The All-Army soccer team came in first place at the Armed Forces Men’s Soccer Tournament April 11 at Camp Pendleton, California.
The All-Army team won by a penalty kick after tying with the Marine Corps in the championship game.
1st Lt. Christian King, Alpha Company, 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, and 2nd Lt. John Poncy, 20th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade, represented Fort Hood on the team while Staff Sgt. Victor Sanchez, Harker Heights Recruiting Station, Dallas Recruiting Battalion, represented the Great Place as one of the team’s assistant coaches.
“It was a pretty great feeling,” Poncy said about being selected for the All-Army Men’s Soccer team. “It’s great to see your efforts and your ability recognized by the coaches and it’s an honor to place that kind of trust in you to represent the Army.”
King was also excited to be selected for the team and to be one of the team captains.
“I was excited about the opportunity to head back to the Armed Forces Championship and challenge for a gold medal,” he said. “I felt like the team had a lot of quality throughout the squad and we showed that in our warm up matches in preparation for the tournament.”
King said out of the three All-Army tournaments he’s played in this one was the best.
“The All-Marine staff did an excellent job hosting this year and it doesn’t hurt that we stayed and played in beautiful oceanside California,” he said. “I enjoyed catching up with some old faces of players and coaches from the other branches. On the field it was extremely competitive and honestly all the teams were very evenly matched. That was shown in the fact that all four teams had the opportunity to make the championship game and all four teams could also be relegated to the third place game. I don’t think that has happened in a long, very long time.”
Though the quick succession of the games was challenging as well as adjusting to the different style of turf at Camp Pendleton and the competitive teams from other branches, the Army came out on top.
“I felt great (to win) and I was truly honored,” King said. “That was by far one of the best and most balanced Armed Forces tournaments in a while, maybe even ever. We beat good teams this year to win gold. I say that humbly and respectfully; it was not easy.”
Poncy said getting the win felt like a huge pressure being lifted from he and his teammates’ shoulders.
“When the final whistle blew, when we saw (the penalty kick) sail into the back of the net, we knew we had won,” Poncy said. “All the pressure we felt, all the responsibility, (it) all just fell away.”
Sanchez also enjoyed coming home with a win, but what he enjoyed the most throughout the entire All-Army soccer program was mentoring young Soldiers in a sport that he loves.
“As a former player, I think my favorite part was mentoring and helping this new generation, the new guys, to help them maximize their skills,” he said. “Some of them realized that they can play in different positions that they never thought they could. And obviously the feeling of winning after all the hard work we did.”
Poncy and King expressed their gratitude to many including their command teams.
“I want to thank the 20th Engineer Battalion and the command team for allowing me to go and represent them and the Army at this tournament,” Poncy said. “I want to thank Coach Greene for being a great coach and mentor throughout the tournament. He really helped me a lot personally and as a player.”
King echoed Poncy’s thanks.
“I appreciate my chain of command from Alpha Co., 615th ASB, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, for allowing this time and opportunity,” King said. “I was proud to represent 1st Cav., wearing the patch on my jersey while playing and winning the gold in the Armed Forces Championship this year.”