While soccer teams in Japan and Okinawa kick off their seasons next weekend, such was not the case in South Korea, where two DODDS schools hit the pitch last weekend with precious little preparation.
Four official days of practice with full squads, to be exact.
Still, things went well for the Osan American Cougars and Daegu American Warriors, whose boys and girls teams won a combined six of seven games to open the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference season.
“It was nice to get out of there with a win,” said Ed Thompson, whose defending Far East Girls Class A Tournament Warriors blanked Korea International 2-0 on Friday.
The Warriors took the pitch without center-midfielder Kay Husler, on a trip to Washington. Five of his players, including star freshman Kristina Bergman, played the Far East Class A Basketball Tournament Feb. 18-22 at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. Five others participated in last week’s KAIAC cheerleading competition.
“Trying to throw it together really quickly, teaching team concepts and strategy, that’s really difficult,” Thompson said.
Larry Knierim’s Warriors boys spent much of the four days honing good individual skills into “systems, tactics and ball control” leading up to the weekend. Daegu’s boys rallied past Korea International 3-2 before losing at Yongsan International-Seoul 2-1 on Saturday.
“They have good skills. It’s toughest to get those tactics into players on short notice,” said Knierim, who welcomed two players each from the Warriors’ basketball and wrestling teams. “Team tactics are the crux of what we want to work on.”
Sung Plourde said he didn’t have much difficulty welcoming eight players from basketball to his soccer team. Osan American’s girls routed Global Visions Christian 7-0 and Korea Kent Foreign 11-0.
“The players back from basketball are good soccer players,” he said of a group including senior Dawn Moore, junior Celine Baldevia and freshman Jasmine Pressley. “They know what to do on the field.”
Before official practices began Feb. 25, team captains would stage unofficial workouts on their own, stressing mainly conditioning.
“Our boys have been out there in the cold for about a month,” said Duke Allen, whose Cougars boys lost 4-3 to GVCS before routing Korea Kent Foreign 9-2. “The guys have been working.”