Guam wins in shootout


The CNMI’s Razeff Altamirano, top, and Dai Podziewski collide with Guam’s Micah Hennegan as they battle for the ball during the first half of their game in the 2018 Marianas Cup last Sunday at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville. (Guam Football Association)

Guam foiled the CNMI’s bid for a sweep in the 2019 Marianas Cup after prevailing in a shootout, 5-3, in the men’s U17 division game last Sunday night at the packed NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville.

Micah Hennegan, Nainoa Norton, Kyle Halehale, Shaun-Paul Martinez, and Morgan McKenna scored for Guam in the shootout, while Anthony Fruit, Thaiphi Austria, and Dai Podziewski found their target for the Teen Ayuyus.

The match had to go through the penalty shootout after Hennegan hit the dagger in the closing seconds of stoppage time (four minutes). Hennegan received a pass from one of his teammates and with most CNMI defenders on the other side of the pitch, he was left to face goalie John Joseph Bucayo and unloaded a cross that knotted the count, 4-all.

Sunjoon Tenorio, who gave the CNMI its last taste of the lead when he did his patented hop and jump over Guam goalie Alexander Stenson for a goal in the 83rd minute, tried to retaliate with less than 20 seconds remaining in the game. Stenson moved in, as he attempted to stop Tenorio’s shot, but could not make the save. Fortunately for Guam, one of its defenders stepped in and kicked the ball out and the visiting squad hung on to bring the game in penalty shootout as time expired a few seconds later after Tenorio’s miss.

Guam knocked it the first penalty attempt and the CNMI countered each time until Tenorio—the fourth shooter for the home squad—was frustrated by Stenson. The Guam goalie dove for the ball and use his body and hands for the save. With Guam ahead, 4-3, McKenna sealed it for the team with his right corner shot.

“Winning by penalty is tough. It was a great game and our determination to keep going until the end pulled us through,” Guam coach Karl Dodd said.

“No matter that the score is, we will not go out without a fight. I have many experiences of losing and being down by a lot of goals, but I keep pushing myself hard until the game ends,” Hennegan said when asked about his game-saving shot.

As for the Teen Ayuyus, coach Michiteru Mita took the loss as a learning experience for the team.

Guam Men’s U17 National Team players and coaches celebrate after receiving the trophy in the 2018 Marianas Cup following their 5-3 shootout victory over the CNMI last Sunday at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

“Win or lose, this generation of players have to learn. We need to gain experience and play this kind of intense match—how to control yourself mentally in different environment and to control and read the game depending on the situation though 90 minutes and beyond. You can’t gain this experience during training,” Mita said.

“Both teams fought till the end and played with pride. I really would like to praise both teams. This is only one match, but we could gain so many new experience and learning from this this so I really appreciate both Guam and NMI FA, the local organizing committee, and the home crowd that supported us and gave us this opportunity. They all came to give us a big cheer,” the coach added.

Meanwhile, the CNMI’s Jerlyn Castillo and Halehale were named MVPs in the tournament. Castillo scored one goal in the CNMI’s 3-2 win in the women’s U19 match. Halehale delivered one, too for the winning squad in the 20th minute to tie the match after Jonathan Capayas drew first blood for the Commonwealth in the seventh minute.

Guam grabbed the lead, 2-1, off Christian Kido’s shot in the 23rd, but the CNMI ended the first half on top, thanks to Fruit and Tenorio’s goals in the 39th and 44th minute, respectively. Guam tied the match anew when Martinez hit the board in the 65th minute, while Tenorio added one more late in the second half to regain the upper hand before Hennegan saved the day for the visiting crew.

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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