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Eric Argueta, a defender for the Combat Center’s Varsity Soccer Team, kicks the ball to his teammates during a scrimmage against the Palms Springs Desert Raiders at Missions Springs Park in Desert Hot Springs, Calif., Feb. 20.::r::::n::

Photo by Lance Cpl. Andrew D. Thorburn

Combat Center Varsity Soccer Team goes head-to-head with Palm Springs youth

26 Feb 2010 | Lance Cpl. Andrew D. Thorburn

The Combat Center’s Varsity Soccer Team played their first game against the Palm Springs Desert Raiders in a scrimmage match at 3 p.m. Saturday at Mission Springs Park in Desert Hot Springs, Calif.

The game lasted about an hour and resulted in a 2-1 victory for the Combat Center.

“The team was formed a couple of weeks ago, so this is a good opportunity to get a feel of one another and learn how they respond to different situations,” said Ian Anthony, the head coach of the Combat Center’s Varsity Soccer Team. “It is an opportunity to get some experience and work on what I have told them in the practices.”

The teams played each other last season, when the head coach of the Palm Springs team called the Marine Corps Community Services Sports Department looking for a match.

“The first game was just a fluke,” said John Hall, the head coach for the Desert Raiders. “I was trying to find out if Twentynine Palms had a team similar to ours, and it turned into a scrimmage against the base team.”

That first game evolved into a series of scrimmages, which helped both teams gain more experience and practice good sportsmanship.

“Before every game, I make sure my players know to play hard, but keep it as clean as possible,” Anthony said. “These games give the players something to do and keep them out of trouble.”

Saturday’s game started off slow, but rapidly became a highly competitive showdown.

“The biggest problem with both teams was communication at the start of the game, but the Marines were able to fix the problem first with their yelling,” said Roger Rice, the regional commissioner for the American Youth Soccer Organization.

The Combat Center was able to score another goal before halftime. However, in the second half, the Palms Springs players had caught on to the Combat Center’s tactics, resulting in a fierce battle between the two teams.

“This is a great experience for the kids,” Hall said. “Not only are they gaining great experience by playing the base but also how to be good sports.”

Although the game was highly competitive, the Combat Center came out ahead with a 2-1 victory. The players of both teams then met in the middle of the field to congratulate each other on a game well played. Afterward, the two teams gathered together for a barbecue in a final show of good sportsmanship.

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