GUAM—The NMI made it to the win column first in its series of friendly matches against Guam as the NMI Women’s U18 National Team shut down its counterparts, 4-0, last Saturday night at the Guam Football Association National Training Center.
Allyssya Angeles, Jannah Casarino, Kaithlynn Chavez, and Tamia Hix delivered the goals for the visiting squad and they were also part of the starting 11 along with team captain Julienne Hall, Summer Manahane, Mia Abuan, Julie Ann Chavez, Christina Atalig, Pia Ngewakl, and Aubrey Castro.
Angeles hit the board first, while Casarino gave the NMI a 2-0 halftime lead. In the second half, Kaithlyn Chavez made it a 3-0 advantage and then was credited for an assist to Hix for the fourth and last goal in the match.
The NMI U18 made a couple of attempts early on and missed, but kept trying and remained aggressive. The team’s persistence finally paid off when Angeles was on the defense line, trying to create space between her and Casarino, and moved away from Guam defenders. Angeles succeeded and Kaithlynn Chavez fed her the ball for the shot.
The NMI’s second goal was also courtesy of Kaithlynn Chavez’s assist to a sprinting Casarino, who noticed only one defender chasing her and quickly capitalized to add to their lead.
“I knew I could outsprint my defender so I kept running. I also saw one of my teammates catching up so when I stopped in front of the goal and the Guam goalie, I immediately took the shot, knowing that If I miss, my teammate has my back,” Casarino said.
After falling behind at 0-2 at the break, Guam was pretty determined to bounce back as this time they made repeated attempts to score, but just couldn’t complete the play. No thanks to the NMI’s steady defense, especially from goalie Dehesa Mendiola, who made a lot of saves.
“It was a busy night, as I really had to stop those many shots from Guam in the second half. At first, I am quite nervous, but then when I started getting those balls, I felt confident and just told myself, ‘don’t allow them to score,’” said Mendiola, who is attending her first training camp.
The friendlies are part of the team’s six-game training camp at the GFA facility. The NMI U18 will meet Guam U18 anew on Wednesday and coach Irish Pagarao was pleased with how the young players performed in the first match and their work at the training camp.
“The first win is important to boost the players’ confidence,” said Pagarao. I like how they passed the ball, connected the passes, and gave them to the space. We told them to keep football simple and take more risks in scoring.”
Pagarao utilized all the U18 players in their first game, giving Rizza Relucio, Tyan Hix, Audrey Castro, Sophia Quintos, Cassie and Fiona Regan, Joselynn Atalig, and Kaye Anne Costales time at the pitch.
“We made sure everyone played because we wanted them to experience how it’s like competing off-island because they are the future of the NMI women’s football. We have more work ahead of us, so we want the girls to stay focused and determined.”
Matao wins men’s game; Ayuyus moving forward
Meanwhile, Guam blanked the NMI, 2-0, in the men’s match.
Ryan Quitugua scored the first goal for the Matao, while Devin Mendiola logged the other goal for the host.
The NMI and Guam engaged in a very physical game and the latter came out victorious as it dominated possessions and took more shots.
Despite the loss, NMI head coach Michiteru Mita told his players to keep their heads up and take the defeat as a challenge to get better the next game.
“Think of what’s next after this match. Think of what we can do better when we play them again. Losing is part of our learning process. We came here to train and gain experience, so just stay committed to the team and try your best to improve, that’s our mind set as we move forward after this game,” said Mita.
The NMI coach also encouraged his players to take more chances at shooting.
“You did good tonight, but you have to take more risks on offense next time. Take that shot,” Mita said.
Meanwhile, the NMI Men’s U20 players were scheduled to play Guam yesterday afternoon, while the NMI Women’s National Team were slated to duel the hosts in the nightcap.
Today, the NMI delegation will take a breather before returning to the GFA facility for the remaining two-day training sessions and the last four friendly games.