by Robert Baldwin
Sometimes the whole season comes down to one moment they wish they could have back.
Ramstein’s men’s soccer team gave up a lone goal in the first few seconds of the second half and Naples made it hold up for a 1-0 victory and the 1A European soccer title for 2019. Naples did not have many opportunities to score because of a strong defense led by All European tournament selection Gabriel Delaney and solid goaltender Garrett Erickson. But good teams find their opportunities and Naples capitalized on one of the few, tapped it into the Ramstein net and tenaciously held on to bring home the trophy. Naples finished the season undefeated. The Royals came into the tournament at 6-1 and finished at 11-2.
Ramstein’s outstanding sophomore scorer Jaden Buelvas put pressure on the Naples goal at the seven minute mark when he snuck behind the defenders and got a good look. But the Naples goalie turned it aside to thwart the first real test. The only other threats were also off of Buelvas’ right foot as the Naples defenders kept the ball out of the middle and rarely allowed the Royals to get in behind them.
For Buelvas, one of the top players in the European league, it marked the last time he will wear a Royals uniform. Today is his last day in Germany because of a PCS. He will be continuing his education in the Chicago area.
Ramstein opened the tournament with a 1-0 victory over Vicenza at the Reichenbach Field. They followed that up later that day with a 3-2 victory over Wiesbaden, avenging their only season loss. Wiesbaden entered the tournament with its only loss to Naples. The Royals then beat Kaiserslautern 4-0 and Lakenheath 2-0 the following day and beat Shape 1-0 on the third day to advance.
Naples defeated Vilseck 6-1 and Stuttgart 2-0 the first day. It tied SHAPE 2-2 the second day and then put away Wiesbaden on the third day 2-1 for the right to play Ramstein. Wiesbaden beat SHAPE 5-0 in the third place game.
Kaiserslautern lost to Wiesbaden 4-1, Vicenza 1-0, to Naples 3-0 and to Ramstein. Buelvas and Raiders dynamo Giannes Dones were also named to the all tournament team.
The tournament was a good finale to a stellar season for the league. Naples was unbeaten, but Ramstein, Wiesbaden and SHAPE each had just one defeat. Wiesbaden beat Ramstein 2-1 during the year and Naples beat Wiesbaden 3-1. Ramstein smoked SHAPE 5-0. So the tournament was definitely up for grabs.
In 2A, unbeaten American Overseas School of Rome defeated Aviano 4-0. AFNorth defeated Florence 1-0 for third place.
In the 3A tournament, Ansbach edged Sigonella 2-1. Spangdahlem beat Brussels 3-2 for third place. Baumholder’s boys lost to Alconbury 3-2, to Spangdahlem 2-0, to Brussels on penalty kicks after a 0-0 regular time finish, and to SPA 6-4.
On the girl’s side, Wiesbaden and Naples cloned their 2-0 Wiesbaden victory during the season to win the 1A title. The Warriors went through the season undefeated, with two ties, by outscoring their opponents 50-4. Earlier in pool play, the teams tied 3-3 in a driving rainstorm on the grass at Reichenbach.
A goal by sophomore Jade Anderson at the seven minute mark from the right wing put Wiesbaden up 1-0. Teammate and Class 1A MVP Erin Goodman scored in the second period, her 35th goal of the season.
Wiesbaden goalkeeper Karli Wallace finished her high school sports career by making several key saves to preserve the shutout. Wallace’s stop at the 35-minute mark on a rocket off of the foot of Roxanne Sasse iced the game for the Warriors. Wallace will continue her academic career at the United States Air Force Academy where she will try out for the soccer team. She was also a top wrestler this past winter.
Stuttgart defeated Kaiserslautern 2-0 to take third place. Ramstein’s Haley Deome, who has also been accepted at the Air Force Academy, and Kaiserslautern’s Chloe Martin and Paola Zorilla were named to the all tournament team.
In Class 2A, MVP Bianca Liberti scored twice as Black Forest Academy shut down Marymount International 5-0. Aviano beat Rota 2-1 for third.
In the 3A final, it was Spangdahlem 4, Aviano 2. Brussels beat Sigonella 2-1 for third.