NIOC wins big over shorthanded 17th OWS/AOC

Jordan Abraham converts his first goal on a kick from the right side. Abraham scored three goals in the game and added two assists.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

The undefeated Navy Information Operations Command (NIOC) Hawaii soccer squad just seems to get better as the Summer Soccer League (SSL) nears the playoffs.

Playing against a shorthanded 17th Operational Weather Squadron/Air and Space Operation Center (17 OWS/AOC) on Sept. 9, NIOC aggressively attacked from the start and finished off with a convincing 7-1 win at Earhart Field, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

NIOC continues to lead the SSL with a record of 7-0-1, while the 17 OWS/AOC fell to 1-7.

Lt. Donny George set the pace with a goal early in the game, while Jordan Abraham came up huge with three goals and two assists to lead NIOC to the lopsided victory.

George said that after seeing the 17th OWS/AOC take the field with only seven players and a goalkeeper, NIOC devised a game plan to charge after their opponent with a high-octane attack.

The plan worked out immediately as George followed the ball through the box and booted in a shot for an early 1-0 lead.

“It’s always hard when you play an opponent that has only seven guys. It’s hard to gauge that,” George said. “Our game plan was to get on the scoreboard as quick as we can.”

NIOC continued the assault and it wasn’t long before they got on the scoreboard again.

This time it was a kick down the center of the box by Airman 1st Class Matt Barklage, who finished off the goal after taking a perfect pass from Abraham for his first assist.

Then midway through half-time, Abraham, who almost converted on his first few attempts for goal, finally put one to the net to give NIOC a 3-0 lead.

Abraham, who was mostly positioned at the top of box, used the spot to his advantage, as he directed the team’s offense.

Although he could have attempted and converted far more shots, he said that playing his position isn’t always about shooting the ball.

“I’m supposed to be at the top, but sometimes you have to extend a little because of the defense,” he said. “Honestly, it’s not always about shooting. Sometimes a teammate has a better shot, so you just have to pass than shoot.”

The 17 OWS/AOC got their only score of the game on a breakaway shot by Senior Airman Abraham Rodriguez just before halftime.

In the second half, NIOC striker Abraham got things going again immediately after intermission.

Shortly after halftime, Abraham, with the ball on the wing, made another on-target pass to the middle and found Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 3rd Class Jacob Kroeger for team goal number four.

After that, Abraham used his footwork to get around the defense and shoot in the next two goals for a 6-1 lead.

Abraham’s final goal came off of a breakaway, where he beat the goalkeeper on a one-on-one for the score.

“Jordan plays really well,” George said about his youthful teammate. “I don’t think he runs out of any speed. He’s got a lot of energy.”

NIOC wrapped up the game’s scoring on an assist from Bark-lage to Cryptologic Technician (Maintenance) 2nd Class Chris Goncalo.

“We have a bunch of players,” George said about the team’s strong combination of youth and veterans. “Our people have been able to remain healthy for a long time. We’re used to playing with each other now. We’ve kind of gelled.”

Abraham added that everyone on the team plays well with each other and it helps to have personnel with soccer experience.

“Everyone has knowledge of the game,” he said. “Everyone knows where to be. We play as a unit. That’s why we’re undefeated.”

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Category: Sports