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NEWS | Sept. 5, 2014

Warhawks make progress despite Defender Cup shortcomings

By Jose T. Garza III JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs

The good news for the Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Warhawks varsity soccer team: They advanced past the first round of the Defender Cup Military Varsity Tournament. The bad news: They were unable to capitalize on their momentum in the second round.

After defeating the team from Fort Sill, Okla., 2-1, the Warhawks suffered a 4-0 defeat to Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas Aug. 31 at the tournament held at the South Texas Area Regional Soccer Complex.

For a team who began practices in June with the goal of making it far in the tourney after two consecutive first round exits, the result was extremely disappointing.

"We worked hard all summer," said left wing Senior Airman Kevin Figueroa, an 802nd Security Forces Squadron corrections specialist. "We definitely played well as a team, but we had some guys go down to injury. It's disappointing that we gave it all we had and couldn't get the win."

The Warhawks showed grit and determination despite the losing effort. They had several scoring opportunities in the first half that were deflected by Laughtlin goalkeeper Matthew Underwood.

All four of Laughlin's points came in the second half. Center Jon Gwei contributed two of the four goals, including one on a free kick. Forwards Garrett Getsehow and Alex Zuniga chipped in one goal each.

Figueroa credited Laughlin's defense for putting a lot of pressure on the Warhawks' offense.

"We didn't have the opportunity to spread the ball to the sides and we couldn't build from the back the way we would have liked to," he said.

Even though the Warhawks came up short again in the Defender Cup, the team's progress from last year to this year is "night and day," according to Figueroa.

"We definitely showed that we can play with the best," Figueroa said. "To see the guys from day one at practice to now, it is just night and day.

"Our practices were intense because they took place in the middle of the summer when it's more than 100 degrees outside. We were running and going hard for two hours. The intense training prepared us because none of our guys showed signs of fatigue."

Coach Spencer Spriesterbach was pleased with the Warhawks efforts in the tournament and credited them for being in shape throughout the year.

"We had several opportunities to score, but we were just a hair short," said Spriesterbach. "I can't get upset about that. I thank the guys here for the effort they put in."