The CNMI Boys U18 National Team found its rhythm in the second half to blank the visiting Hualien Football Club’s women’s team, 5-0, in a friendly game last Friday at the Hopwood Middle School Field.
Terrance Evan Thosert-Belcher anchored the Teen Ayuyus’ strong showing in the final 45 minutes of the match, scoring three goals, while Mareko Tekopua and Anthony Fruit chipped in one.
Thosert-Belcher drew first blood with his shot in the 50th minute, while Tekopua lit up the board anew for the CNMI six minutes later. Thosert-Belcher then made it a 3-0 advantage for the Teen Ayuyus with his second goal in the 62nd minute, while the Commonwealth midfielder completed the hat trick in the 76th minute. Fruit capped the Teen Ayuyus’ big turnaround in the second half when he found the back of the net in the last minute of the match.
CNMI Boys U18 National Team head coach Michiteru Mita was happy with the adjustment the Teen Ayuyus made in the second half after the opposing squads finished the first 45 minutes of play without a goal. Hualien got most of the possessions in the second half, but could not convert, while on a few occasions that the Teen Ayuyus had the ball, the hosts were a step slower in trying to break free from their defenders to open opportunities for scoring. Mita believed the squad’s early struggle was due to the absence of an official match in the team’s training schedule.
“In the beginning, the boys were a bit panicking because we haven’t played an official match in a long time. They unnecessarily lost possessions. We discussed our problems and their solutions at half time. We tried to not lose the ball often and move the ball quickly,” Mita said.
The head coach also credited Hualien’s defense for neutralizing the Teen Ayuyus’ attackers in the first half.
“They played well, especially in the first half and we struggled against their pressure defense. Hualien has some players with good experience and they really know how to play soccer. However, they also struggled because of the field condition and the weather. I think if we played in a different condition, the results may be different, too,” Mita said.
The Hualien-Teen Ayuyus match kicked off at 4:30pm and it was still hot. The Hopwood pitch was cleared, but it was still way different from the artificial turf that the Chinese-Taipei-based team is used to playing in. It did not help that the visiting players spent only a few hours familiarizing themselves to the pitch last Thursday afternoon.
Despite the shutout win against Hualien, Mita said the Teen Ayuyus have a long ways to go as far as their preparation for the AFC U19 Championships Qualifiers is concerned.
“I’m happy with the results of the game. However I’m not satisfied with the way we played. We need to improve the individual player’s techniques, especially passing and first touch. We also need to work on our decision-making when we attack. If we will do these, we could dominate the game,” said Mita, who was often seen at the sidelines making gestures to his players.