Mt. Carmel School capped its impressive season in the 2019 NMIFA Interscholastic Soccer League with a 4-1 victory over Francisco M. Sablan Middle School in their title duel last Wednesday night at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville.
Devin Propst, Markus Toves, and Gabby San Nicolas delivered the goals for the Knights, who finished the competition unbeaten. They swept their five games in the regular season and downed Hopwood Middle School 2, 5-2, in the semis before dominating the FMS Napu Riders in the finale to bring home the division championship.
In the title showdown, All of Mt. Carmel’s goals were recorded in the first half, giving the Knights momentum, while Napu Riders could not cash in on multiple opportunities to score, as they failed to complete plays off corner and free kicks.
Toves, who towers above FMS players and even his teammates, deflected one of those corner kicks with a header and Mt. Carmel went on to attack on the other end, but lost the ball. A brief exchange of possessions took place with Toves finally controlling the leather for the Knights, pushing the ball ahead of him and chasing it down before unloading a cross to draw first blood in the 16th minute.
Ten minutes after Toves’ conversion, San Nicolas eluded a phalanx of FMS defenders and made it a 2-0 lead for Mt. Carmel.
In the 29th minute, the Napu Riders had a chance to hit the board when Mark Joseph Roque was given a free kick. However, he missed, as his lob went over the crossbar.
Then just a minute after FMS muffed a free kick, Mt. Carmel answered with another goal. Miles Linden led the attack after receiving a forward pass from Toves and the former split through two Napu Riders defenders before taking a shot from left center. Linden missed, as the FMS goalie partially had a hand on the ball, but fortunately for the Knights, Propst was there for a follow-up that gave them a promising 3-0 lead.
Propst made it two in a row, as he lit up the board in the 32nd, courtesy off an assists from Toves, who dribbled toward left center and then backpedalled, spotting the former cutting through right center away from FMS defenders. Propst received the ball and went for a quick release, catching the Napu Riders goalie, who still attempted to deflect the ball, but failed, off guard.
The Knights hung on to the 4-0 advantage at the break with the Napu Riders still searching for the elusive first goal, as in the last two minutes of the first half, Mt. Carmel goalie caught the ball off a long free kick from Carl Salas.
In the second half, the Napu Riders finally ended their drought when Mark Joseph scored from between right mid and right center. He dribbled past Mt. Carmel defenders and faced two more Knights players, who then collided with one dropping down the pitch. Mark Chavez then moved in for help defense, but was a little bit late, as Mark Joseph took the shot ahead of the Knights goalie and hit the cross.
The Napu Riders got their first goal in the 56th minute and with the team left with a little over 15 minutes to make a rally and bring down the deficit, they became more aggressive on offense. However, Mt. Carmel made two crucial defensive stops to foil FMS’ late comeback bid.
The first one was when Leland Deleon Guerrero, who was defending the left post, leapt for a header and deflected a free kick from Mark Joseph in the 61st minute. After foiling FMS’ attempt, Toves got the ball, but his pass was intercepted by Mark Joseph, who this time went for a long shot near center mid, but Chavez was there for the catch and the save.
Mark Joseph’s second straight missed opportunity came in the 62nd minute and Mt. Carmel wisely moved the ball around and used the clock en route to the title win.
The Knights were awarded the pennant trophy after the game, while Toves and San Nicolas received the Golden Boot and Finals MVP awards, respectively. Joining Toves, San Nicolas, Linden, Propst, Chavez, and Deleon Guerrero on the champion team were Ruben Guerrero, Vicente Reyes, Ramona Salas, Andrick Poon, Sunny Kang, Quinn Palacios, and Earl Lacandazo. Mark Toves managed the Knights, while Jeremiah Diaz and Merrick Toves coached the team.
Meanwhile, Saipan International School shut down Hopwood 2, 6-0, to notch third place.
Andrew Chung had a hat trick for the Geckos, while Allen Cho and Will Lee added one goal apiece, and SIS also got an own goal in the lopsided victory.