Kanoa dethrones Shirley’s

Kanoa Football Club’s Paulyn Joyce, third left, tries to break away from the defense of Shirley’s FC’s Joannah Carreon during their title game in the girls U15 division of the 2017 NMIFA Fall Youth League last Saturday at the Francisco M. Sablan Middle School Field. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Shirley’s Football Club’s long reign is over, after Kanoa FC eked out a 3-1 victory in the penalty shootout during their title game in the girls U15 division of the 2017 NMIFA Fall Youth League last Saturday at the Francisco M. Sablan Middle School Field.

Kristelle Itaas, Ericka Santiago, and Princess Alcantara delivered for Kanoa in the shootout, ending Shirley’s streak in the division. The dethroned champion ruled the girls U15 age group for five straight seasons, while Kanoa earned its first division title in three years.

Kanoa seemed headed for an upset against the then unbeaten Shirley’s after taking a 2-0 advantage at the break. Itaas scored for Kanoa in the 30th minute off a header from a Paulyn Joyce corner kick. The second goal came from Sharmaine Francisco, who was running toward the goal behind two Shirley’s defenders and received a perfect pass from Joyce.

Besides its pair of goals in the first half, Kanoa dominated possession in the opening 35 minutes of play, as it capitalized on a shorthanded Shirley’s crew. The many-time champion had only seven players at the start of the finale (six is the minimum allowed for the match to proceed). One more player then came in a few minutes later, but midway in the first half, Shirley’s was down to seven anew, as Katherine Magat left the pitch due to an injury.

Magat returned to play in the second half and surprised everyone when she converted a long shot in the 41st minute to keep Shirley’s in the game. Magat went for a lob and the ball hit the top center crossbar with Kanoa goalie Theresa Attao leaping in a bid to catch the leather, which eventually rolled down.

Another long shot—this time from Therize Millare—with about seven minutes left in the match brought the game back to square one, 2-2. Millare was left open from at the right sideline as Kanoa’s defense collapsed on Katrina Costales, who made the short pass as Francisco, Santiago, and Itaas ganged up on her.

Neither team then managed to score in the remaining minutes, sending the game in overtime. The match remained in a deadlock after the 15-minute extra time with Francisco and Itaas muffing their attempts and Toves getting back-to-back saves off Millare’s hits.

With the finals still undecided, the opposing teams went to a shootout with Kanoa firing first and Joyce missing after Shirley’s Irish Viray tapped the ball out. Lillian Podziewski also failed to convert as her kick were way over the goal.

Itaas was next and Viray nearly tapped the lob out, but lost grip, allowing the former to score. While Kanoa managed to hit the board on its second try, Shirley’s continued to struggle with Millare and Costales missing. Toves stepped in and used her knee to block Millare’s shot, while Costales’ kick went wide to the right.

Santiago also targeted the right corner and the shot went in, giving Kanoa a 2-0 lead, which was then cut to one after Magat scored with the ball hitting the top crossbar and then rolling down and into the net, catching Toves off guard.

However, Kanoa gained cushion anew when Alcantara’s shot rolled in, too despite being partially blocked by Viray. Joannah Carreon kicked last and Toves put the finishing touches on Kanoa’s upset after catching the ball.

Meanwhile, Southern United won the battle for third place after downing MP United in the consolation match, 4-2. Jerlyn Castillo made a hat trick for Southern United, while Sue Ann Huevas scored the other goal. Maury Zon Tybaco and Francesca Bucalig drilled the two goals for MP United.

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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