CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Wednesday’s season series finales left the Kadena and Kubasaki soccer teams all tied up in zeroes.
“We kept knocking. Kadena kept knocking. Nobody answered,” Kubasaki coach Chris Kelly said after his boys and the Kubasaki’s girls played Kadena’s boys and girls, the defending Far East Class AA tournament champions, to scoreless ties.
The ties gave Kadena’s teams the Okinawa Activities Council regular-season titles. The Panthers boys went 1-0-4, and the girls were 3-0-2.
It was an unusual season for the teams that regularly compete for Far East championships. Kadena has 10 titles and Kubasaki four.
Of their 10 matches this season, six ended in draws, four of them scoreless. Kubasaki’s boys have tied eight matches this season and Kadena’s boys five. Kadena’s girls have three ties and Kubasaki the two scoreless draws with Kadena.
“We have a knack for tying again and again,” said Kelly, whose Dragons boys (8-3-8) tied the Panthers (6-3-5) four times. “That just says you have two very evenly matched squads, either one of which can win on any given night.”
Despite the dearth of goals, the two matches did yield one silver lining.
“To win Far East, you have to play good defense, and both sides did that today,” said girls coach Hoa Nguyen of Kadena (14-0-3).
Defense definitely ruled the girls match, as Kadena fullbacks Danielle Mefford and Tanisha McChesney, sweeper Stephanie Eik and goalkeeper Helen Schrock shut down Dragons strikers Jessica Osborne (9 goals) and Kara Koeneke (8).
Kubasaki’s backfield of Diana White, Alexis Salmon and Sarah Rhodes — who celebrated her 18th birthday Wednesday — and goalkeeper Alix Mackey put the clamps on Jen Abel, who has a Pacific-leading 49 goals, and Kyla Feeney (13).
“There were opportunities for both teams, but they weren’t easy opportunities, and that’s what good defense does,” Nguyen said.
Feeney had the game’s best opportunity five minutes into the second half. She took an Abel corner kick and blasted it toward the net. Mackey was out of position, but White got a head on it, squelching the threat.
“She’s not very good at heading,” said coach Terry Chumley of Kubasaki (5-6-2). “That was her best header all year.”
“It was, like, perfect to me,” White said. “If it was over my head, I probably miss it. It was reflex.”
“I thought it was in,” Feeney said. “Great defensive play.”
Sweepers Alex Mierzejewski and keeper Brandon McCullough of Kadena, and Kubasaki’s David Krievs and Justin Martinez duplicated such efforts in the boys match. Time and again, Krievs and Mierzejewski would kick the ball away from an attacking striker, and Martinez and McCullough made point-blank save after point-blank save.
“My mother’s maiden name is Wall,” McCullough said.
“That’s probably why,” Martinez said with a laugh when told of that.
“You couldn’t have asked much more of McCullough,” Kadena boys coach Tom McKinney said. “He’s an athlete. Reaction. He reacted to what was given him.”
Kelly hoped that Martinez’s performance was “a sign of things to come” during the Class AA tournament May 21-25 at Kadena. Martinez gave up only four goals last season, three in losing the tournament final 3-0 to Kadena, but was left off the All-Tournament team.
“He may come into the tournament with something to prove,” Kelly said. “He is a good goalkeeper and he makes the big saves that you need to make.”
Penalty kick boosts ASIJ girls, halts Yokota’s streak
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — The longest unbeaten streak in Yokota girls soccer history ended Wednesday when American School In Japan edged the Panthers 2-1 on a penalty kick by Appan Lok with 15 minutes left.
Yokota fell to 11-1-2 overall and 6-1-2 in the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools. The Mustangs improved to 6-1 and can win the league title Thursday against Zama or Monday against Kinnick, both at home.
“We really wanted this game,” said coach Matt Whipple, whose Panthers got their goal from Lauryn Thomas in the second half. “We wanted the championship and to control our destiny, but that didn’t happen.”
The contentious match featured two missed penalty-kick opportunities by Yokota’s Daniya Nixon. After a foul in the area, Nixon hit the post on the first try, but ASIJ goalkeeper Carly Vaire was whistled for leaving the goalline too soon. Nixon tried again and Vaire stopped it.
The foul call so infuriated ASIJ coach Carlos Aranda that he came onto the field to argue with the referees, and was still on the field during Nixon’s second penalty kick.
“I felt like I had to do it,” Aranda said. “I won’t do it again.”
Laura Inglesrud of ASIJ scored the match’s first goal in the 30th minute off a corner kick.