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4th,728th AS blow away rivals to win title

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Members of the 4th and 728th Airlift Squadron intramural soccer team celebrate following a 5-1 victory over the 62nd Maintenance Squadron in the intramural soccer championship game June 15 at Rainier Field.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Abner Guzman)

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Members of the 4th and 728th Airlift Squadron intramural soccer team celebrate following a 5-1 victory over the 62nd Maintenance Squadron in the intramural soccer championship game June 15 at Rainier Field. (U.S. Air Force photo/Abner Guzman)

MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- The 4th and 728th Airlift Squadron intramural soccer team took advantage of a tired 62nd Maintenance Squadron team, scoring four second-half goals to break open a tight contest and coast to a 5-1 win in the intramural soccer championship game June 15 at Rainier Field.

After playing back-to-back games the day before, MXS tried its best to put forth a solid effort right out of the gate to get on the board first.

But the 4th and 728th AS defense and goalie Will Dabney put a quick end to that effort.

Dabney made a couple of diving saves early, and the defense stuck to the MXS forwards like glue.

The physical play of the game took a toll on MXS as forwards Frank Cazares and Alexander Rojas were each victims of brutal collisions.

Cazares was slow to get up after the impact, and Rojas left with just under 10 minutes in the first half after reaggravating a knee injury. He did not return.

"We knew they had to play two games [on June14] to get to this point, so we knew they were going to be tired," 4th and 728th AS coach Andy Dolan said.

"We figured if we could make it through that initial onslaught they gave us at the beginning, that we'd be okay in the second half."

A goal late in the first half heightened that feeling of security even more for the 4th and 728th AS.

With just under a minute left in the half, John Wimberley scored from point-blank range after being set up by a brilliant free kick from Erik Carlson.

"I knew that because it was double elimination they were definitely going to push to win the first game and see what happens in the second, so we kind of started a little slow on purpose," Dolan said. "But that goal right before half time really lifted our spirits."

The 4th and 728th AS capitalized on their momentum right away in the second half.

Carlson caught MXS goalie Al McCall off-guard by letting loose with a booming shot from about 30 yards out. Before McCall even got a read on the ball, it was in the back of the net.

"I just saw a wide-open shot and decided to go for it," Carlson said. "I saw the goalie at the far post and took it near, and it worked out."

From there on out it was all the 4th and 728th AS. Dolan scored off a rebound just seven minutes later and Joe McCane and Wyn Elder added goals to wrap up the championship.

After posing for a handful of pictures with the championship trophy, excited fellow squadron members stormed the field, popped the corks and hosed down the 4th and 728th AS players with champagne.

"It's just been the fact that we have a lot of good players, so even if guys are out flying we always have a good core of people around to all the games giving us that consistency throughout the season," an ecstatic Dolan said.

MXS' Rojas, sporting a large bag of ice wrapped tightly around his knee, said his team was indeed tired but gave credit to the champs.

"We had a lot of injuries and that hurt us," he said. "We came all the way from the loser's bracket to get second place, so we're happy. The 4th and 728th deserve it. They really do. They have a great team."

The 4th and 728th AS finished the season 14-1 while MXS finished 13-3.