Rota, Sigonella boys reach D-IV final
Stars and Stripes May 23, 2008
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Rota and Sigonella moved into Friday’s European Division IV championship game with victories in Thursday’s semifinals.
Top-seeded Rota, stunned 3-2 by Ankara in its opening game Wednesday, continued to right its ship with a 2-0 semifinal victory over Alconbury. Sigonella won a 3-0 shootout over Brussels to earn its berth.
Rota 2, Alconbury 0: "I was really pleased with our effort," Rota coach Tom Birch said. "We had much better ball movement than we did against Ankara."
All-Europe striker Alan Dowden and teammate Kevin Mallen scored goals four minutes apart early in the second half.
With Alconbury goalkeeper David Blose and Dowden chasing a loose ball in the box, Dowden won possession. He pirouetted around the fallen keeper and lined a shot inside the far post.
Minutes later, Mallen took advantage of some poor clearing to take possession at point-blank range and put the ball into the upper right corner. His goal was just what Birch was looking for.
"With Dowden, a senior and All-European, we tend to try to get the ball to him too much," Birch said. "If we don’t get the other kids involved, it ends up like Ankara."
Sigonella 3, Brussels 0 (SO): Jaguars goalkeeper Conor Quinn waited until more than 100 minutes of scoreless play had elapsed to take charge of things.
Quinn, defending first, saved two Brussels penalty-kick tries and converted the decisive third one himself.
"I just pray, and then just wait for them to kick it," Quinn said of his strategy for defending in a shootout.
Stewart Roberts put Sigonella ahead to stay when he followed Quinn’s first shootout save with a rocket into the lower left corner of the net. The next Brussels shooter pushed his try wide right, and Quinn stopped the Brigands’ third try before the game-winner.
"We’ll talk about tomorrow’s game a little," said Quinn of how the Jags would prepare for Rota, "but right now I just want to try to get my breath and my voice back. I’m really tired."
In another game Thursday:
Hanau girls 2, Lajes 0: The Lady Panthers, the reigning D-III champions, rolled past Lajes to qualify for the D-IV title game Friday. It will be the final athletic contest for the school, which closes after this school year. It will play two-time champion Brussels, which downed Sigonella 3-0 in their semifinal.