The CNMI U12 National Team coasted to a 4-0 victory over Guam in yesterday’s 2013 Marianas Football Cup at the Oleai Sports Complex Field.
A strong throw from goalkeeper Clayton Izuka and an error by Guam goalie Jeremy Luke Collado early in the game gave the CNMI momentum en route to the shutout win. Izuka threw the ball over to Guam’s defensive line with Steven Martin and one Guam defender battling in a foot race and chasing the ball. The leather eventually dropped inside the penalty box and bounced off the hands off Collado before going in to put CNMI in the lead just six minutes into the game.
“Actually that kind of play was done during our three scrimmages before we met Guam. We knew Clayton is capable of going for a strong and accurate throw, so the instruction was to try it if there are opportunities with our attackers running after the ball. After the Guam goalie fumbled, our players gained much more confidence and they became more aggressive,” head coach Jershwin Angeles said in a telephone interview with Saipan Tribune yesterday.
With momentum on its side and the crowd cheering them on, the CNMI bets dominated possession in the first half, which ended with the host team ahead, 2-0, after Anthony Fruit scored on a free kick three minutes before the opening frame wrapped up. The CNMI midfielder went for the free kick near the left center a few feet away from the box with Collado a step or two slower from saving the ball as he slid to his right.
Guam also had a free kick midway in the first half, but it went over the goal. The visiting team had some attempts, too in the opening 35 minutes of play, but the CNMI’s defense stepped in quickly.
Despite holding Guam scoreless in the first half, Angeles said the CNMI players were told to keep their guards up and go for two more insurance goals.
“We knew Guam is capable of making a comeback and two goals in the first half were not enough to give you a win. We told our players to try scoring two more and they responded to the challenge,” Angeles said.
The third goal came in the 47th minute with Joshua De Leon winning a mad scramble near inside the box and hitting a straight shot that caught Collado flatfooted anew, as he was leaning toward his left anticipating a cross.
Now ahead by three, the CNMI used its bench to close the game. Alex Park was one of the substitutes, reporting for duty in the 49th minute and scoring the Commonwealth’s fourth and last goal 13 minutes later. Park connected on the shot off a corner kick from Sunjoon Tenorio.
After beating the visiting squad, the CNMI U12 National Team was presented with a trophy during a brief awards ceremony. Guam Football Association official George Lai handed the trophy to Tenorio, the team captain. Also present at the trophy presentation was Northern Mariana Islands Football Association president Jerry Tan.
Meanwhile, the CNMI U19 Team challenged Quality Distributors in the second game in the Marianas Cup and detailed results of the match will be reported in Saipan Tribune’s Tuesday edition.