McConnell soccer earns 2nd in Supporter’s Cup

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- During the Supporter’s Cup at the Defender’s Cup National Military Soccer Tournament, the goalie’s nerves built as he watched the ball being placed on the penalty spot. He positioned himself between the two posts and prepared for his opponent to kick the checkered ball. It felt as if time slowed down for McConnell’s soccer team as they waited in anticipation as their teammate defended the right to advance through the knock-out round.

“I was scared and nervous, because it’s really all on the goalie,” said Senior Airman Thomas Morton, 22nd Logistics Squadron Individual Protective Equipment journeyman and Team McConnell goalie. “I had let in two already, so I tried to stay focused because it was either make the save or go home.”

During the tournament, which took place in San Antonio Sept. 1-4, Morton was able to make two crucial saves that led his team through their first knock-out game.

“The chances are slim for a keeper to make a save during a penalty, and it’s basically a guess every single time,” said Senior Airman Richard Haskett, 22nd Security Forces Squadron Unit Armorer and Team McConnell midfielder. “Not only did he come out with one save, he came out with two saves.”

The penalty kicks during that first knock-out game were one of many challenges for the team.

A star player sat out due to a concussion.

“He was the biggest person in our defense,” said Mortan. “He was a center back and played every single minute. Thankfully, we did have someone to fill that role, but that took him away from his spot, and we had to fill that void.”

The tournament proved to be exhausting mentally and physically for the players, but the team was able to fight through an additional five games before they lost 3-1 during the Supporter’s Cup championship, where they placed second overall in that division.

“We set out with a pretty clear goal to win our first knock-out game, and we accomplished more than that,” said Staff Sgt. Collins Mensing, 22nd SFS Combat Arms NCO in charge and Team McConnell coach.