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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Nicholas Peters still can’t understand how 3rd Marine Logistics Group striker Michael Stephens was cut by the U.S. Naval Academy’s soccer team all four years he spent at Annapolis.

With five goals and four assists, coupled with four goals by Alex Briceno, Stephens helped propel 3rd MLG into Saturday’s championship match in the Marine Forces Pacific Regional Soccer Tournament. Stephens had a goal and an assist and Briceno two goals as 3rd MLG beat Iwakuni Air Station 5-0 in Friday’s semifinal.

“I see him (Stephens) playing and I wonder why,” Peters said. “He’s an awesome talent, a great positive attitude and full of energy.”

Stephens and Briceno continue a tradition of 3rd MLG carrying at least one high-scoring striker on its roster, the most recent being Thomas Rabern, who scored 12 goals in the 2004 tournament as 3rd MLG placed third.

“We’ve been blessed to have great players” the past few years, Peters said, adding that this year, “the difference is teamwork. They’ve inspired me to coach my best because they do their best. They play as a team and that’s been our success.”

Third MLG faced the tournament host, Marine Corps Base Camp S.D. Butler, in Saturday’s championship game. Base reached the final by outlasting 3rd Marine Division/Expeditionary Force 2-1 in a penalty-kick shootout in Thursday’s other semifinal.

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