Last spring, it seemed that the Yokota boys soccer team’s four-year run of success had come to an end. But this weekend, a new crop of players helped the Panthers to a breakout weekend at Sasebo Naval Base.

Junior striker Bronson Bailey scored seven times and sophomore midfielder Stefan Welch scored five goals and assisted on seven as the Panthers won two Japan Soccer League games against host E.J. King and two “friendlies” against Canadian Academy of Kobe.

The start bodes well for Yokota, which finished second in the JSL for the first time since it formed and took seventh in the Far East Class AA Tournament after two straight second-place finishes.

“We were a little disappointed” with the 2004 season, coach Tim Pujol said, adding that the Panthers “may have been too dependent” on the scoring of Akira “A.J.” Host (25 goals) and Karl Gerstner’s goalkeeping.

“I’m already seeing ... a little more team play and a little less reliance” on one or two stars, Pujol said.

Ten Panthers scored and 10 assisted as Yokota shut out E.J. King 7-0 and 5-0 and beat Canadian Academy 9-3 and 8-0.

“Bronson’s broken out really strong, no doubt about it,” Pujol said of his third-year starter. “He’s got experience, he’s gotten stronger, he understands what our team goals are. Stefan did a really great job of finding him. They work really well together.”

Also contributing are two players from Pujol’s fifth straight Rising Sun Bowl champion football team, Jamal McNeill and D.J. McCary, the latter returning to the field after taking the last two springs off.

“D.J. is a good competitor and athlete and he’s going to help us. Jamal is so strong, so quick. He’s going to be the guy who holds everything together back on defense,” Pujol said.

A pleasant surprise was the play of sophomore goalkeeper Justin Hudson.

“He’s a good athlete, a tough kid and he’s really coachable,” Pujol said. “And he’s caught on so quick and has such natural instincts. When he gets some experience under his belt, he’s going to be an asset to this team.”

Pujol said he wasn’t thinking too far ahead, not with a team laden with freshmen and sophomores who will graduate at Yokota and can improve.

“This is a building concept that’s going to go on for some time,” he said. “We’ll be competitive, (but) it’s really early in the season. I’m pleased with the team play that I saw, but there’s a lot in front of us. Despite the success, there’s a lot of rough edges we have to smooth out and we’re going to work hard to make that happen.”

Panthers right-hander Novak stays hot

A day after pitching a five-inning perfect game, Yokota senior right-hander Shawn Novak kept his hot streak going, striking out all six Matthew C. Perry batters he faced in an abbreviated two-inning start Saturday.

The Panthers beat the Samurai 19-0 in three innings, then defeated Robert D. Edgren 17-1 in a two-inning game called off when the temperature dropped suddenly, from 57 around noon to a wind chill of 43 with a 30-mph wind.

In about 21 hours, Novak threw seven perfect innings and struck out 20 of 21 batters.

Japan baseball


Yokota 19, Matthew C. Perry 0 (3)

At Yokota Air Base, Japan

Chris Shelton hit two home runs and drove in five runs, Sean Martel added a three-run homer and Colin Gray a two-run single as the Panthers scored seven runs each in the second and fourth innings. Shawn Novak extended his pitching streak to seven perfect innings over two starts with 20 strikeouts. The game was called after three innings by coaches’ agreement.

Robert D. Edgren 14, Matthew C. Perry 4 (5)

At Yokota Air Base, Japan

The Eagles got their only win in three tries on the weekend, taking advantage of 10 walks and nine wild pitches to score six runs in the third inning and seven in the fourth. Curtis Kruse led the Eagles with a two-run single, while Evan Tablatan walked three times and Jason Smith drew two walks and stole two bases. Mike Menserado walked twice and stole three bases but took the loss for the Samurai. The game was called after five innings due to the Japan League’s 10-run mercy rule.

