Saipan International School joined the elite circle of champions in the NMIFA U12 Interscholastic Football League, following a 2-1 win over William S. Reyes Elementary School in the 2014 season finale played last Saturday at the Hopwood Junior High School Field.
Rintaro Miyawaki canned the pair of goals that lifted the Geckos to the title win and put them in the company of past league champions Koblerville (2008), Saipan Community School (2009 and 2010), Gregorio T. Camacho Elementary School (2011), WSR (2012), and Whispering Palms (2013).
Miyawaki’s second and game-winning goal came under the 10-minute mark of the 20-minute second half and he got some “help” from WSR. The SIS forward attacked the Kingfishers’ defense at the center and he stopped near the penalty area before kicking the ball against two defenders. The shot seemed a bit off to the left side (right side of the goalie) but it hit the foot of one WSR defender, who stepped into the play for help defense, and rolled into the left corner of the goal.
The Kingfishers, who got their lone goal from Ian Mariago, tried to answer back to equalize and had multiple opportunities, but just could not convert those attempts. The 2012 champion had its best chance to score and even up the match going into the last two minutes of the game when Sebastian Manabat rushed inside the penalty area after eluding a couple of defenders. However, SIS goalie Daniele Colombo was quick on his feet and ran into Manabat to deflect the shot and successfully got the ball.
After that big defensive stop, the Geckos just melted the clock to preserve the lead and hoist their first championship trophy after falling short last year. SIS lost to Whispering Palms in last season’s finale, 0-1.
Bruce Berline and Mayling Colombo coached the champion squad, which also had Go Sekiguchi, Do Hyeon Kim, Matthew Berline, Jabez Sebastian, Patiphon Benchamkarn, Jung Woo Yoon, Brian Youn, Brandon Lee, Sean Gil, Hyun Jae Park, and Min Jin Cho on its roster.
The Geckos received the championship trophy from Northern Mariana Islands Football Association secretary general Ross Zapanta during the brief awarding ceremony. Zapanta also handed the Golden Boot and Golden Glove plums to Miyawaki and Colombo. Miyawaki collected 14 goals in the tournament.
Meanwhile, in the battle for third place, Koblerville Elementary School downed Dandan Middle School, 8-6.