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News | April 9, 2023

Army and Marines to Battle for Gold

By Mr. Steven Dinote, U.S. Armed Forces Sports U.S. Armed Forces Sports

Twenty-five years in the making since the last Marine Corps Men’s Soccer gold medal, both the Marine Corps and Army secured their spots in the championship match for the 2023 Armed Forces Men’s Soccer Championship with wins over the Navy and Air Force respectively.


Navy opened the first half of the match with two goals, leaving the Marine Corps wondering if their championship hopes were gone.

Navy Lt. Alexander Maney of Naval Base San Diego, Calif. nailed a solid corner kick into Marine Cpl Jonathan Campamontenero of MCB Camp Pendleton, Calif. for the own-goal.

Up 1-0, Navy continued on the offensive with Ensign Bayne Bentley of NAS Jacksonville, Florida delivering the perfect pass to Seaman Julio Noel of Naval Base San Diego, Calif. diving for the header knocking the ball into the back of the net.

In the second half, Navy kept their defense on notice shutting out the Marines aggressive run.

With five minutes left in regulation, Marine Staff Sgt. Stephen Whisnant of MCB Camp Pendleton, Calif. lit the scoreboard up with the Marines first goal of the match. 

The referee posted six minutes of additional time and Navy pressed the Marines as time ran down.

Seconds remained in the match as the Marines mounted their final assault when Cpl. Brandon Torres of MCB Quantico, Virgina dished the long pass to Sgt. Carlos Vazquez-Perez as he drove to the net. Vazquez-Perez lost the ball on a slide tackle, but Lance Cpl. Lavrick Mulla from Pendleton jumped on the lose ball for the tying goal as time expired in regulation.

In the second half of extra time, Cpl. Ormar Esquivel of MCB Camp Lejeune, N.C. knocked the game winning goal in for the Marines. 


After the Marine Corps win, Air Force needed to win by two goals to keep their championship hopes alive.

Army challenged the defending champs keeping their offense at bay. In the 45th minute of the first half, Army’s Private 1st Class Devante Blake of Joint Base Fort Lewis, Wash. drilled the ball past Air Force goalie 1st Lt. Ben Lockler of Robins AFB, Georgia.

Blakes goal was all Army needed to secure their spot in the championship match against the Marines. 

The Championship Match of the 2023 Armed Forces Championship is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. PDT on Tuesday, April 11. The Marines last won gold in 1998, and captured silver in 1999. 

Army stood top of the podium in 2019 and are hungry to get back. 

The consolation match will feature Air Force versus Navy at 11:00 a.m. also on Tuesday. Both Air Force and Navy faced each other last year in the championship match in Tampa. 

Follow for complete coverage of the 2023 Armed Forces Men’s Soccer Championship.