Shirley’s takes Division B title


Paire Football Club’s Erin Frink, left, and Shirley’s Football Club’s Marilou Arriola fight for possession during the second half of their Division B title game in the 2017 Dove Women’s Fall League last Saturday at the TSL Sports Complex. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

Marilou Arriola knocked in the pressure-packed kick in the penalty shootout to lift Shirley’s Football Club to a 2-1 victory against Paire FC in their Division B title game in the 2017 Dove Women’s Fall League last Saturday at the TSL Sports Complex.

Arriola, the oldest player on the team and the only holdover from the champion squad in the spring season, unloaded a shot that went over the head of Paire goalie Cathlyn Reyes, who attempted to block the ball with her hands. However, Arriola’s kick was so strong that Reyes partially had a hand on the ball, but could not push it back and instead the leather hit the top crossbar before going down and rolling into the goal. Pandemonium broke after Arriola’s dagger, as Shirley’s completed the come-from-behind win and secured the division championship.

Shirley’s trailed in the first half after Miles River scored for Paire in the 17th minute. The eventual champion then tied the title match in the 30th minute, thanks to Sharmaine Olivos’ goal. The finale was still in a standoff at the conclusion of the 40-minute game and it went straight into the shootout, instead of the overtime, to decide the division winner.

Paire attempted first and Erin Frink netted one in to the left corner post, as Shirley’s goalie Irish Viray was a step slower in moving sideways and trying to stop the ball. Mariana Castro was next and she also made her short, allowing Shirley’s to tie the match.

The game remained in a deadlock as Paire’s Anisa Villagomez failed to cash in after Viray pushed the ball out and Reyes did the same against the shot of Shirley’s Kersha Deleon Guerrero. Then for the second time, Paire missed, as Patricia Coleman’s shot was caught by Viray. After Coleman faltered, all eyes were focused on Arriola and she delivered, making up for the blunder she made a few years ago when Shirley’s also faced Paire in a shootout for the championship.

“This was the second shootout between Paire and Shirley’s for a women’s league championship. I was also there during the first one a few years ago. I missed my shot then. So it felt good to make the shot this time around,” said Arriola, who admitted feeling the pressure before she took the shot.

“I did feel some pressure, but before the game, I actually took some time to calm my nerves, pray, and remind myself to just play the game the best I possibly can. So when we were able to come from behind and push for a shootout, I was already thankful for just getting there. Kicking last, I just thought to myself, ‘kick strong, fast, and just hope,’” she said.

The Shirley’s team captain said the fall championship is very special for them as they were able to win despite having a lot of new players.

“I am extremely proud of my team this season. While people are used to hearing that Shirley’s always wins, that wasn’t our expectation this season for our women’s B team (despite being the defending champions). With the league being futsal, the committee decided to create a national development team for the A division. That caused us to lose a lot of players. We actually recruited three players from Shirley’s U15,” she said.

“We owe a great thanks to those three players. The rest of our players are either new or playing up from U15. Sharmaine, who scored our lone goal to tie up the game, is one of our recruits and new to the game of soccer. Throughout the season, the girls played hard, learned a lot, and kept their heads up high when we lost or tied a game. Paire was the only team that beat us during the season and we tied in our other games. So coming into the championship, the girls were nervous about losing. We knew it was going to be a tough game and we just had to keep up with Paire’s speed. It just goes to show how much perseverance, teamwork, and a positive attitude can accomplish,” she added.

Arriola also acknowledged Paire for making their finals showdown exciting and keeping lots of spectators up on their feet.

“I applaud Paire for fighting strong all season and all the way to the championship. By the end of the game, both teams had already won. A shootout can always go either way; it cannot determine one team being better than the other. Soccer is a team sport and what mattered was the teams’ performance throughout the game and both squads played their hardest,” Arriola said.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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