Armed Forces Hawaii repeats as MISO champions

Specialist Ermito Arana beats his defender to shoot and score the team’s fi rst goal of the game.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

A remarkable comeback in the second half raised Armed Forces Hawaii Futbol Club (AFHFC) to their second consecutive Major Island Soccer Organization Division II Championship by defeating the Hawaii Rush, 3-2 at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Complex Stadium May 6.

The AFHFC, which is made up entirely of military and Department of Defense personnel from Hawaii, was started four years ago by Chief Electrician’s Mate Luis Zamora, Commander, Naval Surface Group Mid-Pacific and Information Systems Technician 1st Class Jay Reynard, Naval Computer and Telecommunications

Area Master Station Pacific, and includes several members from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Playing against the Hawaii Rush for the season’s top prize, AFHFC found itself in deep trouble after falling behind 2-0 at halftime.

However, despite trailing, player/coach Reynard said that he had a strong feeling that they would be victorious.

“I wanted them to realize that this game was ours to win,” said Reynard in a pep talk to his teammates at halftime.

“All we had to do was apply our training, play together, calm down and it would work. The goals they scored were fortunate and were off of mistakes that we made. If we stop doing the things that we are doing wrong and just play our game, we’ll win. I told them, ‘three-two,’ that’s what it will be.”

As it turned out, Reynard is not only a player/coach, but his words at halftime may just be enough to tack on another title: prophet.

Facing an uphill climb, Spc. Ermito Arana, who had missed on a couple of goal shots in the first half, started the team’s momentous comeback by booting in a goal at the 36:55 mark of the second half that made it 2-1.

Five minutes later, Arana found himself in the same situation and converted on his second goal of the game to tie it up at 2-2.

“To be honest, we didn’t come this far to lose,” Arana said. “We fought back and I made sure that I was at the right time at the right place and I executed.”

Arana said that once he booted in the first goal, he knew that he was going to get more.

“The first goal brought me back to 100 percent,” he pointed out. “I was ready, I was eager, I came back and put the other goal in. The second goal was easy, but I had to make sure that I put it in the right spot.”

Although the game was deadlocked, momentum had completely crossed over to Armed Forces Hawaii.

Looking to take the lead, AFHFC mounted another attack on the goal, as Arana headed for the goal from the right baseline.

Arana’s shot on goal ricocheted off the crossbar and flew into the vicinity of Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Tony Espinoza, Logistics and Support Unit – 3, who directed another shot toward the goal, but missed.

The errant shot dropped directly in front of Sgt. Justin Gazick, who proceeded to shoot the ball into the net for a 3-2 lead with 29:07 remaining in the game.

“Playing with these guys continuously, you kind of know where they’re going be,” Gazick said. “You can never tell where the ball is going be, but you get a feeling.”

Although the goal came with almost 30 minutes remaining in the game, the AFHFC defense, led by goalkeeper Senior Airman Ryan Barrantes, 735th Air Mobility Squadron, made sure that the lead would stand.

“I think it’s our name, ‘Armed Forces,'” said Reynard about how the team was able to come from behind. “We have tough schedules, gone from our families a lot, so that when we come out here, we just want to apply all those things and never give up because we’re representing more than just ourselves.”

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Category: Sports