Four teams got off to good starts as they prevailed in the opening week of M-League’s spring season.
Paire Football Club and Inter God-father’s kicked off the hostilities in Northern Mariana Islands Football Association’s premier men’s league with the former escaping with a 1-0 victory in their Division 1 game last Sunday at the Oleai Sports Complex Field.
Yogesh Singh scored the lone goal in the opening game, as he found the back of the net in the 70th minute.
In the second game, 2014 Cup champion MP United walloped Korean Football Association, 4-0, in another Division 1 pairing.
Four different players made it to the board for MP United with NMIFA technical director Kiyoshi Sekiguchi starting things off for MPU with his shot off a penalty kick in the second half. MP United’s three other goals were also recorded in the final half with Jireh Yobech, the returning Dakota Hall, and Joe Miller lighting up the board.
In the third and final Division 1 matchup for Week 1, Tan Holdings Football Club cruised to a 5-1 win over perennial contender Wild Bill’s.
Sean Perez starred in Tan Holdings’ victory after registering his first hat-trick of the season. Perez, the hero in the CNMI U 18 National Team’s 2-0 win over Japan Soccer College in last Tuesday’s friendly, scored his three goals in succession in the second half. His first came in the 65th minute, stretching Tan Holdings’ lead to 3-1. The second and third were posted in a span of two minutes—74th and 76th.
Ruselle Zapanta and Mii Tekopua nailed the two other goals for Tan Holdings FC with the former breaking the ice in the 12th minute and the latter scoring late in the first half. Tanapon Unsa earned the only goal for Wild Bill’s in the second half.
Meanwhile, the two of the three Division 2 matches in Week 1 ended in draws.
In last Sunday’s final match, Kanoa Football Club and the Thundercats engaged in a 2-2 draw.
Joshua De Leon registered both goals for Kanoa with his shot two minutes before the game wrapped up forcing the deadlock. De Leon hit his first goal in the 41st minute. Timothy Tawanpiy duplicated De Leon’s feat, scoring the Thundercats’ pair of goals in the second half (61st and 79th).
The Shirley’s Football Club-World Resort tiff last Wednesday also concluded in a standoff, 2-2.
NMIFA president Jerry Tan saved Shirley’s from a loss after scoring the equalizer in the 66th minute. Fradel Sedillo nailed the other goal for Shirley’s, while Hoin Ryu and Daniel Agulto scored for World Resort in the first and second half, respectively.
In the other Division 1 game, Matansa downed the CNMI Women’s National Team, 4-1. Tej Gurung, Titu Ahmed, Amzad Khan, and Shashanewaz Luvlu scored in Matansa’s season-debut win.
Action in the spring season continues this Sunday with five matches set for this weekend and one each on Wednesday and Thursday.
The pairing for Sunday are as follows: Paire vs Wild Bill’s at 12pm; Tan Holdings vs KFAS at 2pm; MP United vs Inter Godfather’s at 4pm; Matansa vs Kanoa at 6pm; and Sun Palace vs World Resort at 8pm. On Wednesday, CNMI Women’s National Team will take on Shirley’s FC at 7pm, while the Thundercats challenge Sun Palace on Thursday at the same time.
League organizers will squeeze in one more game per week, starting next week to go ahead of schedule as the Olea pitch is scheduled to undergo resurfacing this year. NMIFA is also looking into alternate venues for the matches.