Koblerville Elementary School-2 dominated Saipan Community School, 6-2, in the finals of the 2020-2021 NMIFA Interscholastic Soccer League last Thursday at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville.
Jose Maratita powered KES-2 to the easy title victory after scoring a hat trick in the one-game championship duel. Joining Maratita on the winning squad were Selena Atalig, Greg Basiente, Michael Elyada, Jairoh Guilas, Kapua Hocog, Bretanya Iba, Joseph Lizama, Kaliya Mendiola, Jackielyn Padua, Abraham Saralu, Kyle Tabanes, and Keeanu Villanueva. Francis Mendiola and Joe Etpison are the KES-2’s coaches.
“The Umangs brought back the championship to the south side,” coach Mendiola said.
The north side’s Gregorio T. Camacho Elementary School topped the ISL during the 2019 season after nosing out Koblerville in the finals, 3-2, while Northern Marianas Islands Football Association and Public School System’s Student Support Services Athletic Program cancelled last year’s competition due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the league returned to action this season, Koblerville assembled two teams and both advanced to the playoff round. Koblerville-1, unfortunately, lost to SCS in the second semis berth (0-2/penalty shootout), preventing an All-Umangs finale, but the former still finished the competition on a winning note after downing Saipan International School, 7-1, in the battle for third place last Thursday.
Before dominating their respective opponents last week, Koblerville’s two teams were unbeaten (in three games) in round-robin play and Mendiola attributed the group’s success in the short season due to the players’ commitment to the squad and the support from Umangs family.
“I am most proud of our students for putting their time, effort, and heart into each game they played. Their dedication to represent our school is one key factor that I believe led to our success. The Umangs’ school culture is filled with a spirit of competitiveness but at the same time we stay humble in all the sports we participate in. With this short season and with two different cohorts, it was difficult to have consistent practice times but they all put their trust in one another to deliver their best during game time,” Mendiola said.
“Another key factor was their ability to listen to their coaches’ advice and strategies and execute them on the field. This would not have been possible without the support of my co-coach Joe Etpison, the parents, our KES alumni, and school staff for taking their time to show their support in their own way. We would like take this opportunity as well to thank NMIFA and Nick Gross (PSS athletic director) for coordinating this season. The work you do continues to help build strong communities in our islands,” the long-time KES coach added.
Meanwhile, with his three goals in last weekend’s finale, Maratita recorded the most in the season after collecting 17 in five matches. Guilas joined Maratita in the Top 3 rankings for players with the most goals in the competition after adding two in the championship game. Atalig was the other scorer for KES-2 in the finals, while KES-1’s Jerz Navarro finished second to Maratita in the most goals record category after delivering 10.
Navarro fired two goals in their win over SIS in the consolation match, while Kian Estolas registered three, and Sean Billimon and Briannie Echalico contributed one apiece. SIS got an own goal in the third place match.
In the finals, SCS, after failing to score in the first half, drew a pair from Jose Sablan in the second. Sablan was among the four players who recorded five goals this season. The three others were William S. Reyes’ Aldric Jon Antonio, SIS’ Finn Altizer, and Estolas.