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European edition, Sunday, April 29, 2007

VILSECK, Germany — Mannheim’s stamina proved greater than Vilseck’s emotion on Saturday as the Bison defeated Vilseck 2-1 in a Division II-South boys soccer rematch.

Evan Crockett and Adam Pauley scored for Mannheim (2-2 in D-II South, 2-3 overall) in the second half to wipe out a 1-0 halftime deficit. Jakob Skell got the Vilseck goal.

Vilseck (2-2 and 3-2) was playing the game, as it has all season, for John Watsek, who died in a traffic accident on March 5, the first day of soccer practice.

Vilseck coach Bill Ratcliff said Watsek, a star defender who played on the team the previous two seasons, had been earmarked as a likely team captain this year.

“He lived for soccer,” Ratcliff said. He said Watsek had enough credits to graduate over the summer but arranged to continue attending school so he could play soccer one more year.

Watsek’s death brought the Vilseck players together as they drew on each other for strength in a time of tragedy, he said.

“Our chemistry jelled much quicker than it would have otherwise because we had to lean on each other,” Ratcliff said.

Mannheim coach Danny DePriest said Vilseck played with a lot of emotion, something that is understandable given what the team has gone through with the loss of a player. “We respect that,” he said.

He said Mannheim, which lost the teams’ first game on a last-minute goal, focused on staying strong until the final whistle.

Both teams are young — Vilseck has just two seniors on its roster while Mannheim has three — and started the game fast.

But even young legs grew tired under an unusually hot April sun, and Mannheim’s superior fitness started to tell in the second half. Crockett scored in the 60th minute and Pauley a short while later for the win.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.
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