CNMI rules Tuloy XO Cup


The CNMI Boys U16 Team player and officials proudly pose with their medals and trophy after winning the Inaugural Tuloy XO Cup following a 4-2 victory over Chelsea FC Soccer School Hong Kong in the finals yesterday in Alabang, Philippines. (Ladyvir Canape)

The CNMI Boys U16 National Team was right on the money in the penalty shootout as it beat Chelsea FC Soccer School Hong Kong in the finals of the Inaugural Tuloy XO Cup in the Philippines yesterday.

The Teen Ayuyus earned a 4-2 victory in the shootout, capping the upset over the No. 1 ranked Chelsea with a big save from goalie Jonathan Mindanao. The CNMI goalkeeper caught a shot from Chelsea’s last shooter—a lefty who went for a straight shot to Mindanao’s right with the latter anticipating it, as he timely moved sideways and got the ball using his two hands.

Pandemonium broke and Mindanao was mobbed by his teammates after his second defensive stop in the shootout, while the Chelsea player fell down on his knees and covered his face with his jersey in frustration as they suffered their lone defeat in the tournament. With Mindanao’s save, the Teen Ayuyus did not have to attempt for the fifth time in the shootout, which started with Chelsea missing the first shot and followed by Thaiphi Austria’s conversion that put CNMI in the lead.

Rintaro Miyawaki, Mark Esalan, and Sebastien Manabat also hit their mark, while Chelsea countered with only two goals, allowing the Teen Ayuyus to rule the six-team competition.

Esalan also delivered in regulation after slipping past his defender and handing the CNMI its first goal in the 19th minute. Chelsea equalized a minute later off a free kick, before the Teen Ayuyus got the upper hand back off Rintaro Miyawaki’s shot from John Michael Rojas’ corner kick.

Chelsea then forced another tie and got one more goal, while the CNMI was awarded an own goal from the error of the opposing team’s goalie for the third standoff in the finals.

With the title match in a deadlock, the finalists had to go through the shootout where the Teen Ayuyus showed accuracy on offense and Mindanao displaying poise on the defensive end.

The Michiteru Mita-coached team was handed the Tuloy XO Cup after the exciting title game and on top of winning the inaugural tournament, two of the CNMI players were also recognized at the awards ceremony. Esalan was named MVP, while Miyawaki got the Golden Boot award.

The CNMI marched into the thrilling finale yesterday after earning 3-1-1 win-draw-loss record in the elimination round and placing second behind Chelsea (3-2-0).

Chelsea FC had a slight edge in the one-game finals because of its unbeaten record, but the Teen Ayuyus proved they are no pushovers, as they forced the former to a draw in their elimination round last Friday afternoon.

The CNMI engaged Chelsea FC to a scoreless draw to secure a finals berth. The match against Chelsea FC was the second game of the day for the Teen Ayuyus, who won over Schwarz FC in the morning match. The Commonwealth bets’ other victories were versus Luen Thai Soccer School (4-1) and Tuloy (5-1) last Wednesday during the kick-off of the tournament, while its lone loss came at the hands of Malaya FC (1-5).

The win over Schwarz FC and draw against Chelsea allowed the Teen Ayuyus to beat Malaya FC in a close fight for the second and last finals ticket. Malaya FC ended the tournament with a 3-0-2 card.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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