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Kubasaki’s Ku’uleialoha Ampong heads the ball between Kadena’s Andrea Grade, left, and Asuka Yamashiro on Wednesday at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. Host Kadena edged Kubasaki 2-1 and clinched the season series 2-0-1. Kadena’s and Kubasaki’s boys and girls have combined to win 15 Class AA titles, but none since Kubasaki’s boys in 2008.
Kubasaki’s Ku’uleialoha Ampong heads the ball between Kadena’s Andrea Grade, left, and Asuka Yamashiro on Wednesday at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. Host Kadena edged Kubasaki 2-1 and clinched the season series 2-0-1. Kadena’s and Kubasaki’s boys and girls have combined to win 15 Class AA titles, but none since Kubasaki’s boys in 2008. (Dave Ornauer/S&S)

Sailing along this season to the tune of 21-6-2, the best regular-season record in school history, Matthew C. Perry boys soccer coach Mark Lange says he spends much time reminding his charges that it wasn’t so long ago that things weren’t quite as good.

"We’re not that far removed from it. We’ve been on the other side of it," said Lange, whose Samurai went 11-19-4 in 2009.

Thus, Lange says his team enters this week’s Far East Class A tournament on its home turf at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni cautiously optimistic about its chances.

"We’ve never finished very high before," he said. "You always run into something. There’s nothing guaranteed."

He cited the 2007 E.J. King Cobras, who won the title thanks to the stellar play of goalkeeper Demond Dean. "You have to have players who step up at the right time," Lange said.

The Samurai host six other teams in the Class A tournament which runs Monday-Thursday. The Class A girls tournament runs concurrently at Kelly Field on Daegu’s Camp Walker in South Korea. The boys and girls Class AA tournaments are slated for Monday-Friday, boys at Seoul American and girls at Kubasaki on Okinawa.

"We’re going to go game-by-game," Lange said. "This is the first time we’re feeling a little pressure. We’ll play, we’ll be competitive, and we’ll have a good time doing it."

Defending Girls Class A champion Osan American began the season hot, at 9-0-3, but slumped toward the end, losing three of five matches, two by penalty-kick shootout in the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Division I Tournament. It’s one reason why Cougars coach Sung Plourde has been working on shootouts in practice lately.

"Five teams very evenly matched; it may come down to shootouts," he said. "Shootouts is where we don’t do well. We go into every tournament thinking we can win. We have the capability, but you never know."

Last year was the first in which non-DODEA Okinawa teams swept the Class AA titles; this year may see the first all non-DODEA finals.

Defending boys champion Christian Academy Japan could well meet Hong Kong International again; CAJ edged Hong Kong 1-0 last May 22. Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools girls champion American School In Japan (9-0) could end up battling Faith Academy (15-0-2); the two teams combined to allow just seven goals in 26 matches this season.

Shutting down Lauren Cleope and Kelly and Liz Hardeman "will be the challenge" when facing Faith, Kadena assistant coach Alex Karibian said. "ASIJ will have a good mix. They’ll be very competitive."

So, too, will Okinawa, which has combined to win 15 Class AA titles, but none since Kubasaki’s boys in 2008.

While it could be two all-international finals, "Kadena and Kubasaki will probably have something to say about it before we get done with it," Kadena boys coach Tom McKinney said. "History is on our side. We both have shown we can perform when the time comes."

