3/2/2007 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- While most relaxed and enjoyed the Presidents' Day weekend, Hurlburt's varsity soccer team traveled to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, for the 6th Annual Defenders Cup Military Open Soccer Tournament.
The tournament, a three-day affair, guarantees each team three games and a knockout stage where each team has the chance to play up to four additional games. This is the fifth time the Commandos have made the trek to San Antonio to compete in the tournament.
The Commandos opened with a 2-0 win against Fort Sam Houston, one of four San Antonio teams to compete in the tournament. The Hurlburt team continued their winning ways with a 1-0 victory against MacDill AFB, Fla., setting up a showdown with Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., to determine who would finish at the top of Group B.
Hurlburt came out in their usual strong way, opening with a goal in the first 10 minutes. Seymour Johnson rallied, however, and leveled it just before half-time. The second half was back and forth until SJ scored what looked like the winner with just minutes remaining. However, the Commandos' never-say-die attitude showed when Richard Bonsra, 1st Special Operations Medical Support Squadron, scored the equalizer as time expired. The 2-2 tie secured Hurlburt a win for Group B on superior goal differential and locked in the number three seed for the knockout stage.
The knockout draw saw the Commandos face the number 14 seed Offutt AFB Sunday morning. Hurlburt had little trouble dispatching Offutt and cruising through to the quarterfinals with a 3-0 victory. The quarterfinal match-up pitted Hurlburt against Keesler AFB, Miss., who beat MacDill in their opening round game. Once again, the Commandos proved to be too much, advancing with a 4-1 win; the only Keesler goal came from a dubious penalty call. The win put Hurlburt in the semi-finals.
The semi-finals brought a rematch of their opening round game with Fort Sam Houston, the number 15 team. Hurlburt, along with Seymour Johnson and Fort Sam, were three of four teams from Group B to make the semi-finals. This time proved no different than the first as the Commandos manhandled the Fort Sam squad, 6-0, sending Hurlburt to the championship game.
The final game saw Hurlburt face a combination McChord AFB, Wash./Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., team, who had beaten Seymour Johnson AFB in the other semi-final. The game started at a very brisk pace with Hurlburt opening the scoring within the first 10 minutes, only to have McChord/DM answer minutes later.
The Commandos' missed several chances to score and went into halftime tied at 1. The second half began with McChord/DM scoring just after halftime. Hurlburt had several more chances blocked by the McChord goalkeeper, but got a break when McChord/DM had a player sent off for fouling Pete Miller, 1st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, on a break away chance. Several more missed scoring opportunities later and one play remaining in the game had Hurlburt desperate to tie the game up. On a corner kick, Bonsra crossed, and Danielle Bruno, 1st Special Operations Medical Operations Squadron, headed in the equalizer as time expired, sending the game to overtime.
The first overtime came up empty on both sides. Merely a minute after the start of the second extra session, McChord/DM scored on a corner kick. Despite a frenzy of scoring opportunities, the Commandos were unable to find another goal to send it to penalty kicks.
Rocky Zaccheus, 19th Special Operations Squadron, was named defensive player of the tournament. The Commandos were led in scoring by Bruno, Bonsra and Miller with four goals, and Zakary Fowkes, 373rd Training Squadron, Detachment 7, and Pat-rick Jones, 1st Special Operations Component Maintenance Squadron, with two.
The Commandos continue their season in the Destin soccer league, with matches every Sunday at the Destin sports complex.
For more information on joining the team, call Jeff Lazenby, at 881-2317.