Team Bliss top in nation
Sgt. Sean Harriman,
2nd HBCT, 1st AD Public Affairs:
SAN ANTONIO – A soccer team, comprised of Soldiers from across Fort Bliss and one spouse, fought tooth and nail for the right to claim the Defender’s Cup soccer tournament, an annual all-military soccer tournament hosted here Sept. 1 through 3.
Coached by 1st Sgt. Hermann Groombridge of the 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, the team spent the better part of three days in the blazing San Antonio sun playing against teams from military installations from across the country.
“I’ve been coaching for more than a year and the team has gotten better with every season,” Groombridge said. “The team’s performance has been absolutely dominating,” he said.
The Defender’s Cup Tournament, hosted by Lackland Air Force Base, is held annually in order to determine the top military team in the nation, a claim that the Eglin Air Force Base team walked away with this year.
Team Bliss, who took second place overall, is now ranked the best Army soccer team in America, and the nation’s second best military team.
“The game was great exposure for Armed Forces soccer,” Groombridge said. “We definitely caught the eye of the Armed Forces coaches.”
Groombridge took over coaching Team Bliss soccer program in October 2011, and knew that there was great potential for players at the installation.
“We built this team into a national powerhouse,” he said. “The amount of top quality players here at Bliss is incredible.”
Spc. Matthew Perkins, 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regt., 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st AD, who played defense, said he has always been proud to be on the team.
“This tournament is a very big deal and I’m proud to say that I’ve taken part,” Perkins said.
Despite their second place finish, the Team Bliss was still happy for the opportunity to compete with other top military teams.
“I’m just happy to be a part of playing the game,” said Spc. Jovani Rodriguez, cavalry scout, 1st Sqdn., 1st Cav. Regt., 2nd HBCT, 1st AD. “It has been really nice compared to playing in the same place over and over.”
Having arrived at the tournament unseeded and practically unknown, Team Bliss was an unexpected surprise, finishing with a total 18 goals scored, the tournament’s top scorer – Pfc. Ricardo Zegarra, supply specialist with 3rd Bn., 43rd Air Defense Artillery, 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade – with 10 goals, second place, and title of top Army team in the nation.
“We changed our complete style of play, not like typical military teams that dribble and play ‘kickball,’” Groombridge said. “The core players that stuck with me from the beginning have made this team into a top-notch program.”
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