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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Defending Class AA Far East boys soccer champion Kadena proved Thursday it could compete against men as well.

Anthony Soroka scored two goals and the Panthers held on for a 4-3 victory over Inter-Chatan, a team of GIs and civilians competing in Okinawa’s open soccer circuit.

Kadena coach Sue Fitzpatrick said she’d hoped to use the match to try players in different positions in preparation for the Class AA tournament, scheduled for April 26-30 at Yokota Air Base, Japan. But she and the team got much more than that.

“This was great practice for Far East,” Fitzpatrick said. “We won’t face another team as physical as this one.”

Inter-Chatan seized an early lead when Anik Emery scored off a throw-in by Mitch McDonald in the 13th minute.

Kadena responded with four unanswered goals. Soroka tied it 1-1 off an indirect kick by Nathan LaGrave in the 33rd. Just before the half, Aaron Zendejas gave Kadena a lead it wouldn’t lose.

Brenden Stanford and Soroka added goals in the second half before Emery and Jorge Perez chopped the margin to one with goals in the 78th and 79th minutes.

Inter-Chatan players tipped their hats to their conquerors.

“They hustle,” former All-Marine player and coach Clinton Dyer said. “They always go to the ball, they support each other well, they’re aggressive on both offense and defense and they’re not afraid to shoot.”

Yamato Dickerson played for the Class AA champs before graduating last June. Still living and working on Okinawa, he plays for Inter-Chatan and says the Panthers of 2004 could be even better than last year’s squad.

“Last year, we had good players, but not good communication,” Dickerson said. “This year, they communicate much better. ... I think they can win Far East again,” he said.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He served 10½ years in the Air Force, the last 4½ assigned to Stripes in Tokyo, and was then hired by Stripes on Oct. 25, 1985. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages Pacific Storm Tracker.
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