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Oscar Fuentes of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing moves the ball against 3rd Force Service Support Group during Friday’s Marine Forces Pacific Regional Soccer Tournament championship.
Oscar Fuentes of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing moves the ball against 3rd Force Service Support Group during Friday’s Marine Forces Pacific Regional Soccer Tournament championship. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Coach Hector Reyes looked more relieved than joyful after his 1st Marine Aircraft Wing successfully defended its Marine Forces Pacific Regional Soccer Tournament title.

“They outplayed us. They won this match,” Reyes said of a 3rd Force Service Support Group team that relentlessly pressed the attack against Wing but could not score, while Wing’s Tony Winters and Luis Gomez each scored in a 2-0 triumph in Friday’s final. “They just couldn’t put the ball in the net. But they won this.”

Friday’s battle, between the teams many observers expected to reach the championship, was one of an abundance of missed opportunities on both sides. Both teams misfired on one penalty kick each, strikers on each side repeatedly sent wide-open chances over or to the sides of the nets and goalkeepers Mohammed Aziz of 3rd Force and J.L. Coleman of Wing came up with many sterling saves.

“Too many wasted opportunities,” 3rd Force coach Nicholas Peters said. “It could have been a lot different.”

From the opening kick, 3rd Force took the offensive, keeping Wing back on its heels. Wing had an early chance to go ahead but Aziz made a diving stop of Gomez’s penalty kick in the 17th minute after a foul in the goal area.

The momentum shifted somewhat late in the first half, as Wing carried the play. Aziz made two point-blank saves. Then Gomez got tripped in the area and Winters took advantage, tucking the ball into the left corner of the net for a penalty-kick goal in the 35th minute.

“I already knew I was going to go left,” Winters said, adding that he wasn’t worried that Gomez had missed his penalty kick earlier. “Things happen.”

The action went back and forth early in the second half. Mikey Garcia of 3rd Force missed a wide-open chance to the right in the 52nd minute, then 13 minutes later Aziz stopped Winters on a breakaway opportunity.

Third Force then lost its composure briefly as Jim Patino and Mario Pacheco each received a second yellow-card caution of the game. They were sent off for unsporting behavior and 3rd Force had to play two men short, 11 on nine, the rest of the way.

The runners-up missed another golden opportunity when 3rd Force was awarded a penalty kick in the 78th minute after a foul in the area, but Coleman dove to save Victor Aguayo’s attempt.

Eight minutes later, Gomez stole the ball at midfield, dribbled past the 3rd Force defense and chipped it over the diving Aziz for the insurance marker.

“That was for the PK I missed,” Gomez said. “That was for revenge.”

Marine Forces Pacific Regional Soccer Tournament

At Field 1, Foster Field Complex, Camp Foster, Okinawa

Thursday’s matches

Quarterfinals

3rd Marine Division/Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, 6, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, Okinawa, 2

U.S. Naval Hospital Camp Lester, Okinawa, 2, Iwakuni Air Station, Japan, 0

Semifinals

1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Okinawa, 7, Division 1

3rd Force Service Support Group, Okinawa, 3, Hospital 2

Friday’s match

Championship

Wing 2, 3rd Force 0

Awards

Most Valuable Player: Tony Winters, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

All-Tournament Coach: Oscar Fuentes, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

All-Tournament Team: Aloune Diop, Tony Winters, Luis Gomez, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing; Victor Pacheco, Mohammed Aziz, Franklyn Oguno, 3rd Force Service Support Group; Emmanuel Agbemble, Mitsuo Sato, 3rd Marine Division/Expeditionary Force; Shelo St. Pierre, Marine Corps Base Camp Butler; Ralph Wright, Iwakuni Air Station; Christopher Sauro, U.S. Naval Hospital Camp Lester.

Team Sportsmanship Award: U.S. Naval Hospital Camp Lester

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