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    MDNG Soldier Goes the Distance in All-Army Soccer

    MDNG Soldier Goes the Distance in All-Army Soccer

    Photo By Maj. Brendan Cassidy | U.S. Army Spc. Alexander "Jake" Tosta, an intelligence analyst with Headquarters &...... read more read more

    LAUREL, MARYLAND, UNITED STATES

    03.13.2024

    Story by Maj. Brendan Cassidy 

    58th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade

    LAUREL, Md. (March 1, 2024) – With the Armed Forces Soccer Tournament once again returning with the Spring, U.S. service members across the globe suit up to earn their place on their branch’s squad. A select few will have to contend not just with chain of command approval and the daunting travel just to try to get through this competitive process, but pause from their civilian careers. While fewer make the cut, the rigorous tournament is also open to reservists.

    One such citizen-soldier who is heading to Trial Camp in pursuit of tournament glory is U.S. Army Spc. Alexander "Jake" Tosta, 29, a military intelligence analyst with the Headquarters & Headquarters Detachment, 629th Military Intelligence Battalion in the Maryland Army National Guard. Playing soccer since age five with his father and brothers, this native of Miami, Fla. and Manchester United fan carries the sport of soccer as a seamless part of his identity.

    “Soccer is known as ‘the beautiful game’ because it can bring people together regardless of where they are from.” Indeed, Tosta recalled with fondness playing soccer with and against individuals from across the globe, their understanding and love of the sport making even verbal communication unnecessary. “We found a common means of communication through the shared language of passing a soccer ball.” said Tosta.

    Spc. Tosta’s athletic journey continued from youth and school sports through enlisting active duty in 2020. Alleging he wasn’t even pursuing soccer throughout the Army recruitment process, he remembers arriving at Ft. Bliss, Texas and, within a few weeks, it seemed the game had found him. He was soon excelling on the team for the base, playing alongside service members from multiple branches due to Ft. Bliss - the second largest base in the U.S. Army - being a joint installation.

    While keeping his career in focus, Tosta nonetheless gained attention for his skills and dedication. In 2023, he was encouraged to try out for the All-Army Soccer Team. Earning one of forty spots in their trial camp, he made it through and earned one of the coveted eighteen spots on the branch’s team, playing Right Back and Right Midfielder while donning the number 12.

    The Men’s All-Army 2023 campaign was a success, winning all four matches to include the championship on April 11 over the Marine Corps 4-1 on penalty kicks (after a 1-1 draw). The Head Coach, U.S. Army Maj. Josh Greene, noted that Tosta was a “huge part” of Army bringing home the gold.

    Accolades still mounting, Tosta next played as part of the "Armed Services Team" combining players from all U.S. military services. Despite the steep concentration of talent, they always have even less time to train together than each branch's individual team. A recent match, in January, 2024 in Auburndale, Fla., led to a devastating 2-1 loss against Czarni Jaslo Chicago, which Tosta noted trains together year-round.

    Tosta has since ended his contract with the active-duty Army and switched to M-Day with the Maryland National Guard while settling in Fairfax, Va., with his wife and working for the federal government as a fulltime intelligence analyst. Despite the added complications of reservist life, he decided this winter to try for the All-Army team once again. On Feb. 5th of this year - just two weeks on the heels of the Chicago heartbreaker - he received notification that he’d once again been invited to trial camp at Ft. Cavazos, Texas in March.

    Despite the added administrative work of sending a soldier across the country during what is often its busy season, the 629th EMIBn is proud to have one of their own competing at this level. His story has struck a chord with so many others in the formation who have played the game, including U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Ryan Haynes.

    "Spc. Tosta is an inspiration to all. Having played soccer in my younger years at the competitive level, I understand the hard work and dedication it takes to maintain that level of fitness, agility, and skill. Not only does he have to maintain his competency in soccer, he also maintains his duties as a National Guardsman and civilian. The dedication it takes to manage all three shows the hard work and motivation that drives the soldier spirit. I am proud of SPC Tosta and his accomplishments and glad he's part of our team. I wish him and his team the best of luck. Go Army!" said Haynes.

    Tosta is one of only three National Guardsmen who made this year’s trial camp, with the others solidly Active Duty. Tosta downplayed the significance, pointing out the team motto “Eleven as One” and emphasizing that the team spirit overcame all differences.

    Spc. Tosta still has to balance being part of this elite squad with numerous other commitments, working in a military intelligence unit while the Army implements expansion of such billets in one of the largest force overhauls in decades. He engages in team training and solo sessions after work to keep up his skills. While his command is supportive, he still must attend drills and make up for lost training as a military intelligence specialist. “If you are passionate about something, you’ll always be able to make time for it…I make a concerted effort to balance the roles of being a husband, fulfilling my responsibilities at work, and serving in the Maryland National Guard.”

    As he packs his cleats and bids farewell to co-workers and fellow service members, this soccer journey still has more chapters to be written, for a citizen-soldier-soccer player who always looks forward to his next adventure.

    The 629th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Battalion is part of the 58th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade of the Maryland Army National Guard. The battalion is headquartered in Laurel, Md. and traces its unit heritage to 1986. For more information on the unit, visit the official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/629MIBN/.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 03.13.2024
    Date Posted: 03.13.2024 20:18
    Story ID: 466138
    Location: LAUREL, MARYLAND, US

    Web Views: 149
    Downloads: 0

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