CNMI national team players may have earned a historic win over Macau, but victories against rival Guam will always be special.
One of them was the CNMI Boys U12 National Team’s 4-0 shutout in the Marianas Cup at the Oleai Sports Complex Field. Clayton Izuka, Edwin Kim, Joshua Abragan, and Sunjoon Tenorio played for the winning squad and discussed highlights of that Dec. 8, 2013 match in Episode 3 of Footcast with Norman last Saturday.
Izuka provided the best moment in the rout, as scored the first goal in the duel just six minutes into the game. He played as goalkeeper for the CNMI and stunned not only the crowd and their opponents, but even himself when he made the heave.
“Up to this very day, I could not believe that throw went it. In my mind, all I want to do was give the ball to my teammates, but Guam’s attacking half was focused on defense so I threw one long pass,” Izuka said.
After the heave, Izuka’s teammate Steven Martin and one Guam defender chased the ball, which eventually dropped inside the penalty box and bounced off the hands of Guam keeper Jeremy Luke Collado before going in.
“My teammates started to run to me and our supporters were chanting, while I, still in shock, looked at referee Panapa Peteru, waiting if he would count it as an actual goal,” said the 19-year-old athlete, who was given the monicker “Hand Grenade” after that rare goal.
Anthony Fruit, Joshua De Leon, and Alex Park also scored for the CNMI to complete the shutout win. Other members of the team coached by Jersh Angeles and Johann Noetzel were Jonathan Capayas, Cole Chambers, Raffy Lee, Cody Leon, David Mafnas, Logan and Blake Mister, Jonah Pohl, John Tam, John Michael Rojas, and Jon Villagomez.
Tenorio was the captain of the winning squad and considered the team’s celebration after the game as one of the highlights of their victory.
“After we shook hands with Guam players, we ran into the crowd and I felt the goosebumps. I knew right after that win that it was the kind of good feeling that I always wanted to experience,” said Tenorio, who was one of the attackers on the team but played centerback in that game and was tasked for clearing the ball.
“I think the original centerback could not play, so coach put me there to kick the ball out every time Guam will attachkand I was happy we won,” Tenorio said.
The many-time CNMI national team member added that every time they play Guam, they feel more motivated.
“We play at a different level every time we challenge Guam,” Tenorio said.
Kim seconded their former team captain, saying that Guam and the CNMI’s match is always fierce.
“There’s a lot of emotions involved whenever we play Guam. So much pride is at stake,” Kim said.