Lady Dragons repeat as Class AA champs
CAMP ZAMA, Japan — Once again, Kubasaki put its best Foote forward.
Sophomore striker Erin Foote scored twice in the first half as the Lady Dragons won their second straight Class AA Far East High School girls soccer championship with a 2-0 victory over Guam High in Friday’s final.
“It’s always awesome to do things twice,” said Foote, the 2002 Most Valuable Player named to the All-Tournament team a second consecutive year.
Kubasaki prevailed in a matchup of two clubs that thrived on explosive offense and quickness. The Lady Dragons outscored their opponents 30-2 in six tournament matches, while the Lady Panthers went 14-0 during the Guam season, with a goal differential of 66-3.
“This was an awesome team effort,” Foote said, crediting the Kubasaki defenders, midfielder Mary Ann Ulrich and Debra Kinzley’s 12 saves. “The defense kept us in it in the second half, there was Spam’s [Ulrich’s] leadership and Debra in goal.”
Guam coach Santiago Ortiz praised his team’s fight in the second half but felt it was victimized by some missed opportunities.
“We had some chances and didn’t complete them,” he said. “We left Foote unattended, and they capitalized.”
Foote scored 38 goals last year ago and capped this season with 26 in 12 games, the last two securing Kubasaki’s repeat.
Left alone 15 yards away from the Lady Panthers’ goal in the 34th minute, Foote took a feed from center-forward Samantha Showns and left-footed it past a diving Jessica Charles and into the right corner of the net to give Kubasaki a 1-0 advantage.
“Nothing you can do about that,” Ortiz muttered immediately after the score. “Leave her unmarked, it cost us and we paid for it.”
Then, Guam got whistled for a push just outside the 18-yard box. Foote lined up for a direct kick and arched it high, off the hands of Charles into the upper right corner.
Despite taking command in the first half, the Lady Dragons remained diligent down the stretch.
“They were a good team to play,” Foote said. “They were up to our level. We had to play the way we know how. We had to go all out. They’re just as fast as we are. We had to go after the 50-50 balls and win 70 percent of those if we were to have a chance to win.”
They also had to battle an old friend and teammate, Christine Chop, Guam’s senior center-back.
“We knew all about Erin and put somebody on her the whole match,” Chop said. “But they’re a great team. We wanted to play the best, and they are the best.”
Coming into the season, some thought Kubasaki might be vulnerable, particularly on defense.
“It was hard this season, rebuilding, putting people in new places. But we came through,” Foote said.
Likewise, the Lady Panthers battled injuries earlier in the week and lost their first two matches, but they won three straight to reach the final for the first time. It was only the second time in four Class AA tournaments that a non-Okinawa team made it to the title game.
“Coming this far, recovering and making it to the final, I’m pleased,” Ortiz said. “They did well.”