MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- The old saying that there is a fine line between success and failure never held truer than last week at the West Coast Regional Soccer Championship for Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton.
Expectations for Base were high going into the week-long tournament at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego — mostly because Pendleton’s 1st FSSG, which wasn’t at this year’s event, brought the championship trophy home in 2005, making Base the default returning champion.
Pendleton only fielded one team — as opposed to two or three, like most years. In theory, the talent level was more highly concentrated for the squad.
That may have sounded good on paper, but reality set in after just one game into the six-team, round-robin event.
After taking a 3-0 lead over eventual champion Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in Game 1, Base watched its rivals storm back and win 4-3.
“We broke down,” said Base coach Enrique Guzman from Combat Logistics Battalion 1. “The opportunities that we had in the first half we took for granted, and that’s what led us to break down in the second half. We made a few mistakes, and they just kept accumulating.”
Reeling from the devastating let down in Game 1, Base dropped its next two games to Marine Corps Base Hawaii (4-2) and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms (6-3).
Down 0-3, you’d have thought, Base was surely out of the running for any chance at a medal — but the squad wasn’t about to give up so easily.
Base unleashed its frustration out on Marine Corps Air Station Yuma (6-1) in Game 4 and then completely dominated MCRD San Diego (10-0) in its finale.
If Hawaii would’ve fallen to Twentynine Palms in its last game, Pendleton would’ve actually captured the silver medal. But Hawaii came away with a 3-1 win and Pendleton found itself in third place.
When it was over, Guzman couldn’t help but look back at the the second half of the first game against Miramar. He felt that blowing that 3-0 lead cost the team a shot at defending the title.
“We were only one half away from being in a better position,” said Guzman. “Possibly first place if we won that (first) game (against Miramar).”