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The Journal Gazette

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette David Dowling of the Turnstone Flyers fights for control of the ball against Natalie Russo of the Circle City Rollers on Saturday at the Turnstone Center For Children and Adults with Disabilities.

  • Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette Luke Labas and David Dowling of the Turnstone Flyers celebrate scoring the winning goal in the last few minutes of the power soccer game against the Circle City Rollers at the Turnstone Center For Children and Adults with Disabilities Saturday afternoon.

Sunday, July 01, 2018 1:00 am

Turnstone Flyers defeat 'nemesis'

Beat Circle City in power soccer tourney

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

The Turnstone Flyers power soccer team saved the best for last at the MK Battery Conference Cup Series Tournament at the Plassman Athletic Center on Saturday.

The team finished the Premier Conference on top in Pool A, capped by a 3-2 win over rival Circle City Rollers in the final game of pool play.

In the 12 years of power soccer at Turnstone, the team has beaten Circle City, which is based in Greenwood, just one other time, which was last February.

“This team is the champion six of the last seven years so they've kind of been our nemesis but that's pushed us to get better; it's pushed us to practice harder,” Turnstone coach Jim Labas said. “It's always been in the back of our minds to knock them off and to finally get that win. It just feels good.”

The winning goal, scored by Luke Labas, came minutes after Circle City tied the game at 2.

“I saw the defender jump out like he was going to play the guy up high so I hit it really softly behind him and it went in off of his chair,” Luke Labas, 23, said. “I saw him cheating out because he thought the pass was going to go high so I hit it low.

“It's really thrilling especially in a game like this, with so much on the line and getting first in the group. It was really huge. It's the second time we've beaten them in 12 years.”

The Labas father-and-son combination has been involved with the Turnstone program since the beginning when Luke was 11 and, when the team needed a coach, Jim Labas volunteered.

“A player started the program but they needed a coach,” Luke Labas said. “So my dad volunteered and we've worked our way up from the bottom and now we're at the top level of competition.”

In power soccer, the game is played on a regulation-size basketball court with four players on each team. The ball is bigger than a normal soccer ball and it's pushed, passed and shot with the power chair's foot guard.

The program at Turnstone has grown from four players to three competitive teams.

“There's a lot of people in power chairs,” Jim Labas said. “It's a sport specifically designed for people in power chairs. There's a lot of people in power chairs that don't know about it yet, and they should be trying this out and playing it.”

Independence and participation level were huge factors for David Dowling when he fell in love with the sport eight years ago after his mom brought him to a camp.

“I used to play wheelchair basketball and I used to be on the swim team at Turnstone,” he said. “(My mom) showed me a power soccer game, and I didn't want to do it at first but I got into a chair and later that day, I didn't want to go home. I think I instantly fell in love.”

Power soccer requires just as much dedication, commitment and patience to master as any other sport. For Luke, he has developed and honed in on his precision that have helped him be more proficient in formal plays.

“I set up a cone in practice and I am at it or I aim at someone's foot,” he said. “I've really become a lot more precise in my passes so we score on a lot of corner kicks and set pieces which is a very big part of the game especially at this level.”

The 35-team tournament began Thursday and concludes today.

areichel@jg.net