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Kanoa FC keeps reign

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Kanoa Football Club’s Paulynn Joyce, center, is hounded by TanHoldings Football Club defenders, while her teammate Lynzey Green stays close in the play during the second half of their game in the girls U16 division of the 2019 NMIFA Fall Youth League last Saturday at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Kanoa Football Club outclassed TanHoldings Football, 3-1, to clinch the girls U16 championship in the 2019 NMIFA Fall Youth League last Saturday at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville.

Kanoa finished the round-robin competition with an 8-1-1 win-draw-loss record and 25 points, just two points ahead of Southern United FC, which also prevailed in its last match of the season after dominating MP United, 8-1. Shirley’s Football Club topped Matansa, 9-5, in one of the final three games in the division.

Coming into the last day of the competition, Kanoa and TanHoldings held identical 7-1-1 records, while Southern United was lurking behind at 6-2-1 slate. A draw in the Kanoa-TanHoldings tiff coupled with Southern United’s victory against MP United would have forced a three-way tie for the top spot.

Southern United played in one of the first two matches last weekend and eased past MP United, as the former anxiously waited for the results of the Kanoa-TanHoldings game to determine its chances for the division title.

However, Southern United’s win went down the drain, as Kanoa delivered in the deciding game against TanHoldings, breaking the hearts of its two rivals.

Lynzey Green and Paulynn Joyce scored for Kanoa with the former drawing first blood, as she beat a couple of TanHoldings defenders in a foot race and unloaded a shot just inside the penalty area. TanHoldings goalie Judy Ann Andebor stepped forward to grab the ball, but was too late, as the leather rolled in, giving Kanoa the lead in the 14th minute.

Two minutes after Green’s conversion, Joyce made it a 2-0 advantage for Kanoa. Joyce attacked from left center and kicked the ball, which was then deflected by Jenny Ann Capayas, who turned back and used her body to block the former’s attempt. Despite getting denied, Joyce stayed at the same spot where she got the ball back and moved in closer before taking another shot—a cross that headed into the TanHoldings goalie’s right upper side and hit her hand before it volleyed into the left upper part of the goal.

Kanoa kept the 2-0 lead at halftime, as TanHoldings’ repeated attempts to score did not materialize with goalie Sharmaine Francisco playing steady on defense and frustrating their opponent’s attackers.

After failing to get the elusive first goal, TanHoldings finally hit its target in the 43rd minute. The goal came from a right corner kick with the ball dropping in front of Stephanie Flores inside the 8-yard line (left side) and with Francisco leaning to her right, the TanHoldings player was left open for the short shot.

Flores’ goal seemed to have lifted the spirits of her teammates, but just when TanHoldings players’ morale has started to go up, Joyce scored, giving Kanoa the insurance.

The striker made her second goal just a few seconds after Flores’ shot. Joyce went to center spot to restart the game and with the smaller Kaithlyn Chavez in front of her, the Kanoa player caught everyone flatfooted when she hit the ball hard toward the goal. Joyce’s lob partially kissed the crossbar (center) before the ball headed down and into the goal with Andebor a few steps late for the save, as she earlier moved away from her post, anticipating the former to go for the easy kick because of the restart play.

Joyce celebrated with her teammates after making the dagger and Kanoa went on to keep the lead and the title victory, as TanHoldings could not cash in on opportunities to score in the remaining 20-plus minutes of the game.

The championship was Kanoa’s third straight in the age group, as no other squad has won the division since Northern Mariana Islands Football Club switched from girls U15 to U16 in 2018. Kanoa took the title in last year’s spring season after a 2-1 victory in the finals over Shirley’s Football Club and was leading in the fall of the same year, but the competition was shelved in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yutu. Then in the spring season this year, Kanoa also registered an 8-1-1 record to beat Southern United (7-2-1) for the division title.

Kanoa Football Club players and coach Irish Pagarao, standing right, gather for a group photo after beating TanHoldings Football Club in the girls U16 division game in the 2019 NMIFA Fall Youth League last Saturday at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

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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