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NEWS | Sept. 19, 2018

JBLE places second on the 2018 Defender’s Cup Armed Forces Soccer Tournament

By Airman 1st Class Anthony Nin Leclerec 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The Joint Base Langley-Eustis soccer team placed second in the 2018 Defender’s Cup Armed Forces Soccer Tournament at the South Texas Area Regional Soccer Complex, San Antonio, Texas, from Aug. 31 through Sept. 3.

 

The tournament put 37 installations from across the U.S. in competition to find out who is the top military soccer team in the nation.

 

The teams were broken into nine groups, where the top two teams in each group were placed into the Defender’s Cup bracket and the bottom two were placed in the community Shield brackets.

 

Only those qualified for the Defender’s Cup bracket had the honor to compete for the right to be called the top military soccer team.

 

JBLE was put in group I with teams from Nellis Air Force Base, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, McDill AFB and the Armed Forces Women’s Team.

 

As an underdog in the group, JBLE wasn’t projected to qualify into the Defender’s Cup, but ended with two wins and a draw, highlighted by a convincing win of three to zero against Nellis.

 

“Our team captain, Specialist Steven Estrada, was integral in keeping the team firing on all cylinders by ensuring we were motivated, focused and taking care of our bodies,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jared Martin, 633rd Security Forces Squadron flight chief. “Coach Groombridge put us in the best positions to win each game and allowed us to execute. As the tournament progressed we realized teams were constantly overlooking us due to the attendance of some large base teams that historically did well in the tournament, which made our victories even better.”

 

In the Elimination round, JBLE played Seymour Johnson AFB and advanced with a four to one win, setting up a game against last year’s runner-up Scott AFB in the quarter-finals. The game ended in a draw with no goals scored and went into sudden death penalty kicks, where JBLE advanced with a five to four advantage and a trip to the semi-finals.

 

In the Semi-finals, JBLE was paired against defending champions Fort Campbell, a team that many believed would easily go through to the finals. At halftime, JBLE had a three to nothing lead and ended with a five to one win and a trip to the finals.

 

In the finals JBLE played Fort Meade and came up short losing one to nothing after a well fought game.

 

“We knew this would be a challenge, we lost four players during the semi-finals due to injury and suspension.” said Hermann Groombridge, JBLE Soccer Club coach. “Even though JBLE came up on the losing end, we proved to be a team to be reckoned with in the near future.”

 

Even though they lost, their hard work, dedication and sportsmanship did not go unnoticed.

Team after team came up to the tournament director and nominated JBLE for the Stew Hess Sportsmanship Award. Normally awarded to the individual in the tournament that displayed outstanding sportsmanship, good conduct and fair play.

 

“We made history, that's how I would define it,” said U.S. Army Specialist Steven Estrada, Transportation Management Ops Clerk, 53rd Transportation Battalion Movement Control, 7th Transportation Brigade Expeditionary. “It is an award that throughout the years was given to a single player and for the first time a whole team has won it.”

 

The award was to be recognized as a team award for this event, honoring each player and coach on team JBLE.

 

“The JBLE Soccer Club represent their units, JBLE, U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army with absolute pride and dedication,” Groombridge said. “We should all be proud of this team!”