ROK Army squad upsets CRC Indians for title
November 17, 2010
CASEY GARRISON, South Korea - A shrewd personnel move by the coach of the 2nd Infantry Division's Republic of Korea Army Support Group to remove himself as the goalkeeper enabled his team to fight back from the loser's bracket and defeat the FCC Red Cloud Indians 4-2 in the Warrior Country Post-Level Invitational Soccer Tournament Nov. 6 at Schoonover Bowl.
Lee Kyun-cheol, a lieutenant colonel who assumed command of the 2ID ROKASG in May and coached the team, replaced himself at goalkeeper with Lee Duck-joon. He then went moved to forward.
"Instead of using my skills as a goalkeeper, I chose to play forward because our team wasn't aggressive enough," Lee said.
Lee, who played four years of soccer at the Korea Military Academy, was among the oldest players and arguably the most valuable. He put on a dazzling display scoring three of his team's four championship goals.
"He was a great boost to their team once he got out on the field," said midfielder Jared Hafen, who coaches the Indians along with Bogdan Burdeselu.
After a second-round loss to the Indians and just one loss away from elimination, the ROKASG team battled back for a 2-1 win in the double elimination tournament.
Undaunted by the loss, Hafen received an early breakaway pass from forward Hwang In-soo that he converted into a goal.
But the ROKASG had a new plan to attack the Indians, who by the final game couldn't field a complete 11-man team at times and played with as few as nine.
"Our strategy was to have players pass the ball behind the defense to go one-on-one with the goalie where I could use my speed and skills," Lee said.
Running at full speed along the left wing and with the defense slow to react, Lee quickly dribbled toward Indians goalkeeper Jason Potts and booted a laser to the left of his outstretched hands to tie the game at 1-1.
ROKASG continued to apply pressure early in the second half. Forward Jung Hae-sik took a pass from midfielder Lim Sang-won in the penalty area and shot it into the right corner for a 2-1 lead.
Injured but not defeated, the Indians refused to fold. Midfielder Brian Anderson responded with a header off a long in-bounds pass from Hafer.
With the score tied at 2-2, Lee took over the game. Receiving the ball behind the defense, he went one-on-one with the goalie before booting the ball into the right corner for a 3-2 lead. Minutes later, Lee was inadvertently tackled from behind by Indians forward Kim Chang-je. He sealed the championship with a penalty kick into the right corner of the goal.
Hafen said that while injuries took a toll on his team, he remained optimistic until the ROKA team went ahead 3-2.
"The second half we dropped down to nine players and even after that we were attacking," he said. "We just weren't finishing very well. We didn't lose because of a lack of opportunity, that's for sure."
Hafen said the Indians played in seven tournaments on and off post this year, finishing first or second in six of them, including first place in the 8th Army Indoor Soccer Tournament in April. The team is currently playing in the Korea Post-Level League and will finish its season in December.
Lee was thankful for the competition and camaraderie.
"I'm very thankful Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation puts on these tournaments," he said. "It makes the KATUSAs friendly with U.S. Soldiers and helps Korea and the United States have a strong bond."