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Kyemere Blanding of Okinawa's 1st Marine Aircraft Wing goes up high to boot the ball against Okinawa's 3rd Marine Division/Expeditionary Force during Monday's round-robin play. Division topped Wing 3-1.
Kyemere Blanding of Okinawa's 1st Marine Aircraft Wing goes up high to boot the ball against Okinawa's 3rd Marine Division/Expeditionary Force during Monday's round-robin play. Division topped Wing 3-1. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)
Kyemere Blanding of Okinawa's 1st Marine Aircraft Wing goes up high to boot the ball against Okinawa's 3rd Marine Division/Expeditionary Force during Monday's round-robin play. Division topped Wing 3-1.
Kyemere Blanding of Okinawa's 1st Marine Aircraft Wing goes up high to boot the ball against Okinawa's 3rd Marine Division/Expeditionary Force during Monday's round-robin play. Division topped Wing 3-1. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)
Jimmy Sumaya, right, of Marine Corps Base Hawaii battles for the ball with Jimmy Joseph, left, of Okinawa's 3rd Force Service Support Group Defending champion Hawaii blanked 3rd Force 6-0.
Jimmy Sumaya, right, of Marine Corps Base Hawaii battles for the ball with Jimmy Joseph, left, of Okinawa's 3rd Force Service Support Group Defending champion Hawaii blanked 3rd Force 6-0. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)
Michael Gibson, left, of Marine Corps Base Hawaii battles for the ball with Jonathan Alzate of Okinawa's 3rd Force Service Support Group.
Michael Gibson, left, of Marine Corps Base Hawaii battles for the ball with Jonathan Alzate of Okinawa's 3rd Force Service Support Group. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The more things have changed, the more they’ve stayed the same for Marine Corps Base Hawaii’s soccer team.

The defending Marine Forces Pacific Regional Tournament champions welcomed back just three players from the squad that won the title twice in four years — a lack of experience not obvious from Monday’s opening round-robin game.

Led by Michael Gibson — the player they call “Golden Head” — the islanders bulldozed their way to a 6-0 shutout of Okinawa’s 3rd Force Service Support Group, which won the tournament in 2000 and 2001.

“That bald head is gold,” coach Gerry Panetta said of Gibson, who netted two of his three goals on headers off throw-ins from sweeper and team captain Bob Thurston.

“We’ve been working” with the throw-ins, Panetta said. “Normally, it doesn’t work but we were 2-for-2 today, which is great.”

Gibson, Thurston and winger Jimmy Sumaya are the lone familiar faces on a Hawaii squad that lost most of its lineup, including 2002 tournament MVP Ian Brooks, to transfers over the summer and deployments in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

“We got hit hard when deployments came up,” said Panetta, who has coached Hawaii to tournament titles in 1999 and last year.

As a result, he’s has had to juggle his lineup, moving Gibson from a customary front spot to midfield.

“He controls the game much better from the middle, so we put him there,” Panetta said.

Despite its losses, Hawaii appeared in mid-tournament form Monday, thanks, Panetta said, to practicing two or three times a week for six weeks, and to three warm-up matches.

Many of Hawaii’s players, Panetta said, also “stay active” by playing for teams in civilian leagues on Oahu.

“You shouldn’t lose a step” as defending champions, Panetta said. “I hope we can continue this. ... All the hard work appears to be paying off.”

Also facing the 2003 tournament minus most of the players who led the team to its two straight titles: 3rd Force.

Former All-Marine midfielder, captain and coach Clint Dyer has transferred. Kevin Pierre, 2001 tournament MVP, no longer plays. Now he referees with the Ryukyu International Soccer Association.

Monday's summaries

Hawaii 6, 3rd Force 0

First half: Hawaii-Michael Gibson (1) (Bob Thurston), 9th minute; Hawaii-John Barros-Valera (1) (Andrew Urey), 10th minute; Hawaii-Michael Gibson (2) (Bob Thurston), 19th minute; Hawaii-Michael Gibson (3) (Ramon Aldana), 26th minute; Hawaii-Bob Thurston (1) (penalty kick), 27th minute. Second half: Hawaii-John Barros-Valera (2) (unassisted), 49th minute

Division 3, Wing 1

First half: Division-Juan Sotelo (1) (penalty kick), 11th minute; Division-Alimamy Sesay (1) (unassisted), 21st minute; Wing-Marcus Daise (1) (Fidel Torres), 28th minute. Second half: Division-Michael Russell (1) (unassisted), 60th minute

Base 2, 3rd Force 1

First half: 3rd Force-Lindsay Dennis (1) (unassisted), 13th minute; Base-Adam Wentzel (1) (Gene Mardigras), 14th minute; Base-Gene Mardigras (1) (Adam Wentzel), 28th minute

Iwakuni 2, Wing 1, SO (7-6)

First half: Wing-Mike Scott (1) (Jesse Spar), 10th minute. Second half: Iwakuni-Jose Donjuan (unassisted), 55th minute. Shootout: Iwakuni-Cesar Mejia (miss), Jose Donjuan, Josh Melvin, Randall Villavicencio, Terrence Smith, Mijael Valencia (miss), Nathan Farrady, Brian Auffman, Paul Heiss. Wing-Hester Renoso, Jesse Spar (miss), Adam Manlove, Fidel Torres, Tony Winters, Marcus Daise (miss), Peter Burcheson, Jeffrey Davis, Zachary Coates (miss).

Base 3, Division 2, SO (4-2)

First half: Division-Bradford Pupello (1) (unassisted), 11th minute. Second half: Base-Adam Wentzel (2) (penalty kick), 32nd minute; Division-Giovanni Rivera (1) (unassisted), 47th minute; Base-Luther Bellasse (1) (Zach White), 51st minute. Shootout: Division-Juan Sotero, Luis Morales (miss), Bradford Pupello, Giovanni Rivera (miss). Base-Adam Wentzell, Luther Bellasse, Geronimo Guzman, Matthew Kirby. Red card-Base, Gene Mardigras, 50th minute, dangerous play.

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