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CAMP ZAMA, Japan — Rarely has the Yokota girls soccer team found itself on the losing end; the Panthers have 11 victories in 13 matches, the best mark in school history.

On Friday, though, it took a penalty kick by Lauryn Thomas with eight minutes left for Yokota to salvage a 2-2 tie with Zama and prevent the Panthers’ first loss of the season.

“My girls aren’t used to adversity, playing a goal down,” coach Matt Whipple said.

The match came a day after Yokota was supposed to play at American School In Japan (4-1), which is currently second to Yokota in the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools. Only one referee showed by gametime and the coaches agreed to play a scrimmage. Yokota won 5-4.

Whipple said he’d been “concerned” that his players might be "emotionally spent” after that scrimmage against one of their chief rivals.

After Zama went ahead on a second-half goal by freshman Whitney McWherter, the Yokota players’ “heads dropped a little, they grumped at each other, but the team captains got them together and they pulled it out,” Whipple said.

“Today, we just had trouble finishing,” Whipple said.

Zama, which also got a goal from freshman Aubrey Ashliman, her 39th of the season, led almost the entire game. Thomas tied it after referee Mark Stoessel whistled Zama for a shoving foul in the area.

Coach Vanessa Little argued that it wasn’t much of a push.

“It’s frustrating,” Little said. “It’s a tough one to swallow.”

Abel, Ashliman jousting for Pacific bragging rightsFar to the south on Okinawa, Kadena’s season goal-scoring record holder, senior Jen Abel, says she’s kept an eye on Ashliman, the freshman who transferred to Zama along with McWherter from Virginia.

Ashliman has trailed Abel, who has 49 goals this season and notched a record 70 last season, by as many as 10 goals this year.

“I’m not really worried about people making high numbers,” Abel said. “It’s just another player.”

She said she looks forward to watching Ashliman play during the Far East Class AA tournament May 21-25 at Yokota.

Ashliman hadn’t even been aware of Abel, Little said, until she told her freshman star of Abel’s totals a couple of weeks ago.

“The most important number is what’s on the scoreboard,” Abel said.

Kadena turning tables on Kubasaki in baseball, softballCAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — After losing the first two games of the Okinawa Activities Council regular season to Kubasaki, the Kadena baseball team has stormed back to tie the series.

The latest victory came in the closest game the teams have played yet. Mike Mizell's bases-loaded RBI single to deep center in the seventh broke a 3-3 tie and boosted the Panthers past the Dragons 5-4.

Kubasaki won the first two meetings 16-6 and 10-0 and Kadena the third 12-3.

“It ended up with the ball rolling on our side,” first-year Kadena coach Tom Yost said. “It’s good for the guys to get a close win like that.”

Yost said he and a new staff of assistants needed time to implement some of the changes they wanted. With only 10 practices heading into the season and with a smattering of games rained out, it has taken more time than they had hoped.

“As the year’s gone on, it’s gotten better,” Yost said.

One change that helped Kadena’s girls softball team break a three-game skid against Kubasaki with a 4-2 victory Friday was acquiring a pitching machine, coach Ken Hudson said.

“Now, we’re able to practice batting at the velocity” pitched by Kubasaki senior right-hander Chloe Freeman, who took her first loss of the season against Kadena. The Panthers had won 32 games over three seasons against Kubasaki before the Dragons broke through on March 10.

Brooke Hudson snapped a 2-2 tie with a two-run single in the seventh and right-hander Shelby Prutch tossed a complete-game victory, scattering six hits and three walks.

“She did an outstanding job of pitching,” Hudson said.

Kadena and Kubasaki play for all the district marbles May 18-19 in the best-of-three OAC championship series.

Shible shining in return from injury for Kubasaki boysCAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Coach Chris Kelly had been counting on sophomore Mitch Shible to be an important piece of the Kubasaki boys soccer team’s front line this season. But a broken collarbone suffered in the first 95 seconds of the Dragons’ opening OAC match with Kadena halted that plan.

Shible scored the only goal for the Dragons in their 1-1 tie Friday with FC Tida, a Japanese club team. Since returning two weeks ago, Shible has scored three times for the Dragons, who have won once and tied twice to improve their record to 7-3-7.

Kelly says Shible is “definitely in that number” of a group of four sophomores he hopes will step up during the Far East Class AA tournament May 21-25 at Kadena High School.

“His speed can really stretch a defense,” Kelly said. “He’s definitely one of our quicker forwards. He brings an element to the table. He can play vertically and mix it up in the box.”

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