Kinnick girls lock up Japan soccer title
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — A red-letter weekend for Nile C. Kinnick put the Red Devils back in control of the girls race in the Japan Soccer League.
With senior Alexis Zukowski scoring three goals and Lisa Murray and Mariko Wood one each, the Red Devils came away from a first-place showdown with two victories over Robert D. Edgren, which shared the top spot with Kinnick entering the weekend.
Zukowski netted two goals in Friday’s 3-1 victory, then added a solo tally as the Red Devils blanked the Eagles 2-0. Defending champion Kinnick improved to 9-0-1, while the Eagles fell to 7-2-1.
“It feels pretty good because we’ve played good competition,” coach Nico Hindie said.
With a second straight JSL title in hand — Kinnick and Edgren each have one regular-season game remaining — the Red Devils take aim at next week’s Far East Class AA Tournament.
Kinnick has outscored its opponents 55-2 and rookie goalkeeper Carol Tully has eight shutouts this season.
Hindie thinks the Red Devils can improve on their third-place showing in last year’s Far East.
“I think we’re slightly ahead of last year,” he said. “We have more speed than last year. [Tully] has made great strides so far.”
Along with Zukowski’s performance and 10 goals from fellow senior Robyn Hopp, the play of sophomore transfer Tillie Pinson (seven goals, six assists) has been a boon for Kinnick, Hindie said.
“That takes the pressure off Robyn and Alexis. We have three legitimate goal scorers,” he said. “The defense has matured nicely, and the midfielders have played well.”
Kinnick’s toughest opponents will be two-time defending champion Kubasaki and pre-tournament favorite Kadena, both of Okinawa.
Hindie said the Red Devils are up for the challenge.
“I think we’re contenders to make an impact in the tournament,” he said. “The girls are hungry for it.”