DODEA-Japan crowns its best in four sports

Yokota’s Samantha Kozinski kicks the ball away from Kubasaki’s Reighlyn Kissick during Saturday’s All-DODEA-Japan Women’s Soccer Tournament Final. The Dragons won 4-1. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

CAMP ZAMA, Japan — She’s only 5-foot-2, but Erica Samluk was one of the few tiny players to stand up to Kubasaki’s women’s soccer team in this weekend’s All-DODEA-Japan tournament. end.

The sophomore was pressured to become a goaltender when starter Annabelle Alvarado left in the opening minutes of Saturday’s semifinals with a head injury.

Samluk responded by helping the Dragons to a 5-2 semi-final overtime win over Nile C. Kinnick and then a 4-1 win over Yokota in the championship game.

“A little. Not really,” Samluk said when asked if she was nervous about her mission, adding that she kept telling herself that it was no different from the matches that the Dragons regularly play in Okinawa against Kadena. “I just needed to feel like it was.”

The Dragons were one of three Okinawa-based teams to win championships in weekend football, baseball and softball tournaments held at three different bases in Japan.

Kadena needed to win the final two games to win the softball tournament title and accomplished that mission, beating Kubasaki 17-7 and 13-6. The Dragons baseball team needed just one victory in the Finals and got it, 9-3 against Kadena.

The only tournament title that went to a non-Okinawa team was Men’s Soccer, which Nile C. Kinnick won by shutting out Kubasaki 3–0.

Kubasaki girls' soccer coach Chris Eastman gets a shower of victory from his players after Saturday's 4-1 win over Yokota in the All-DODEA-Japan Tournament Final.

Kubasaki girls’ soccer coach Chris Eastman gets a shower of victory from his players after Saturday’s 4-1 win over Yokota in the All-DODEA-Japan Tournament Final. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

soccer girls

Coach Chris Eastman credited the efforts of Samluk and Alvarado and the Dragons’ defense with helping win the title.

“The back line was fantastic, not to give too many opportunities for ‘other teams to score’, and when those came up she (Samluk) was there. And Annabelle was there before her. We wouldn’t have couldn’t do it without them,” Eastman said.

Rookie Solares Solano scored the first of his two goals after 26 minutes on a pass from Becca Chandler. The 1-0 lead lasted the entire first half.

Senior Viola Wray, another small Dragons player at 5-3, shot Yokota keeper Devyn Martin on a pass from 5-1 freshman midfielder Syra Soto to make it 2-0 at the 40th minute. An own goal a few minutes later gave the Dragons a 3-0 lead.

The Panthers regained the upper hand on a goal by Kaci McBrayer from a corner kick by Keiya Carlson. But a few seconds later, Solano slammed the door with a goal on a cross pass from Amélie Rodriguez.

soccer boys

Kinnick also shone defensively, allowing just one goal in six matches (a penalty from Yokota’s Owen Taylor) to edge their opponents 46-1.

Senior Kou Nishiyama scored twice for the Red Devils, his 19th and 20th of the season, and Yuta Raqueno netted his 13th for Kinnick, who improved to 20-0-1 on the season. They haven’t lost since the DODEA-Japan 2019 tournament final.

“Our defenders, our goalkeeper, our forwards, our midfielders, they contribute every day,” said Red Devils coach Tim Rippeth. “They come to work and put it on the pitch every day. They work hard and they love each other.”

Off the bat in the first five minutes of Saturday’s final, Kubasaki sweeper Peyton Passage was shown a red card and the Dragons had to take out a man for the rest of the game. Still, the Dragons stayed within a goal until the final five minutes of the game.

“It’s tough to outsmart a man for 70 minutes,” Dragons coach Tony Washington said. “But we have a young team and we will come back.”

Kubasaki Dragons baseball players form a pile of dogs on the mound after their 9-3 victory Saturday in the All-DODEA-Japan Tournament Final against Kadena.

Kubasaki Dragons baseball players form a pile of dogs on the mound after their 9-3 victory Saturday in the All-DODEA-Japan Tournament Final against Kadena. (James Kimber/Stripes Special)

Baseball

Nick Adams went the distance for the Dragons, scattering seven hits without stepping on anyone and pulling out two Panthers. John Hall and Jeff Owens drove in two runs apiece and combined for three stolen bases for the Dragons, who took a 4-0 lead in the first inning and were never headed.

“It’s really special,” Dragons first-year coach Nicholas Welch said of the championship. “These guys have worked very hard all season. Everyone has contributed.

Jeremiah Sprague took the loss for Kadena, allowing five earned runs and nine hits with three wild pitches and three slapped batters. Kai Olszewski and Wyatt Boerigter each went 2 for 3 and Austin Gagnon 2 for 2 for the Panthers.

Kadena's softball team celebrates their title in the All-DODEA-Japan Tournament.  The Panthers beat Kubasaki in two final games 17-7 and 13-6 to win the championship.

Kadena’s softball team celebrates their title in the All-DODEA-Japan Tournament. The Panthers beat Kubasaki in two final games 17-7 and 13-6 to win the championship. (James Kimber/Stripes Special)

Soft ball

Faced with having to win four games in one day to reach the top of the title, the Panthers have done just that, including winning the last three games in a row.

Freshman right-hander Julia Petruff was hit for 27 hits in the two games but picked up the wins and helped herself by going 5-for-9 with one home run, four RBIs and four stolen bases. Morgan Sayers went 5 for 7 with two triples and two doubles and five RBIs in both games.

“We just hung out with Julia, and Morgan slapped the ball hard, all those doubles and triples. She was on fire at home plate,” Panthers first-year coach David Weiland said.

Kadena used a 10-run sixth inning to put away Game 1 and a nine-run third in Game 2. Landry Murray suffered the loss in the first final and Taryn Lockhart in the second.

Former Stars and Stripes reporter James Kimber contributed to this report.