The CNMI Boys U18 National Team capped its perfect run in the Marianas Invitational Football Tournament with a 7-0 demolition of the M-League All-Stars last Monday at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville.
Skyler Poon led the Teen Ayuyus’ rout of the M-League All-Stars after knocking in a pair of goals in the match that gave the CNMI U18 team a 3-0-0 win-draw-loss record in the inaugural competition. The clean slate also allowed the CNMI U18 to take the championship trophy after besting Beijing Elite Core Club (2-0-1), M-League All-Stars (1-0-2) and Beijing 97 United Football Club (0-0-3).
Poon delivered both of his goals in the first half, as he scored in the 10th and 24th minute. The Teen Ayuyus went on to bag four more goals in the first 35 minutes of play to pull away early.
Four of the CNMI U18’s last five goals in the first half were recorded in a span of six minutes. An own goal in the 18th minute handed the Teen Ayuyus a 2-0 advantage, while two minutes later, John Michael Rojas’ conversion made it a 3-0 lead. Joshua De Leon’s penalty shot in the 22nd minute stretched the margin to 5-0, while Taka Borja wrapped up the Commonwealth crew’s show in the first half with his goal in the 34th for their commanding 6-0 lead at the break.
When the game resumed, the Michiteru Mita-coached CNMI U18 continued to dominate possession and had multiple attempts before cashing in on another goal. Joshua Waldo’s cross from right center was partially blocked by Beijing 97 United Football Club goalie Hang Yu, but the latter had butterfingers and lost the ball, which then rolled in, giving the host a 7-0 advantage.
Behind by a big margin, Beijing 97 United Football Club tried to end its drought in the second half and had several chances to do so in the closing minutes of the game, but just could not complete the plays. From the 69th to 71st minute, the visiting squad, had multiple opportunities to make it to the board. The first one was a cross at left center, but CNMI goalie Merrick Toves dove for the save. Toves continued to hold his ground, as on three straight occasions, Beijing 97 went for the shots and the Commonwealth had a hand on the ball, either pushing the leather out or picking it up. Then in the extra one minute of the game, Toves used his hands and body to deflect a shot off a corner kick to preserve the Teen Ayuyus’ shutout victory.
Mita, after blanking Beijing 97 United and the M-League All-Stars (3-0), was pleased with how the CNMI U18 played defense in their last two games. On offense, he took note of how they were able to execute plays and make goals.
“We don’t want to score just because of our opponents’ mistakes. We want to have goals as results of our attacks and the boys did that in the last two games. They also adjusted well on defense after allowing two quick goals against Beijing Elite Core in our first game,” Mita said.
Beijing Elite Core, after a tough 3-4 defeat at the hands of the CNMI U18, took the runner-up honors in the tournament following a 3-0 triumph over the The Game-sponsored M-League All-Stars last Monday night.
Zhenxing Wang and Yifan Zhang scored for the Beijing Elite Core, which got an own goal off the M-League All-Stars’ defensive miscue in the first half. Wang recorded his goal in the 35th minute, while Zhang lit up the board 10 minutes later.
Northern Mariana Islands Football Association general secretary Ross Zapanta, East Asian Football Federation representative Maiko Sonoda, NMIFA treasurer Elna Curate, and NMIFA Executive Committee member Norman Del Rosario presented trophies to Beijing Elite Core, CNMI U18, M-League All-Stars, and the Beijing United 97 at the conclusion of the three-day competition.