Matthew Albert Cepeda Cruz played the spoiler’s role against the home team as his goal in overtime helped Guam escape with a 3-2 win over CNMI in Sunday’s Marianas Cup at the Oleai Field inside the Oleai Sports Complex.
Tea m CNMI was hoping to win its first game against their southern neighbors or come up with a draw but Cruz quashed their hopes when he beat the defense of keeper Gregory Pat Borja in the fifth minute of the first overtime.
The Guam defense then held up against the CNMI’s continuous attempts to score with keeper Brett Simon Maluwelmeng getting plenty of help from their defenders.
There was no golden goal awarded in the game and they played two seven minute and 30-second overtime periods aside from 90 minutes in regulation.
Guam struck early in the match when David Manibusan scored in the 20th minute.
Joe Wang Miller gave the CNMI’s first goal to knot the count at 1-1 when he scored four minutes after Manibusan’s goal.
The half ended with the score tied at 1-1.
Guam moved ahead in the 52nd minute on an own goal and seemed headed for victory if not for an 80th minute strike by Steven Clark McKagan when he beat the defense of Maluwelmeng and defender Micah Francisco Paulino.
McKagan’s goal brought cheers to the CNMI faithful and football fans that included Lt. Gov. Timothy Villagomez, Washington Representative Pete A. Tenorio, Northern Mariana Islands Football Association president Jerry Tan, Northern Marianas Amateur Sports Association president Michael A. White, Guam Football Association president Richard K. Lai, East Asian Football Federation secretary general Takeo Oda, EAFF deputy secretary general Alexandre Rego, and EAFF technical officer Ichiro Fujita.
But the CNMI gallery went silent once Cruz’s overtime goal went inside the net as Guam celebrated with the win.
Playing in front of the hometown crowd pumped up Team CNMI as they played aggressively all throughout and contested Guam for every ball possession.
The loss was the third straight for CNMI against Guam as their southern neighbors swept them in last year’s preliminary round match in the East Asian Football Championships.
The loss was an improvement on the CNMI’s shocking 0-9 shutout loss to Guam in Game 2 in Guam on April 1, 2007. They were beaten by Guam, 3-2, in the first game on Saipan on March 25, 2007.
Aside from Borja, Miller, and McKagan, other team CNMI members are Norman Ray Iglesias Camacho, Yong Woon Choi, captain David Cabrera Duenas, Peter Charles Houk, Lucas Paul Knecht, Christopher Duenas Leon Guerrero, Peter Benjamin Loken, Elias Jerome Malite Rangamar, Alfred Dale Roberts, Brad Edward Ruszala, Nicolas Benjamin Swaim, Michael Jon Thomas, Angelo O’Connor Villagomez, Daniel Jason Westphal, and Ross Benjamin Wood.
Joining Cruz, Maluwelmeng, Manibusan, and Paulino for Team Guam are captain Dominic Tacadina Gadia, Aaron Ramon Jackson, Mark Anthony Torres, Scott Dominic Leon, Ian Anthony Lujan Mariano, Jude Brendan Bischoff, Andre Tacadina Gadia, Joseph Patrick Aurelio Laanan, James Lee Bush, Francisco Bordallo Santos, Matthew Presto Cruz, Anthony Joseph Manibusan, and Thomas Kristopher Pangelinan Medler.