Schedule

Boys Class AADates-May 17-21. Host-Seoul American High School, South Post, Yongsan Garrison, South Korea.Sites-Sims Field, Seoul American High School, and Chosun Field, South Post, Yongsan Garrison, South Korea.Participating teams-Group A, Faith Academy Vanguards, Manila, Philippines; Kubasaki Dragons, Camp Foster, Okinawa; Yokota Panthers, Yokota Air Base, Japan; Zama American Trojans, Camp Zama, Japan; Hong Kong International Dragons. Group B, Nile C. Kinnick Red Devils, Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan; Guam High Panthers, Agana Heights, Guam; Christian Academy Japan Knights (defending champions); Seoul American Falcons, South Post, Yongsan Garrison, South Korea; Kadena Panthers, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa.Returning All-Far East players-Ethan Hallberg, Hong Kong International; Stanley Schrock (three-time selection), Aaron Ahner, Kadena.Format-Single round-robin, two pools of five teams each, teams play two matches per day, first two days. Wins worth three points, ties worth one point, goals worth one each up to a maximum of three per team per match, shutout worth one point. Loss worth no points regardless of goals scored. Tiebreaker procedure for seeding purposes: 1) Head-to-head play, 2) goal differential among teams involved in tie up to three goals per match, 3) goals against among teams involved in tie, 4) coin toss. All teams qualify for single-elimination tournament with consolation bracket last three days. All matches 40-minute halves with 10-minute halftime. Overtime involves two 10-minute periods, no "golden goal," followed by two five-minute sudden-death "golden goal" periods and penalty-kick shootout, if necessary. Mercy rule applies to all matches; match will end if one team takes eight-goal lead, regardless of time left.Schedule-Opening ceremony 8:45 a.m. Monday at Falcon Field, at which it will be dedicated and renamed Sims Field in honor of 1990 Seoul American graduate killed in the 2004 Iraqi campaign for Fallujah. First round-robin matches 9 a.m. Monday. Last round-robin matches 5 p.m. Tuesday. First playoff match at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Championship match at 5 p.m. Friday at Falcon Field, followed by awards ceremony.Awards-MVP, Golden Boot, best goalkeeper and 15-player All-Tournament team.

Boys Class ADates-May 17-20.Host-Matthew C. Perry High School, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.Site-Penny Lake Fields 1 and 2 and Samurai Field, Matthew C. Perry High School, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.Participating teams-E.J. King Cobras, Sasebo Naval Base, Japan; Robert D. Edgren Eagles, Misawa Air Base, Japan; Osan American Cougars, Osan Air Base, South Korea; Matthew C. Perry Samurai, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan; Daegu American Warriors, Camp George, South Korea; Global Vision Christian White Tigers, South Korea; Morrison Christian Academy Mustangs, Taichung, Taiwan.Returning All-Far East player-Sung Jyun Kim, Global Visions Christian.Format-Single round-robin, seven teams in one pool, 25-minute halves, 5-minute intermission. Wins worth three points, ties worth one point, losses worth no points, goals worth one point each up to a maximum of three per team per match. Tiebreaker procedures: 1) Head-to-head competition; 2) Total goal differential with maximum of three goals per team per match; 3) Goals allowed. All teams qualify for single-elimination playoffs, 40-minute halves, 10-minute intermission, followed by two five-minute overtimes, no "golden goal," followed by two-minute break and penalty-kick shootout if necessary. Mercy rule applies; matches end when a team leads by eight goals, regardless of time left.Schedule-Opening match, Matthew C. Perry vs. E.J. King at 4 p.m. Sunday. Coaches’ meeting 8 a.m. Monday at Ironworks Fitness & Sports Center. First pool-play matches at 9 a.m. Monday. Last pool-play matches at 4 p.m. Tuesday. First double-elimination playoff matches at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Championship match at 2 p.m. Thursday. All-Star game at 5 p.m., followed by awards ceremony.Awards-Offensive and defensive MVPs, outstanding goalkeeper, 14-player All-Tournament team.

