Exhibition match brings out positive


The Women All-Star Team’s Shawna Brennfleck, left, and the NMI Women’s U18 Team’s Jannah Casarino ward off each other as they battle for the ball during their exhibition match in the NMI Soccer Training Center last Monday.

Officials of the two women’s teams that played an exhibition match at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville last Monday welcomed the positive signs they saw from their respective squads.

Angie Ito, who coached the NMI Women’s U18 National Team that forced the Women’s All-Star to a draw, 4-4, recognized the commitment of her young crew to the team, as they held their ground against an experienced opponent.

“The U18 squad played well together. It was their first time to play without the national team senior players so certain players understood that they have to step up and support and lead the team,” said Ito.

The U18 group dueled the Women’s All-Star Team that has a combination of former national team players, current senior women’s team members, and mainstays from the Dove Women’s League.

“We had good movement with the ball and many scoring opportunities as well. I saw that the players tried to play as a unit defending and attacking-wise. You can see the level of play was good and a reflection of the girls’ commitment to the team,” said Ito, who had U16 and U18 players on the team’s roster for the Northern Mariana Islands Football Association-organized match.

She added that they gave a lot of minutes to their younger players so that they can gain experience in the 11 aside game and work on building up chemistry with the U18 squad. The process will give them time to understand the difference in game dynamics of a higher level game from a regular one and motivation to improve their team and individual skills.

Jannah Casarino led the NMI U18 with her pair of goals, while Allyssya Angeles and Tamia Hix added one each with the latter delivering the equalizer late in the 90-minute game.

Jhaza Mirano, Britanny Wally, Alexa Vergara, and Shawna Brennfleck scored for the Women’s All-Star Team, which was managed by Kelsey McClellan. The All-Star crew fell behind at 0-2, but was able to regroup and even threatened to take the win when Brennfleck scored in the 71st minute.

“The U18 WNT were a formidable opponent, due to their speed, skill-level and ability to feed the ball to their wings. It was a relatively evenly matched game, as you can see from the scores. After the first 15 minutes of the first period, our pre-game jitters melted away and the All-Stars maintained their composure, and had some great passing, building up momentum from our defensive line. The second and third periods were our strongest sets of the game, and I am so proud of the team and their effort,” said McClellan, who was also part of the squad’s starting 11.

She hopes to see more exhibition matches to benefit both teams.

“These exhibition matches are a great opportunity for the All-Stars to play together full field, and help the WNT develop their skills against a team that has a completely different game style and pace of play,” McClellan said.

MD: Officials of the two women’s teams that played an exhibition match at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville last Monday welcomed the positive signs they saw from their respective squads.

KW: NMI Women’s U18 National Team, Women’s All-Star, NMIFA, exhibition, Saipan.

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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