CHO WINS FINALS MVP, CHAMPIONSHIP
Former CNMI national youth team player Eddie Cho capped his senior year with John F. Kennedy High School in style, handing the Islanders the championship in the 2018 Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam Boys Soccer League and winning the Finals MVP.
The Islanders defeated Harvest Christian Academy in the finals, 3-1, last Wednesday at the Guam Football Association National Training Center in Dededo with Cho passing to Noah Mueller for the go-ahead goal in the second half before delivering the insurance for JFK. Tayler Bonner made the other goal for the Islanders, while Seung Min Kim scored for the Eagles, giving Harvest Christian the shaky lead after the first half of the finals.
Cho and the Islanders entered the finale with a 13-0 record, putting more pressure to the team, as it aimed at earning a perfect mark in the season. The 17-year-old player, who suited up for the CNMI on three occasions with the recent one in the AFC U16 Championship 2018 Qualifiers in Thailand last year, admitted he was a little bit edgy, but only at the beginning of the title game.
“The finals is where every team wants to be in and only the top teams make it this far, so playing in the finals is an honor,” Cho told Saipan Tribune. “The pressure is just another distraction, once the game starts, that pressure goes away and I play how I need to play to lead my team to the win,” said Cho, who is one of the Islanders’ team captains.
“Winning the title was an amazing feeling because we ended up being an undefeated team and being the captain of this team really is a great way to cap off my senior season,” said Cho.
The Finals MVP, who used to play for TanHoldings Football Club when his family was still based on Saipan, towed JFK to three straight finals appearances and gave the Islanders two championships. Cho hit the winning goal in their finals win over St. John’s in 2016 and scored one of the two shots in their shootout loss to Father Duenas last year.
Besides getting the Finals MVP, Cho also made it to the IIAAG Boys HS All-Island First Team and scored 20 goals in the 2018 season. With all these achievements, he wanted to give credits to his coaches, including those who taught him to love the sport when he was still on Saipan.
“I am very thankful to the coaches that taught me how fun soccer is. That made me love the game and brought me up to the skill level I am today from when I was just a little boy. Without them, I would have probably never played soccer at this point of my life,” Cho said.
He also thanked Northern Mariana Islands Football Association for giving him the opportunity to play for the CNMI.
“I have high respect for NMIFA and I’d never forget what NMI has taught and brought to me as a player. I am thankful to the players, coaches, officials, and staff associated with the program,” Cho said.
Meanwhile, NMIFA staff Jersh Angeles, who used to coach Cho in TanHoldings FC and the CNMI national youth team (U13 and U14 squads), congratulated Cho and was impressed with the JFK team captain’s big improvement.
“I coached him when he played for TanHoldings U10 and U12 teams. He had the speed and left foot power kicks. I noticed the problem with him before, he just kicks the ball forward as hard as he can, not even control or dribble it. I remember telling him to prioritize controlling the ball, get closer to the goal by dribbling to the space then score rather than kicking the ball. I also coached him during the AFC U14 Festival in China and the EAFF U13 tournament in Guam. He was a big part of the success of those teams,” Angeles said.
“Keep up the good work. Always stay hungry to get better everyday,” Angeles added.