All Blue clinched the Division A championship in the 2019 Fall Men’s M-League after beating TanHoldings Football Club, 6-4, in its final game of the season last Sunday at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville.
All Blue finished the competition with a 7-1-0 win-draw-loss record, two victories ahead of TanHoldings, which temporarily dislodged the former from the top spot late last month, but could end up at third place in the final rankings after wrapping up the season with a 5-0-3 mark. TanHoldings is currently in second place, but a victory by Paire Football Club (4-1-2) in a make-up game against the Old B Bank tomorrow would bring the former down to third.
Sebastien Manabat and John Michael Rojas teamed up in handing All Blue the win over TanHoldings after scoring two goals each. Manabat drew first blood with his conversion in the 11th minute and also got his second goal in the opening half after lighting up the board anew in the 29th. Rojas delivered the pair for All Blue late in the first half, as he found his target in the 34th and 43rd minute to lift the eventual division champion to a 5-2 halftime advantage. All Blue, earlier in the 19th minute, drew one goal from Joshua De Leon.
While three different players made it to the board for All Blue, only Mark Esalan scored for TanHoldings, forcing the squad to play catch up after the break. Esalan had his first goal in the 13th minute and the second in the 36th.
In the second half, TanHoldings finally got a goal from a different player with Jim Maniago nailing a shot in the 52nd minute to cut the deficit to 2, 3-5. However, Reginald Pascual countered eight minutes later to keep All Blue’s safe distance.
Both teams made repeated attempts to score in the next 20 minutes and some change, but faltered. Esalan then earned his third goal and fourth for TanHoldings, but it came in the 88th minute or late in the second half where All Blue had the luxury to use the clock to keep its lead and foil its foe’s comeback bid.
Paire 10, KFAS 1
In the other Division A match last Sunday, Paire walloped Korean Football Association on Saipan.
Chris Nelson, Jireh Yobech, and Brad Ruszala logged two goals apiece for Paire, while Alan Guidino, Yoji Singh, Oiwei Wang, and Samuel Smith chipped in one each.
KFAS drew its lone goal from Junsik Kim, who averted the squad’s shutout loss when he scored in the 80th minute.
Matansa 4, WNT 3
In the only match in Division B last Sunday, Matansa survived the CNMI Women’s National Team’s second half rally.
Ahead after the first half, 2-0, Matansa was forced to a deadlock in the 80 th minute after Jannah Casarino made the equalizer. Fortunately for Matansa, David Mafnas came to the team’s rescue, as he delivered the go-ahead four minutes later.
Matansa led at the break off Amzad Khan’s goal in the 12th minute and Gabriel Arkoh Jr.’s conversion in the 37th. Jerlyn Castillo then put WNT on the board seven minutes into the second half to move their squad within one, but Arkoh’s goal in the 73rd minute gave Matansa more cushion.
Castillo answered with her second goal three minutes later to keep Matansa within striking distance before eventually tying the game. However, Matansa had the last say, thanks to Mafnas’ dagger.
Matansa finished the season with five victories in eight games, while the WNT failed to win a single match in the divison.