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NEWS | Oct. 17, 2008

Defender Cup history repeats itself

By Patrick Desmond 37th Training Wing Public Affairs

The Eglin Air Force Base soccer team was the last team standing out of 20 competing through four days of the 2008 All-Air Force Defender Cup, beating Lackland's Warhawks in the tournament championship for the second straight year, Oct. 13 at the Warhawk Field.

Eglin scored 30 goals in six games during the tournament, three of which came in their victory over the Warhawks, 3-1, in the final.

"Teamwork. These guys wanted it; they worked hard at it, and they deserved to come to the finals. Lackland was the only one to put one in our net so we had a very solid defense. It was a team [effort]. Now, we will have fun, enjoy ourselves then come back next year."

Lackland gave up two of the three goals in their final's loss off penalty kicks.

"If we had a little more opportunity to train together, we would have probably never had those penalty shots against us. The players all realize that [the Defender Cup] is a tournament of attrition. We were 18 deep and they were 18 deep and they were probably a little more fit than us," Warhawk coach Spencer Spriesterbach said.

Tied after 47 minutes of play, 1-1, Eglin was able to pull ahead scoring goals off Robert Wible's penalty kick and Scoot Kirkpatrik's outside shot that sealed the victory.

The Warhawks scored the only goal against Eglin in the tournament when team captain Johnny Cardenas centered a corner kick to the head of Sam Alodaidi, hitting it past the tournament's defensive player winner Eglin goalkeeper Davide O'Neill, in the 47' minute tying the game.

Eglin scored the only goal in the first half in the 12th minute when Ryan Curtis shot a rebound off an Eglin penalty kick for an early 1-0 lead.

During the single elimination tournament, the Warhawks doubled their group play goal total, scoring 12 goals leading up to the championship with six coming in their semifinal win against Randolph AFB, 6-3.

"We came together as a unit, we used our Sunday league to build some chemistry. We are blessed to have 18 strong, committed guys and we played well. We were down a couple of times and we came back in a couple of games, and we didn't quit out here either, " Spriesterbach said.

The Defender Cup also awarded co-third place to Randolph and Davis-Monthan AFB.
"It's awesome when every year you get to come play against the best the Air Force has to offer," Travis coach Jaime Cortes said.

Along with awarding the best defensive player of the tournament to Eglin goalie Davide O'Neill, Travis AFB's Brendan Victory won the golden boot trophy for the most goals, scoring 12 goals in five games despite suffering an injury in the quarterfinal game against Davis-Monthan.

Following the Defender Cup's group play and single elimination tournament format, the Warhawks finished group play winning their first game against Kirtland AFB 2-1, then beating Hill AFB 4-1 before tying Inter-American Air Forces Academy 0-0.

After a first round bye, the Warhawks beat Dyess AFB 3-1 and then Keesler AFB 3-0 before entering into their semifinal game against Randolph.