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Carlos Iruegas [right], a player for the Combat Center's installation soccer team, pushes against a player for the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., team, as they fight for possession of the ball June 27 at Camp Pendleton.

Photo by Pfc. Sarah Anderson

Multi-nation soccer rivalry comes to a head

2 Jul 2010 | Pfc. Sarah Anderson

Players seemed but multi-colored blurs as they ran up and down the soccer field, undaunted by the intense heat and seemingly never-ending clock during a soccer tournament at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., June 26 and 27.

Teams from the Combat Center, MCB Camp Pendleton, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., MCAS Miramar, Calif., and the Scottish Army challenged each other during the 10-game tournament.

“The tournament went well,” said Anthony Hernandez, coach of MCAS Miramar installation team. “I used it as an evaluation tool. The majority of my players are new to this team. The hardest part was waiting all day to play.”

The Scottish Army showed up to challenge the Marine Corps and brought their own piece of flare as they marched onto the field with a bagpipe player, complete with kilt.

“We come every year or two to play with the Marines, we love playing with them,” said John Carson, coach of the Scottish Highlander team. The Highlanders are currently stationed in Germany.

The Combat Center’s team learned a lot from this tournament, said Stephan Bohanan, the coach of the Combat Center’s base team.

“The tournament as a whole was excellent. Each game tested our resolve to break their style of play,” Bohanan said. “We have a unique set of players, and they stepped up to the challenge while displaying great teamwork.”

The Combat Center’s team dominated the tournament, winning all of their games save one.

“The most difficult obstacle to overcome was the ability to communicate for a complete 90 minutes. We had a several moments of uncertainty. However, the team persevered,” Bohanan said. “In the future I see a very strong team and the potential to win the title at the West Coast Regional Tournament.”

Camp Pendleton, like the Combat Center, won all their games but one. The rivalry between the two teams escalated as they prepared to face each other, both with undefeated records so far.

“This is our home turf. We are here to defend it,” said Julio Muniz, the Camp Pendleton base team coach. “We are a different team this year. We are ready to come out and play.”

A long and intense game ensued and became very heated as the players were easily frustrated in their deep concentration. The two rivals battled it out until the game ended in a 3-3 tie, a perfect way to hype up competition as all teams prepare for regionals, to be held at MCAS Yuma in September.

“Our team thoroughly enjoyed the competition,” said Skip Best, the Combat Center’s Marine Corps Community Services athletic director, “A big thank you to Camp Pendleton’s MCCS sports department and Theresa Flores for making this tournament happen and all that’s involved.”

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