With coaching in flux, Kubasaki still rolls to win
By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 28, 2014
Given the week it endured, Kubasaki’s girls soccer team could have been forgiven if it was driven to distraction.
The Dragons didn’t practice the first two days of the week after coach Rob Loyd resigned. Todd Hyson, the father of former Dragons star Heather Hyson, took over as interim coach of a team that was dealing with leg injuries to six players.
Then when they did take the field Friday against Okinawa Christian International, the Dragons lost goalkeeper Harleigh Lewis to a red card for serious foul play.
That put her eligibility for Wednesday’s rivalry match with Kadena in jeopardy.
So, were senior striker and captain Sydney Johnson and the rest of the Dragons surprised by Friday’s result, a 12-2 romp over the Crusaders?
“We have great chemistry, so I knew the girls wouldn’t get distracted,” Johnson said after scoring three times and assisting on three others. “We just kept telling them, we’ve got this, don’t worry about the coaches, that has nothing to do with us.”
It’s been that way for Kubasaki since it lost last year’s Far East Division I Tournament final 2-0 to American School In Japan, she said.
“We’ve been so focused, we look at any team as a strong competitor and just go out there and win. So this wasn’t a surprise to me. I know my team and my team is very focused right now and ready to win.”
Johnson’s goals gave her four for the season. Marissa Mesquita also netted a hat trick and added two assists and Ami Eldridge netted her third goal of the season for the 2-1 Dragons.
Now, Kubasaki can turn its attention to Kadena, which the team will likely face without Lewis. A player sent off via red card is ineligible for the team’s next match by rule.
“Obviously, that’s going to hurt us,” Johnson said. “But even without Harleigh, we still have to go in there strong, because it is our rival team and everybody is extremely excited.”
The good news came as the Dragons were exiting the field. Assistant principal Shawn Knudsen said that Terry Chumley, who coached the Dragons for 10 seasons until 2010, is returning to the Dragons bench – a decision that brought joy to the Dragons sideline.
“Her spirit,” Johnson said of Chumley. “She was always motivating, always helped us out. Good energy. She’s so good to be around. And she’s so smart.”
Elsewhere on the pitch, yellow cards were out in force at the Matthew C. Perry-Nile C. Kinnick boys match, a 3-0 Red Devils victory in which Ian Dignan scored twice. The Red Devils drew five cautions and the Samurai three.
That’s typical of a match between the leading Division I and II programs in DODDS Japan, Kinnick coach Robert Tiffany said, adding that their matches were even more physical prior to his taking over in 2009.
“We’ve been able to tamp it down,” Tiffany said. “(Samurai coach) Mark (Lange) has an excellent program. The guys get along well off the field, but they’re strong rivals on the field.”
The loss snapped a six-match winning streak for the Samurai.
Across the Kanto Plain at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Robert D. Edgren’s boys team equaled their win total for all of last season, getting four goals from Michael Roberts and three assists from Nick Cunniff in a 7-5 win over Zama’s junior varsity.
Yokota’s boys also got their first win, rallying from a 2-1 first-half deficit to edge E.J. King 3-2. Zach Esteron scored twice for the Panthers; Thomas McGrath had both Cobras goals.
On the Korea diamonds, Blake McDonald threw three innings of no-hit, six-strikeout ball and helped himself with three RBIs as Seoul American downed Osan 10-2 in a game shortened to four innings due to the time limit. Jared Kent and Chase McDonald also had three RBIs each for the Falcons.