Edgren finally steps into the winner's circle
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan – What she couldn’t do as a player, Jen Black accomplished as an assistant coach - with some help from her younger sister Vanessa.
Vanessa Black scored her team-leading 13th goal and Natalie Gammel and Claire Caffery each added first-half scores as Robert D. Edgren captured its school-first Far East High School Girls Division II Soccer Tournament title with a 3-1 home win Thursday over Zama American.
“It’s surreal. I feel like I’m still dreaming. It’s amazing,” said Jen Black, who’d played for the Eagles for two seasons, each of which resulted in Far East near-misses.
After spending a year at St. Leo University in Florida two years ago, Jen Black returned to Misawa and spent her springs assisting long-time Eagles head coach Justin Edmonds. “Finally, we found something we could give back to him for all he’s done for us as a coach,” she said.
“I’m so glad she’s our coach,” sister Vanessa said of the Eagles’ youthful assistant, adding that she still channels her inner player while helping organize drills during team workouts.
“She’s very close to our girls. It’s almost like she wasn’t a coach, but another player, like she won this with us,” Vanessa said.
The genesis of the Eagles’ championship run, the sisters said, probably had its roots in last month’s DODDS Japan tournament, in which the Eagles went a sub-par 2-3 and finished fifth.
That was their last regular-season competition before going 6-0-1 at Far East to finish 11-10-1 overall – the team’s first winning record in school history.
Vanessa sat out much of April and didn’t attend the DODDS Japan tournament. When she came back to the team, “everything just clicked,” she said. “The players all really wanted it.”
“Our attitude changed when we got … beat at DODDS Japan,” Jen Black said. “That was a wakeup, ‘we can’t win like this.’ We worked hard, our attitudes changed. DODDS Japan really shaped us.”
The Trojans, who finished 13-8-2, also had a strong week at Far East, but came up short in the end.
“That’s how it goes,” first-year Zama coach Manuel Duarte said. “I’m very proud of the girls. They did a great job, pulled together as a team and pulled out some great results.”
Duarte cited strikers Katrina Reid and Megan Hurley in particular for their combined 29 goals. “But it was a total team effort,” he said. “We got them the ball and they did their best to finish.”