NIOC shuts down PHNSY Fog to win title

Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Ivan Castillo breaks out in front before scoring his second goal of the game.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

The Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Hawaii soccer squad capped off an undefeated season by defeating Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard Fog, 2-0, on Sept. 30 in the championship game of the Summer Soccer League at Earhart Field, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

NIOC, which finished the regular season with a near perfect record of 8-0-1, entered the playoffs as the number one seed and easily defeated the 8th Intelligence Squadron (8 IS) in the semifinals, before advancing to the championship matchup against the number two seed Fog.

“To start the season, we started off with a tie and from then on, we just got better,” said team captain Cryptologic Technician (Networks) 2nd Class Vincent Puzar. “Our chemistry got better and players returned from deployment so they were able to join our team later on.”

Against the Fog, overall team speed seemed to be the determining factor for NIOC, as the players dominated play on 50-50 balls and defense, where they held their opponent scoreless for the entire game.

“Speed is the biggest thing on defense,” Puzar said. “If you don’t have fast backs, it’s going to be a rough game because they’ve (Fog) got fast forwards.”

Hoping to catch the Fog off guard, NIOC started the game with an aggressive attack that kept the ball on the Fog side of the field.

The Fog just came off their victory against PHNSY 1 in their semifinal and had only 30 minutes to recover from the hot weather conditions at Earhart Field.

NIOC, which played their semifinal earlier in the day, used the additional rest to their advantage. They took it to the Fog right away.

Just minutes after the start of the game, NIOC flooded the box and got off a kick on goal that just missed.

Getting the rebound at the top of the box, Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 2nd Class Ivan Castillo saw an opening and blasted a shot that ricocheted off Fog goalkeeper Keoni Wongwai, a Department of Defense civilian, and rolled into the goal for the first score of the game.

“We came out to hit early and hard,” Castillo said. “I put a little spin on it and later, he (Wongwai) told me that it was hit hard.”

Puzar said that anytime you can get the first goal — especially in a championship game — it’s a huge lift for your team.

“That was the swing of it right there,” Puzar said. “You get the first goal and then you steam-roll from there. If you let up from there, that’s how you lose.”

The goal stood up through halftime, but with five minutes in the second half, Castillo put the finishing touch with his second score of the game.

“I received the pass wide to the left and I saw them coming toward me,” Castillo said. “I’m trying to cut off my route because I had to cut to my right. That allowed me to open up space.”

Puzar said that while the team was feeling pretty good about getting the win after Castillo’s second goal, they all knew that they had to keep on the pressure to secure the victory.

“It’s in the back of your mind,” Puzar said. “Two goals that’s pretty much it, but you’ve still got to get out there and clear the ball. You can’t give it up.”

Castillo said that after falling short last year, he knew that the team had to play hard this season to change the outcome — especially since this was the final year together for most of the players on the team.

“I leave next week, Castillo leaves in January. This was the last season for all of us,” Puzar said.

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Category: Sports