Girls Class AADates-May 17-21.Host-Kubasaki High School, Camp Foster, OkinawaSites-Mike Petty Stadium and Upper Field, Kubasaki High School, Camp Foster, Okinawa.Participating teams-Group A, Kubasaki Dragons, Camp Foster, Okinawa; Zama American Trojans, Camp Zama, Japan (defending champion); Hong Kong International Dragons; American School In Japan Mustangs; Seoul American Falcons, South Post, Yongsan Garrison, South Korea; John F. Kennedy Islanders, Upper Tumon, Guam. Group B, Kadena Panthers, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa; Faith Academy Vanguards, Manila, Philippines; Christian Academy In Japan Knights, Tokyo; Yokota Panthers, Yokota Air Base, Japan; Nile C. Kinnick Red Devils, Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan; Guam High Panthers, Agana Heights, Guam; .Returning All-Far East players-Kristen Dulay, Eris Pitts, Taylor Russell, Zama American; Lauren Cleope, Faith Academy (Class A in 2008, Class AA in 2009); Ku’uleialoha Ampong, Kubasaki; Roxanne Clement, American School In Japan; Mary Niemeyer, Nile C. Kinnick; Megan Speck, Guam High; Heather Hyson (Class A with Matthew C. Perry), Kubasaki; Jasmine Pressley (two-time Class A selection with Osan American), Bria Pressley (Class A selection with Osan American), Kadena.Format-Single round-robin, two pools of six teams each, first two days, 25-minute halves, five-minute halftime. Wins worth six points, ties worth three points and losses worth no points, goals worth one point up to a maximum of three per team per match. Losses worth no points no matter how many goals scored. Tiebreaker procedure for seeding purposes: 1) Head-to-head play, 2) fewest goals allowed, 3) goals scored (up to four per match), 4) goal differential, 5) least number of cautions/ejections, yellow cards worth one point, red cards worth three, 6) coin toss. Single-elimination tournament with consolation bracket last three days, 40-minute halves with 10-minute halftime. Overtime involves two 10-minute periods, no "golden goal," followed by two five-minute sudden-death "golden goal" periods and penalty-kick shootout, if necessary. Mercy rule applies to all matches; match will end if one team takes eight-goal lead, regardless of time left.Schedule-Opening ceremony at 7:45 a.m. Monday at Kubasaki High School. First round-robin matches 9 a.m. Monday. Last round-robin matches 4:30 Tuesday. First playoff matches 9 a.m. Wednesday. Championship match 3 p.m. Friday, followed by awards ceremony.Awards-Most Outstanding Player, Golden Boot and Outstanding Goalkeeper, 15-player All-Tournament team.

Girls Class ADates-May 17-20.Host-Daegu American School, Camp George, South Korea.Site-Kelly Field, Camp Walker, South Korea.Participating teams-Osan American Cougars (defending champions), Osan Air Base, South Korea; Morrison Christian Academy Mustangs, Taichung, Taiwan; Robert D. Edgren Eagles, Misawa Air Base, Japan; Daegu American Warriors, Camp George, South Korea; Matthew C. Perry Samurai, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.Returning All-Star players-Kate Cutshall, Matthew C. Perry; Angela Frisby, Osan American; Angie Robinet, Daegu American; Siara Stacy, Morrison Christian Academy; Ashley Hawkins, Robert D. Edgren; Kristina Bergman, Daegu American.Format-Single round-robin, one pool of five teams, 40-minute halves with 10-minute intermission, no overtime or penalty-kick shootouts. Wins worth three points, ties worth one point, losses worth no points. Mercy rule applies; matches end when a team leads by eight goals, regardless of time left. All teams qualify for double-elimination playoffs with modified consolation, 40-minute halves with 10-minute halftime; two five-minute sudden-death "golden goal" overtimes and penalty-kick shootout follow in case of a tie after regulation time.Schedule-Pool-play matches begin Monday at 9 a.m.; last pool-play match ends at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Double-elimination playoffs start at 9 a.m. Wednesday. Championship match at 1:30 p.m. Thursday with second "if necessary" match at 4 p.m. Closing ceremony at 6 or 7 p.m. All-Star game at 4 or 5:30 p.m.Awards-MVP, outstanding goalkeeper, defensive and offensive player, 15 All-Tournament selections, three players from each team selected for All-Star game.

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