Two weeks before Seoul American’s regular season had even begun, coach Lori Rogers said she expected “a lot of success this year” for her Falcons girls soccer team.
Her words proved prophetic, as the Falcons soared to the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference regular-season title.
Then, behind playmaking junior Sarah Eades and freshman goalkeeper Liz Gleaves, Seoul American blanked Seoul Foreign 2-0 in Saturday’s KAIAC Division I tournament title match. It was the Falcons’ first championship in three years.
Chemistry, Rogers said, proved the biggest factor in the Falcons (17-0-1) putting together their finest complete team in six years.
“Last year, we had individually strong players, but we didn’t quite put it together,” Rogers said of a team that went 17-7 and lost out to Seoul Foreign for the conference and tournament titles. “This year, it all meshed, and we fed off each other.”
Getting Eades, a transfer from 2007 Far East Class A Tournament champion Daegu American, and Gleaves, a three-sport athlete, “didn’t hurt,” Rogers said.
On a dreary, rainy Saturday at Seoul American’s Falcon Field, Eades scored one goal and assisted on the other, and Gleaves saved a penalty-kick try by Seoul Foreign’s Karen Lee in the 20th minute.
“Young talent like that, she’s a natural athlete,” Rogers said of Gleaves, who even moved up front a couple times this season and scored two goals. “She can play any position.”
Though she and the Falcons have thoroughly enjoyed the season, Rogers stopped short of predicting anything heading into the Far East Class AA Tournament in three weeks at Yokota Air Base, Japan.
“We know we have a shot at the title, but there are other teams out there who also have a shot. It’s going to be an interesting Far East,” Rogers said.
n Seoul Foreign’s boys won their seventh straight KAIAC tournament title to go with six straight conference crowns. The Crusaders (23-0) had been unable until now to put together a perfect season during that run.
Senior Remco Rademaker closed his stellar career with three goals in a 4-0 shutout of Yongsan International-Seoul, giving him a season-record 61 and a career mark of 183.
Seoul American’s boys (10-3-3) took third place in the tournament, edging Seoul International 3-1 on goals by Aleks O’Grady, Willie Rios and Matt Nutter.
“It wasn’t quite what I wanted, but it worked out,” Falcons coach Robert Victoria said.
Williams set hurdles record; Zama earns landmark winSimilarly wet conditions on the track didn’t seem to trip up athletes and teams vying to make Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools track and field history.
At Yokota High School, Yokota junior Phillip Williams ran the 400 hurdles in 57.7 seconds, topping by a tenth of a second the 13-year-old mark set by Christian Academy In Japan’s Arthur Kraai.
Two years ago, Williams was culled from a group of young athletes whom coach Matt Grant hoped to mold into his next team of hurdlers.
“He was reluctant at first,” Grant said of Williams, who has worked with former collegiate hurdler Dennis Hawthorne, now a Panthers assistant coach.
“He has the drive,” Grant said. “He can see now he has the potential. He’s knocking at the door. He’ll be there” by the time of the Kanto league finals May 10, also at Yokota.
n Down the road at Camp Zama, Zama American’s boys scored a landmark victory over St. Mary’s International, beating the Titans for the first time since 1988, by a score of 70-48.
“The kids have worked hard. They earned it,” coach Mitch Moellendick said.
Miguel Rodriguez won the 200, Ken Johnson the long jump and 400, Andrew Quallio swept the three distance races and Zama won the 400 and 1,600 relays.
Stopping short of predicting victory, Moellendick said he was hoping for similar efforts in the Kanto finals and next week against CAJ. “I don’t know if we’ll win, but we’ll be in every one of those,” he said.
Thomas shines from corner; Cobras boys strike backGenerally, corner kicks aren’t supposed to find the inside of the net. But junior midfielder Lauryn Thomas of Yokota has made a habit of doing just that in her two years in a Panthers uniform.
On Saturday, she scored twice on corner kicks, helping the Panthers complete a two-game sweep at Robert D. Edgren 7-0.
“She has that down,” coach Matt Whipple said of Thomas, who has nine goals and 12 assists.
n After scoring just one goal in three home losses to Yokota on April 18-19, E.J. King’s boys found their stride against Nile C. Kinnick, scoring 12 times in winning all three weekend matches.
“We finally got untracked,” coach Michael Erickson said of his defending Class A Tournament champions (7-9-1). “The guys were finishing. We were firing on all cylinders.”