Thanks to transfers, the rich have gotten richer. As a result, Osan American’s soccer teams hope a Far East Class A tournament sweep is within their reach.

The boys already had nine starters returning from last year’s Class A runners-up, including midfielder Carlos Albaladejo. They added senior striker Thomas Chung and his 22 goals last season; he transferred to Osan from Zama American in Japan.

The Cougars girls bring back plenty of firepower in juniors Sasha Gluzinski (18 goals) and Gina Bosworth (12 goals). Bolstering the defense are former Seoul American sophomore Starlet Davis, last year’s Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference tournament’s Best Defender, and senior Kristina Sagstetter from Pusan American.

“I’m excited,” Osan boys coach Tony Alvarado said. “It looks really good.”

“That’s the team to beat,” Taegu American coach Ed Thompson said of Osan’s girls.

Of all the transfers, Chung might have the greatest impact.

Albaladejo and fellow four-year starters Jay Carver (stopper) and Alex Lane (defense) always have worked well together, but have never enjoyed the luxury of such a consistent finisher as Chung, Alvarado said.

“This guy has a foot,” Alvarado said. “He’s got the finishing touch. We haven’t been able to put somebody like that up front.”

Chung’s former coach, Zama’s Ron Geist, was equally complimentary.

“I thought we would be very strong with him this year,” Geist said. “He’s hard to replace. We had new students move here who are also skilled, but we could have been stronger with him at forward. He’s a blue-chip player.”

Even without Chung, Osan would have had a solid senior base in Albaladejo, Carver, Lane and Brian Elkins, all of whom understand Alvarado’s expectations.

“We have people who know the drills, who know what I want and are fine-tuning and helping coach our younger players,” he said.

Taegu’s boys likewise benefit from transfers — all underclassmen: Phillip Cox and Paul Koo of Seoul American and Thomas Black, Duke Paulson and John Brunner of Pusan American. Cox “has some speed and good ball-handling ability,” coach Larry Knierim said.

Joining Taegu’s girls are two key underclassmen from Pusan, midfielder Kay Husler (7 goals) and stopper Linda Martinez. Even with those additions, Thompson and the Warriors are forging forward with one eye on the Cougars.

“Osan’s the key. We’re really gunning for them,” Thompson said of a Cougars team that eliminated Taegu from the KAIAC tournament and Class A tournament title chases last spring. “That’s our focus.”

Davis and Sagstetter join a Cougars defense loaded with returnees, including Kacee Corrigan, Vikki Featherstone and all-KAIAC junior Dawn Moore, who is out until at least midseason due to a knee injury from basketball.

Despite half the team being new, “we have a strong core of returners that are leading a new team of underclassmen,” coach Sung Plourde said. “Hopefully, we will be competitive by the end of the season and defend our Far East title.”

Transfers weren’t exclusive to Class A teams in Korea — Matthew C. Perry’s girls team in Japan got a huge boost from freshman Heather Hyson, a middle-school cross-country and youth soccer star on Okinawa.

The center midfielder-striker brings a strong shot and ball control, plus a “contagious work ethic that’s spreading throughout the team,” coach Chris Anderson said. “She is the missing link this Perry team has been hoping for, for several seasons.”

Perry will host the boys and girls Class A tournaments for the first time since 2003, meaning Osan’s boys must excel on the road to make it two titles in three years, as will the girls if they’re to three-peat.

“It will be tough, not being in Korea, our fans will be far away,” Alvarado said. “We’ll see what happens.”

author picture
Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now