JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - The 402nd Army Field Support Brigade capped-off a perfect 12-0 season by defeating the 289th Quartermaster Company "Mighty Sabers" in a nail-biting shoot-out championship game to claim the Joint Base Balad 5 vs. 5 soccer championship here Feb. 19
In the championship game, the Mighty Sabers took an early lead with Gary Green from the 402nd AFSB equalizing just before halftime. The 402nd AFSB went ahead 2-1 early in the second half, but faced constant pressure from the 289th. In a frenzied attack, the Might Sabers tied the score 2-2 with only 45 seconds remaining in regulation.
The tie led to a shoot-out which was knotted 3-3 after the first round of five shooters. In the second round of three shooters, the 402nd AFSB prevailed 3-1 to take the championship.
The 402nd AFSB, an unlikely assemblage of beginners, intermediate and experienced players, could have been nicknamed the "Old Timers" as the team's average was significantly higher than that of the other teams in the league. The 402nd AFSB is primarily comprised of contractors, civilians, officers, and non-commissioned officers, with very few junior enlisted service members.
"We had a pretty diverse group of players ranging from absolute, first-time beginners, to highly skilled, experienced players," said coach/goalkeeper Galen Putnam. "The way we came together as a team says a lot about the positive attitude everyone exhibited throughout the season. Winning the championship is nice, of course, but what I'm most proud of is how we played together as a team - beginners and more experienced players working together side-by-side."
Gary Green, who scored the crucial goal that kept the 402nd AFSB alive in the championship game, is one of those beginners.
"I've never played soccer before. I watched the World Cup on TV and thought it looked like fun, but it is a lot harder than it looks - especially on old knees," he said. "I'm glad I gave it a try, but this is it for me. I'm going to go out on top."