Ofosuhene helps Wing win first Marine Forces title
Stars and Stripes October 3, 2004
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Desperate for a center-midfielder after his starter got sent off in the semifinals and was forced to miss the championship, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing coach Peter Burchenson turned to a guy who by day works as a pharmacy technician.
Samuel “Doc” Ofosuhene proceeded to fill out his own prescription — a championship one, scoring two goals and assisting on another as Wing captured its first Marine Forces Pacific Regional Soccer Tournament title — downing Marine Corps Base Camp Butler 4-1 Friday.
“He’s been playing well all tournament,” said Burchenson, who inserted Ofosuhene into the center-mid spot after losing starter Arturo Escamilla for the final match. Escamilla was sent off late in Wing’s 2-0 semifinal victory over Iwakuni Air Station for getting his second caution of the match.
“I knew he could play it. He did everything he was supposed to,” Burchenson said.
In so doing, Ofosuhene, 22, a lance corporal of Ghanaian descent who lists Chester, N.Y., as his hometown, boosted Wing to its first tournament title in only its second championship appearance. Base was making its first finals appearance.
It was the first time since 1995 that the tournament champion wasn’t 3rd Force Service Support Group of Okinawa, champions in 2000 and 2001, or Marine Corps Base Hawaii, which won from 1995-99 and 2002-03.
“It feels good,” said Ofosuhene.
He was in the thick of things from the start, as Wing pressed the attack in the first 15 minutes, going right after Base’s 4-4-2 alignment. With Base concentrating on stopping center-forward Evangelos Chimonas, with 10 tournament goals, avenues opened for Ofosuhene and others.
“Their sweeper was always comfortable back there. He was never tested,” Burchenson said. “We put Chimonas back there and the sweeper never got comfortable, and it opened things up for everybody else.”
“I moved to the left and five people moved with me,” Chimonas said. “That leaves others open in the middle. Doc’s (Ofosuhene) taking care of business today. That’s teamwork.”
Ten minutes in, Ofosuhene fed left wing Alimune Diop, going toward the left corner. He sent a crossing shot into the net past diving Base goalkeeper Chad Glezen.
Four minutes later, with Wing’s Anthony Vargas set to take a corner kick, Ofosuhene slid toward the far post, Vargas sent the ball to him and he headed it into the net for what proved to be the match winner.
“I knew it was coming to me,” Ofosuhene said. “I took my time, put it on the ground. I knew it was going in.”
Base then changed its alignment, moving Christopher Blake, normally a defenseman, up front. That worked earlier, when Base knocked out 3rd Force 1-0 in the semifinals on Blake’s goal, but not until late in the final.
By the time Blake converted Randall Martinez’s through ball in the 68th minute, it meant only that Base trimmed Wing’s lead to 3-1; Wing increased its margin in the 44th minute, on Ofosuhene’s header off a throw-in by Tony Winters.
Chimonas, the tournament’s MVP, sealed it with his 10th goal in the 81st minute off a Vargas assist.
Goalkeeper Michael Mulroney did the rest, stopping two clutch shots by Base’s Eric Solano and Shelo St. Pierre midway through the second half.