MP United Football Club outclassed TanHoldings, 4-2, in the playoff match for the boys U17 division championship in the 2017 NMIFA Youth Spring League yesterday at the Hopwood Middle School Field.
Sunjoon Tenorio lifted MP United to the title victory against its perennial rival after scoring a hat-trick, while Edwin Kim made the other goal for the eventual champion.
Tenorio drilled his first goal in the eighth minute and it came off a rebound as he missed his first attempt off a pass from Joshua Abragan. The two MP United veterans then teamed up anew for the squad’s second goal 14 minutes later as Abragan fed Tenorio with the former this time finding the back of the net on his first try after using his left foot to kick the ball in.
MP United took the early lead and was in control of the majority of the first half as TanHoldings went back to its gun-shy mode, opting to pass the ball more instead of gambling on taking shots. TanHoldings then finally got its needed break in the 37th minute when Mareko Tekopua was fouled on his way to attacking MP United’s defense. He made the penalty kick to keep TanHoldings in the game after the first half.
In the second half, MP United was still aggressive and nearly got two goals off Tenorio’s kicks in the opening minutes of that period. Despite his botched attempts, Tenorio remained persistent and his patience was rewarded in the 57th minute, as he received another pass from Abragan and went for a shot in front of TanHoldings goalie John Joseph Bucayo. The TanHoldings keeper chose to leave his spot and moved forward in a bid to prevent Tenorio from kicking the ball, but the latter had a quick release with the leather going above the head of Bucayo and dropping into the net.
That has been the story of the rubber match with MP United taking chances on hurried shots before TanHoldings’ defense set in and the latter showing reluctance on offense.
Ahead at 2-1, with time on its side, MP United put icing on the cake when Edwin Kim nailed a penalty kick off a handball from TanHoldings in the 62nd minute. A goal from Tekopua off a free kick from Anthony Fruit in the 68th minute pegged the final score.
With the title win, MP United extended its reign in the boys U17 division. It swept the Spring and Fall seasons of the division last year, making the club the only winner in the age group since Northern Mariana Islands Football Association switched from the boys U18 to the U17 format.
The victory was also a sort of sweet revenge for MP United, which was denied an outright claim to the division championship by TanHoldings after the latter won the last regular season game, 1-0. MP United and TanHoldings ended up with similar 7-0-1 win-draw-loss record to set up the playoff match.
“After that loss, we told the players to move forward and focus on the playoff game. Sunjoon gave us a good start with those two goals, but still we reminded the boys to keep attacking because we’re just leading by one at halftime,” MP United coach Jason Kim said in an interview with Saipan Tribune yesterday.
“Today, the more aggressive team won,” he added.