It's a three-peat for Langes, Perry
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan – They trailed by a goal with 20 minutes left. And Matthew C. Perry coach Mark Lange and his star striker son Gaku feared their goal of a third straight Far East High School Boys Division II Soccer Tournament title was slipping away.
Then Justin Hill went to work and saved that dream from evaporating. The junior midfielder notched a pair of goals, including the go-ahead goal with 10 minutes left, and the Samurai rallied late for a 3-1 win in Thursday’s championship at Iwakuni’s Penny Lake Field.
“Omigosh,” Mark Lange said. “There was a lot of pressure on us. Kudos to Zama, they played their hearts out. But we rose up to the occasion and overcame that pressure and won three in a row and four out of five. Can you believe it? Coached my son to three Far East championships.”
For Lange the younger, it marked the end of an era in which he totaled a school-record 155 goals for his career, 51 this season alone. “Great way to go out,” Lange the elder said.
It might not have happened if not for that late rally. The Trojans (13-10) in the first half took advantage of high winds that assisted a 35-foot shot by Roman Duarte to elude the hands of Samurai keeper Eric Saiki for the match’s initial goal.
“We played catch-up the rest of the time,” Mark Lange said.
That changed in the 60th minute. Jon Cadavos made a throw-in that Gaku Lange flicked to Hill, who settled the ball and fired it in from 18 yards out. “You don’t see any better than that,” Mark Lange said.
After a handball in the area, Gaku Lange lined up for a penalty kick that got stopped, but Hill was there to put home the rebound. Then Lange closed out his career sending a shot low to the corner. He had 16 goals for the week and won the tournament’s Golden Boot award.
Perry began the season 1-2-1, but closed with a 21-1 run which Mark Lange characterized as “amazing.”
Both Zama’s boys and girls teams ended up a win short of capturing D-II titles, which would have been the first in school history.
“We were gassed from all the games we’d played,” said coach Marc Norton, whose Trojans had to battle out of the knockout bracket and played two more playoff matches than the Samurai. “The boys fought hard. They really wanted it.”