News: Close call as CE holds on to retain soccer championship
Story by Gary Rogers
The100th Civil Engineer Squadron held on to retain the Indoor Soccer Championship for a sixth time in a row by defeating 100th Force Support Squadron 8-6 in a thrilling game May 6, 2014, at the Northside Fitness Center on RAF Mildenhall, England.
Both teams kicked off missing important players, and on paper they looked evenly matched. This was the third time the teams had met over the last week. The Force Support Squadron had beaten the Civil Engineer Squadron earlier in the play-offs 10-7 after being 3-0 down; this meant CE who came out of the loser bracket, had to win to take the game to a championship decider. Which they did convincingly winning 13-1. Aaron Cooper, a carpenter from Barton Mills, England scored seven of their goals.
The championship game started slowly with CE dictating play with their usual passing game and on five minutes Geoff Gough, an electrician from Thetford, England was put through clear on goal and made no mistake in hitting the back off the net to give CE an early lead. A minute later Gough robbed Force Support Squadron's Bruce Richardson of the ball and again had no trouble finding the back of the goal to make it 2-0.
Ten minutes in and FSS reduced the deficit. Bruce Richardson, a graphic designer from East Harling, England made amends for his earlier mistake by sending his powerful shot wide of the CE keeper and into the back of the net.
Martin Parker an electrical charge hand from Newmarket, England restored CE's two goal advantage on 12 minutes when his shot found the bottom corner. A minute later Geoff Gough completed his hat-trick for a 4-1 lead.
At this time CE was taking complete control of the game Darren Odey, project manager from Thetford, England found himself on the score sheet after 21 minutes with a great individual goal to give CE a convincing 5-1 half-time lead.
Half-time 100th CES 5, 100th FSS 1
The second half began where CE left off, as Odey scored his second and CE's sixth goal with a long range shot which gave the keeper no chance. A minute later Martin Parker added his second to put CE 7-1 ahead.
With a large lead, CE began to sit deep and allowed FSS to come on to them.
There seemed no way back at this point for FSS, but they never gave up, and with the influential Kris Thomas now on the field they started to create some chances.
Stephen Bain, Chief, IT Cyber Systems, from East Harling, England pulled a goal back for FSS on 32 minutes from a tight angle. A minute later Darren Middleton, budget analyst from Thetford, England found himself in space and pulled another goal back for FSS to make it 7-3. Was this the start of an incredible comeback?
Thirty seven minutes in and Kris Thomas, who works at the BXtra on Mildenhall, scored again for FSS with a stunning long range shot which found the bottom corner to make the score 7-4. A minute later, Thomas set up Middleton to score his second to make the score 7-5. The comeback was on and remarkably three minutes later Richardson's shot found the far corner of the net to bring FSS to within one goal of leveling the game. This brought the loudest roar from the sidelines as the subs and supporters sensed this could be their time.
The CE team with no substitutes to bring on, were looking edgy and tired but Gough came to the rescue and at full stretch somehow managed to squeeze the ball under the body of Joseph Cunningham, civilian payroll technician from Phoenix, Arizona, goal six minutes from time. This is what champions are made of.
The last few minutes passed by without too much goal action; both teams had given it their all. The final whistle blew. CE had retained their championship, but only just. There were some very relieved looks on the faces of the CE players.
Full time score 100th CES 8, 100th FSS 6
Stephen Bain, FSS player, said he was proud of his team to push CE so close. CE's, Martin Parker who has experienced a few of these championship games, spoke afterwards, saying it just gets harder and harder.
But the final comments must come from the coach of the victorious CE team, Darren Odey, "it certainly doesn't get easier the older we get." "It was the most pleasing taking everything into consideration, especially when you consider we lost to FSS earlier and we managed to come back to beat them twice in the two finals. Having no subs and no Aaron Cooper did make the win that much more of an achievement and helped us enjoy the win more (once we got our breath back which was probably around four o'clock that afternoon!) When they got back to within one goal after being ahead by six, we began to wonder as they had come from behind to win earlier, and we'd lost all our momentum, but we managed to score one more goal with about six minutes left to keep our two-goal cushion and held firm after that."
He went on to say, "I'm not sure how long we can keep winning, I worked out the average age of the six of us and depressingly it was 40 years old! We'll need some new blood soon but we've got a few years left in us yet, after all Ryan Giggs, the Manchester United player, is still playing professionally at 40! Is there an over 40s masters league locally?"
Odey spoke about the overall standard and thought it was getting better. From what I see and hear, the American servicemen and women have more opportunities back in the U.S. to play soccer than in years gone by and they bring that experience and ability over here with them.