Kanoa Football Club topped Division B of the 2019 Fall Men’s M-League after downing Island Star, 5-3, in a heated game last Thursday at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville.
Kanoa finished the season with a 6-0-2 win-draw-loss record, just one win ahead of Island Star and Matansa, which concluded the competition with similar 5-0-3 marks. Island Star won the tiebreak for second place with its higher goal difference, 4-1.
With the Kanoa-Island Star match deciding the winner of the Division B title in the Fall season, the opposing teams engaged in a highly-physical match that resulted to the ejection of two players—Island Star’s Feng Chun Jin and Kanoa’s JC Piring.
The two players received red cards stemming from pushing incidents, while Kanoa was getting ready for a throw-in at the sideline. Kanoa’s Ruselle Zapanta was shoved by one Island Star player, as they jockeyed for position and the former rammed into Jin. Players from both teams soon joined the commotion and with most of them trying to pacify Jin and Piring, who was near Zapanta, it took a while before the brewing tension dissipated.
The confrontation happened in the 69th minute of the match with the game tied at 2-all. When the duel resumed, Ian Maniago came in for the disqualified Piring, while Jin was also replaced.
Island Star was left without an offensive threat and the team clearly missed its key player with its limited scoring options, as the group made only one goal after that and it came when Kanoa was already on the way to the title-clinching win.
Kanoa took the momentum of the game after the commotion with Maniago stepping up and delivering the hat trick in the remaining minutes of the game to finish with four goals. The young gun gave Kanoa its first goal and equalized the game when he hit the back of the net in the 13th minute.
Five minutes earlier, Feng Yu put Island Star on the board, while Xiong Zhe Li’s goal in the 26th minute handed the squad the halftime lead, 2-1.
Island Star kept the shaky lead early in the second half before Zapanta converted a penalty kick to tie the game anew. The match remained in a deadlock until Kanoa got the momentum it needed after the incident midway through the second half.
After Maniago came in for Piring, he and Andruw Omelau fooled Island Star’s defense as the latter started Kanoa’s attack only to send the ball to the former for the cross that gave them the lead in the 72nd minute. Two minutes later, Maniago scored another one off his own miss, while his third goal was recorded in the 76th giving Kanoa the comfortable advantage
A few seconds after Maniago’s fourth goal, Kai-Jun Ma broke Island Star’s silence, but that was not enough to spark the squad’s comeback, as Kanoa wisely used the clock to preserve the lead and secure the Division B championship.
It was a sorry loss for Island Star, which won its first five matches only to drop its last three, allowing Kanoa to steal the title.
Meanwhile, Paire won its final game of the season in Division A after nosing out the Old B Bank in a make-up match last Wednesday, 3-2.
Danny Agulto towed Paire to victory, as he made all the team’s three goals after scoring in the 16th, 50th, and 59th minute. Paire finished the season with a 5-1-2 mark for second place behind All Blue.
The Old B Bank had only one win in eight games to finish in fourth place, just slightly ahead of cellar dweller Korean Football Association on Saipan. Fradel Sedillo and Mickey Kim scored in the Old B Bank’s last match of the season with the former lighting up the board in the 52nd minute and the latter 11 minutes later.