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To their coaches, Van Hauter and Dianne Abel were valuable to their teams for much more than their soccer talent.

They served as “coaches on the field,” said Osan American Cougars boys coach Tony Alvarado and Kadena Panthers girls coach Hoa Nguyen. They were foundation-type players who took on leadership roles and led their teams to Far East tournament titles.

Hauter, a senior midfielder, and Abel, a junior midfielder-striker, were chosen as Stars and Stripes’ Pacific high school spring Athletes of the Quarter.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have her on the team,” Nguyen said of Abel, who led the Panthers to two straight Far East Girls Class AA Tournament crowns. Kadena is 40-1-1 the past two seasons.

Abel scored 66 goals, shattering by 17 the Pacific season record. She also led the region for the second straight year in assists, with 27. Her 28 goals during Far East broke the record of 26 that Kadena’s Loraine Callos set in 1998. Abel will enter her senior season with 112 goals and 51 assists.

Abel also was the centerpiece on a team that fielded just four returning starters and 11 new players, four of them freshmen.

Most importantly, Nguyen said, Abel demonstrated to her teammates that “you can always get better. There’s no limit to learning and sharpening skills. She shares her moves, how to play offense, how to pick out the strengths and weaknesses of opponents. She’s willing to learn new skills and share them with younger players. She’s always willing to learn. She filled the role [of coach on the field] very well, on the field and in the classroom.”

Her team winning the Class AA crown enabled Abel to edge Erin Foote (57 goals) of Kubasaki and Brieanna Carroll (47 goals) of Pusan American for girls Athlete of the Quarter honors.

Hauter’s numbers were less gaudy. But his contributions, Alvarado said, also stretched well past his 20 goals and 11 assists.

“Van was almost the rock that you build your house on, definitely the foundation,” said the coach, calling Hauter the “unspoken captain” on a team that didn’t select one to start the season.

Besides helping his teammates “understand their roles, positions and responsibilities,” Alvarado said, Hauter was key in the Cougars moving beyond a pedestrian 5-10 regular season to gear up for Osan’s first Far East Class A Tournament title run.

Leading up to Far East in Taegu, the team practiced before and after school, working on weights and conditioning in the mornings and skills in the afternoons. At the tournament, Hauter gathered the team for mandatory meetings each night and breakfasts in the morning.

“He took the lead on that,” Alvarado said.

But Hauter also helped lead the Cougars to a 3-2 double-overtime victory over two-time defending champion Taejon Christian International in the championship. It was Osan’s first title in three trips to the final.

Alvarado said Hauter kept telling his teammates, “‘It’s never been done at Osan. This would be our chance to shine.’ And they did.”

The other Stars and Stripes spring quarter awards:

Coach of the quarter: Nguyen faced replacing graduated goalkeeper Theresa Gittens, sweeper Kim Lyle and left wing Katie LaGrave but did quite well, with Abel and her younger sister Jennifer (29 goals, 25 assists; 14 and 11 in Far East).

Team of the quarter: Who else but the squad that ended Okinawa’s domination of Class AA soccer? Christian Academy In Japan, in its second finals appearance, edged the Panthers 2-1 in double-overtime on May 20 at Yokota Air Base, Japan. It was the first Class AA title, boys or girls, won by a non-Okinawa team.

Program of the quarter: Kadena made it two straight Class AA girls titles, finished second in the Boys Class AA tournament, and went unbeaten for a third straight year against island-rival Kubasaki in baseball and girls softball, while the boys track team won the Okinawa Activities Council district championship for the second straight year.

Most improved team: Aside from the Osan American boys’ drive to a Class A soccer title, Guam High’s boys, which never before had never won a Class AA playoff game, finished seventh with three medal-round victories.

Most-improved program: Osan American, which finished out of the running in last year’s Class A soccer tournaments, not only duplicated their finals appearances of 2002 and ’03, but took the final step in capturing both titles.

Soccer players of the quarter: What numbers the girls piled up! In addition to the Abels, who combined for 95 goals and 52 assists, Kubasaki’s Foote scored 57 goals to cap her Pacific career-record at 146, and Pusan’s Carroll ended her high school days with a Korea career-record 124. Boys totals paled in comparison but Class AA MVP Andrew Ladue of CAJ (27) and freshman Remco Rademaker of unbeaten Seoul Foreign (26) led the way.

Soccer teams of the quarter: CAJ’s boys and Kadena’s girls on the Class AA side, and Osan’s boys and girls on the Class A pitch. The big unanswered question: How well would Seoul Foreign, a member of the six-school Asia-Pacific Activities Conference, have done had the Crusaders played at Far East?

Baseball player of the quarter: Left-hander Mike Goodman of Seoul American is not just physically large (6-foot-5, 240 pounds) but his pitching game got very big as well: 6-1, with a 2-1 mark against Korean teams. He also batted .690 with four home runs and 26 RBIs. Speaking of left-handers, Will Badillo of Zama American went 6-3 with an ERA just over 2.00, and batted .500 with six home runs. And David McDermott of Nile C. Kinnick led the Japan League in home runs and stolen bases.

Baseball team of the quarter: Seoul American ran the table against its DODDS-Korea opposition, and won twice against Korean teams. Yokota overcame the loss of ace right-hander Shawn Novak and rallied behind righties Kenny Harris and Evan Gray to reach the finals of the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools Tournament. And Kadena remained unbeaten against Kubasaki on Okinawa for a third straight season.

Track athletes of the quarter/best newcomer: Freshman flash Charlotte Taylor of Yokota’s girls track and field program enjoyed an unbeaten Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools regular season in the 100 and 200 and was a lynchpin in the Panthers’ 400 and 1,600 relay teams. On the boys side, Marquis Newton of Kadena set a Japan record with a high jump of 6 feet, 5½ inches. Oft-injured Tony Price of Kubasaki managed to haul four golds from the Kanto Plain championship meet on May 14 at Yokota and posted the region’s top time in the 100, 11.6 seconds. Teammate Stephen Thompson set Kubasaki records for the high jump, which had stood since 1992, and in the 1,600 relay.

Track teams of the quarter: St. Mary’s International boys and the American School In Japan and Seisen International girls teams ruled the roost in Tokyo. Kadena’s boys repeated their Okinawa island title, while on the girls side, Zion Christian Academy, a private school with an entirely DOD enrollment, won its first island crown.

Softball players/team of the quarter: Freshman right-hander Kara Davis and senior batterymates Lindsay Davis and Alison Montes de Oca helped keep Kadena’s girls unbeaten against Kubasaki for a third straight season, this time playing fastpitch.

Games of the quarter: What a smorgasbord of Far East soccer championship match excitement on May 20. Four matches were decided by one goal. Three went to double-overtime. One was decided in a penalty-kick shootout (Kadena’s girls over Kubasaki 3-2).

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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.
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