MXS soccer team eyes repeat

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- The 62nd Maintenance Squadron soccer team got one final tune-up for the playoffs and a run at a repeat championship, defeating the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron 5-2 Monday night at Rainier Field. 

Less than a week removed from being handed its first loss of the season, MXS (10-1) looked like a team on a mission against rival AMXS (4-6). 

Just six minutes into the game, forward Mario Gomez-Navarro found Alexander Rojas on a break, who then drilled a shot into the top corner of the goal from 15 yards out. But MXS' stellar front line was just getting warmed up. 

A mere seven minutes later, Rojas returned the favor to Gomez-Navarro, finding him with a pass on another break. The crafty forward easily pushed the ball into the left corner of the goal, giving MXS a 2-0 lead. 

Meanwhile, the veteran back line of Tommy Mahurin, Henry Gonzalez and Matthew Sanchez held the AMXS offense to just two shots on goal in the first half. 

A goal by halfback John Masterman with just under five minutes left in the half gave MXS a commanding 3-0 lead at the break. 

AMXS did manage to score seven minutes into the second half, getting a goal from Jonathan Schnieber to cut the deficit to two, but MXS answered with goals from Frank Cazares and Rojas, both set up by some pristine passing. 

"We've all played similar street-style soccer, and we've all basically got the same skills," Cazares said. 

"We all think the same, and we always look for the holes in the defense. The other person [on the receiving end] just knows where to be." 

MXS' flowing offense and pin-point passing was born from a mix of team chemistry, experience and overall skill. 

Several members of the team play on club teams off-base and nearly all the starters played soccer in high school. 

"The front line just communicates very well -- everyone does," said Gonzalez, who is also the team's coach. "We try to focus on keeping the ball on the ground and not dribbling a lot." 

After falling into the loser's bracket last year in the playoffs and having to beat the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron's team twice to win the championship, MXS is looking to make things a little easier on itself this year. 

But it will likely have to go through the 4th and 728th Airlift Squadron's team, who ended MXS' shot at a third consecutive league championship crown on May 31 with a 6-3 win. 

Fourth and 728th AS also finished the regular season 10-1. 

"They gave us a hard run," Gonzalez said. "But we got everyone back, and it's going to be a different game next time. Our defense is going to be totally different. We'll see what happens." 

Rojas is confident MXS can repeat as champs. 

"We want this -- everyone knows what they have to do," he said. "I don't think there is a team that can beat us now. That next game with the 4th and 728th AS is going to be a good one to watch." 

The intramural championship game is set for June 15.