Yokota 18, Matthew C. Perry 1 (2)

At Yokota Air Base, Japan

Sean Martel went 2-for-2 with three RBIs and Arrio Granum, Shawn Novak, Ryan Kreulen and Evan Gray each drove in two runs and the Panthers swept their four weekend games, taking advantage of 10 walks. The game was called after two innings by coaches’ agreement, after the temperature dropped sharply, high winds kicked up and the sun disappeared at the start of the second inning.

Japan boys soccer

Saturday's summaries

Robert D. Edgren 3, Matthew C. Perry 2

At Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, Japan

Halftime: Edgren 2-0. Goals: Edgren, Nathan Fine 2 (2), Patrick Pezoulas 1 (2); Perry, Andre Fung 1 (2), Richard Naseer 1 (1).

Yokota 5, E.J. King 0

At Sasebo Naval Base, Japan

Halftime: Yokota 3-0. Goals: Yokota, Jamal McNeill 2 (4), Stefan Welch 1 (5), Andreas Cabral 1 (3), Ricky Byrnes 1 (1). Assists: Yokota, Stefan Welch 2, Bronson Bailey 1.

Yokota 9, Canadian Academy 3

At Sasebo Naval Base, Japan

Halftime: Yokota 4-0. Goals: Yokota, Nick Host 3 (3), Jamal McNeill 2 (2), Bronson Bailey 1 (7), Stefan Welch 1 (4), Andreas Cabral 1 (2), D.J. McCary 1 (3). Assists: Yokota, Stefan Welch 2, Kenta Takahashi 2, D.J. McCary 1, Chad Evans 1, Nick Host 1.

E.J. King 5, Canadian Academy 0

At Sasebo Naval Base, Japan

Halftime: E.J. King 4-0. Goals: E.J. King, Daniel Goddard 2 (2), David Years 1 (1), Matt Heitstuman 1 (1), Brandon Gilbert 1 (1). Assists: E.J. King, Leif Bogen 1, Keith Sampson 1, Sean Alt 1, Daniel Goddard 1. Goalkeeper saves: E.J. King, Matthew Baker 7.

Friday's summary

Robert D. Edgren 2, Matthew C. Perry 1

Halftime: 1-1. Goals: Edgren, Kristian Mostert 1 (1), Patrick Pezoulas 1 (1); Perry, Andre Fung 1 (1).

Korea boys soccer

Saturday's summaries

Seoul Foreign 4, Taejon Christian International 1

At Taejon, South Korea

Halftime: Seoul Foreign 3-1. Goals: Seoul Foreign, Remco Rademaker 2 (8), Yuuku Guzman 2 (3); TCIS, Patrick Song 1 (4). Assists: Seoul Foreign, Harry Creech 2.

Osan American 3, Taegu American 1

At Camp Walker, South Korea

Halftime: Osan 2-0. Goals: Osan, Roberto Kelly 2 (2), Kevin Finch 1 (1); Taegu, Brad Roh 1 (1).

Friday's summaries

Seoul Foreign 11, Taegu American 1

At Camp Walker, South Korea

Halftime: Seoul Foreign, 4-0. Goals: Seoul, Remco Rademaker 3 (6), Harry Creech 1 (4), Eddy Kim 1 (3), Yuuku Guzman 1 (1), Alfred Balson 1 (1), Collin Russel 1 (1), Kazuki Guzman 1 (1), John Oh 1 (1), Moises Park 1 (1); Taegu, Aaron Dick 1 (1). Assists: Seoul, Moises Park 2, Kazuki Guzman 1, Eddy Kim 1, Harry Creech 1, Yuuki Guzman 1; Taegu, Seung-am Kim 1.

Taejon Christian International 5, Osan American 1

At Taejon, South Korea

Halftime: 1-1. Goals: TCIS, Sae Joon Jeon 2 (4), Jesse Park 2 (4), Shin Song 1 (1); Osan, Carlos Albaladejo 1 (1). Assists: TCIS, Sae Joon Jeon 1; Osan, Josh Penrod 1.

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