8/8/2002 - Women's Soccer
Former Soccer Standout Esposito Lifts U.S. to CISM Games Title
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Former Naval Academy women's soccer standout Cristina Esposito spent this summer serving as both a lieutenant in the United States Navy and as a member of the Armed Forces Team that competed and won the title at the inaugural CISM World Military Women's Soccer Championship in Kingston, Ontario.
The road to the CISM (Conseilo International du Sports Militaire) World Military Games began in early May as the four Armed Forces - Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy - formed their respective teams to compete in the 2002 Armed Forces Women's Soccer Championship in Fort Eustis, Va. Six games for each team were dispersed among seven days, with Sunday being an off day. Esposito and her fellow Navy comrades, however, didn't fare well, finishing third out of the four teams with a 2-4 record. Following the competition, an 11-member all-tournament squad was named regardless of position. Among those listed was the Navy's lone selectee, Cristina Esposito.
Esposito went on to be named to an 18-player roster which would represent the United States May 22-29 at the first CISM World Military Women's Soccer Championship where it would face host Canada, Germany and the Netherlands. A unique aspect of the 18-player roster was that it became a melting pot of all four Armed Forces. It was the best 18 players representing the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy.
"At the Academy, I was playing against some of these players. But this time around, I was playing with them as my teammates," said Esposito, the only Naval Academy graduate on the team. "I remember playing against Holly Pedley and not liking her because she was playing for Army. Now, we've become great friends and are planning on playing in a tournament together later this summer."
The 18 players were forced to quickly get acclimated with one another, as they had just three days of training in Virginia before departing for Canada. The 10-day, round robin tournament got underway Wednesday, May 22, with Navy cruising past the Germans, 5-1. In fact, the U.S. found its way past all three competitors quite smoothly, putting to rest Canada (5-2) and the Netherlands (2-1) in the early stages of the tournament.
The U.S. drew the host team Canada in the semifinal, but held its northern neighbors scoreless in a 2-0 decision. Meanwhile, Germany staved off the Netherlands for a 1-0 victory and the opportunity to meet the U.S. in the gold medal game. The U.S., who crushed Germany in the first game of the tournament, continued its dominance. For the second-consecutive game, the U.S. held its opponent scoreless, beating Germany, 5-0, for the gold medal.
"This is one of the greatest deals the military has to offer," said Esposito. "We get the opportunity to step away for a month and play soccer both on a national and international level."
Upon her graduation in the spring of 1998, Esposito was commissioned as an Aerospace Maintenance Duty Officer and trained in Pensacola, Fla. at Aviation Maintenance Officer's School. Following a three-month training period (Oct. '98), she served her first command at Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron EIGHT (HS-8), a squadron that flies the H-60 helicopter. For the first two years, she was the Material Control Officer and went on to serve as the Assistant Maintenance Officer. Last September, she checked into her current command - Naval Air Technical Data and Engineering Service Command (NATEC) - in support of naval aviation.