Seoul American boys set for shot at title
Hokyung Shin and Seoul American’s boys soccer team took care of the business they needed to on Saturday to set up an all-or-nothing showdown Wednesday for the team’s first league regular-season title since 2002.
Shin assisted on three goals as the Falcons blanked International Christian-Uijongbu 4-0 at rainy Seoul American’s Sims Field. Simon Nutter, Kevin Orta, Allen Choi and Tristan Williams scored goals.
The Falcons improved to 7-0-4 in Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Five-Cities Division, with the regular-season finale Wednesday at Taejon Christian International (8-1-2) and the title and the top seed in next weekend’s league tournament on the line.
“The showdown comes Wednesday. We’ll see how it goes,” coach Steve Boyd said of the team’s first visit to TCIS’ sparkling new campus and turfed field in Daejeon’s Techno Valley. “Whatever happens, it will set up an interesting KAIAC (tournament). They know exactly what’s on the line and so do we."
It will be a battle of scorers and playmakers, including Dragons freshman Paul Bin, who leads TCIS with 19 goals and six assists, and Falcons senior David Voelker, with a team-leading 16 goals. Shin has five goals and seven assists on the season.
The KAIAC tournament is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Sims Field. The girls tournament takes place at Seoul Foreign, which has clinched the regular-season title and top seed for the fifth straight year and eighth time in nine seasons.
Seoul American’s girls also beat the Eagles 4-0, while at Yongsan International School-Seoul, Daegu's boys stunned the Guardians with a 2-2 draw, a day after YIS-Seoul deadlocked 1-1 at Osan American. The Guardians girls got a hat trick from Emily Birmingham in downing the Warriors 5-2.
While soccer went on as scheduled, Osan vs. Daegu and Osan vs. Seoul American baseball and softball games were postponed due to rain and wet grounds, Falcons softball coach YunHui Danforth said. They’ll be made up May 11, baseball coach Joel McDonald said.
In Japan, where rain was hardly a bother but temperatures remained unseasonably cold, Matthew C. Perry’s boys soccer team got a penalty-kick tie-breaking goal from Gaku Lange, rallying the Samurai from a 1-0 halftime deficit for a 2-1 upset of Kadena, visiting from Okinawa.
“Not bad for a little school,” said Samurai coach Mark Lange of reigning Far East Division II champion Perry’s enrollment of just over 150, compared to the nearly 1,000 students who attend Kadena, fourth at Far East Division I last year. “A pretty big day for Perry.”
Kyle Jones put the Panthers, who lost for the first time in seven starts, ahead 1-0 with a first-half goal, but the Samurai leveled the match on Yasuki Milsop’s header off a Justin Hill corner kick in the second period.
It was the finale of a six-match weekend series between Perry, Kadena and Nile C. Kinnick that featured two scoreless ties. The Samurai (16-5-3 overall) went 1-1-2, the Panthers 2-1-1 and the Red Devils (11-5-2) went 0-1-3.
It was the first in-season road trip for Kadena and for new volunteer coach Mike Callahan, and a showcase of two of the best strikers in the Pacific, both juniors: Kadena’s Yuji Callahan (10 goals, 4 assists), Mike’s son, and Perry’s Gaku Lange (32, 9), Mark’s son.
“We don’t deserve to be on the same pitch” with Kadena, the elder Lange said. “But they let us hang around and we did what we had to do. Mike’s a classy guy, Yuji’s an excellent player, he and Gaku became friends.”
“It’s been wonderful,” the elder Callahan said of the trip. “Mark’s got a quality program, they’re well organized and they play well. He’s a great host. It was a pleasure to come up here. We have to try to get him to come to Okinawa next year.”
On the girls side, Kaile Johnson ran her Pacific-leading goal-scoring total to 26 with two goals as Kinnick beat Perry 3-1.
On the diamond at Misawa Air Base, Yokota sophomore Leo Austin enjoyed a homecoming of sorts, pitching three-hit ball and striking out 12 as the Panthers beat Robert D. Edgren, Austin’s old team, 7-1. Edgren won the nightcap 9-8.
Austin was the Most Valuable Player of last year’s Far East Division II tournament and helped lead the Eagles to their first D-II title banner.
The right-hander declined an interview request, but his old coach Brett Lehner had much to say about his former pupil.
“He pitched great against us earlier this year at the DODDS (Japan) Tournament and it was fun watching the interaction of him pitching against a few of his former teammates,” Lehner said. “No matter where he is playing, he will be an impact player.”