seconds, senior Roosevelt Payne won the 400 in 55.10 and the two teamed with Ernest Carr to win the 400 relay in 45.03 seconds in an OAC triangular meet at Kubasaki’s Mike Petty Stadium.
“They add character, speed, intensity in our workouts and they show leadership,” Panthers coach Beth Pulaski said. “I’m glad to have them on the team.”
Carr ran for 592 yards on 66 carries last fall, including 167 on 19 tries in Kadena’s 39-13 Class AA championship victory over Yokota. Harris scored four times on four touches in the same contest.
Kadena’s speedsters aren’t the only new talent shining on the track. Kubasaki sports its own newcomers, in sprinter Marquette Warren, a transfer from Georgia; versatile junior sprinter Natasha Copeland; and freshman distance runner Quirina Cohn, a distance specialist.
Warren, in particular, “has been a godsend for us,” coach Charles Burns said. “He’s a pleasant addition.”
Such new talent might herald an exciting season, Burns said. “It’s going to be fun, man.”
Kubasaki’s comeback kids edge Kadena in 8 inningsGet a lead on Kubasaki’s baseball team, and you have them right where they want you. Or so it would seem based on the Dragons’ first six games of the season.
For the third time this season, Kubasaki came from behind to win a game, as Dillon Mach singled in P.J. Varner from second base with the winning run as the Dragons went up 2-0 in the OAC season series, edging Kadena 6-5 in eight innings at Foster Athletics Complex Field 9.
“I’m not sure what it is,” coach Randy Toor said. “In years past, we would just put our heads down. It’s nice to see that we keep fighting like that.”
On Field 2 just up the street, the OAC softball game was no contest. Carrie Thompson-Davis struck out seven and the Dragons routed the Panthers 17-0, the most one-sided victory by Kubasaki in the six-season history of the series.
Young stars boosting Yokota soccer teams in early goingOn teams laden with returning veteran talent, it’s been the youngsters setting the pace for the Yokota Panthers soccer teams early in the DODDS-Japan season.
Sophomores Courtney Richards (12 goals) and Julia Martel (7) have shined brightest as the girls have gotten off to a 5-1 start.
“Courtney lives, breathes, eats and sleeps soccer,” coach Matt Whipple said. “Her job is to score goals. She does her job well. I wouldn’t want to compete against her.”
Sophomore Jimmy Niescier, who transferred from Patch in Germany, is second on the team with three goals and has two assists for the Yokota boys (2-1).
Coach Tim Pujol put him on right wing, with Yuuki Chase, a freshman who’s played since age 6 and plays with Japanese teams in the offseason, on left wing. That allowed Yokota to move senior Riki Byrnes, normally a midfielder, to defense “which we need,” Pujol said.
“They’ve been really important, filling positions where we really needed them,” Pujol said of Chase and Niescier.