Tinsel Toes weathered Betde’s second-half storm to eke out an 8-6 victory in their thrilling title showdown in the co-ed U12 division of Saipan Soccer School’s 2018 Youth Futsal Tournament last Friday night at the TSL Sports Complex.
After moving ahead by four at the end o the first half, 5-1, Tinsel Toes folded up in the majority of the second before recovering in the nick of time to avoid a monumental collapse and secure the division championship.
Markus Toves saved the day for Tinsel Toes, as he hit back-to-back goals after Betde stole the lead, 6-5. Sean Gil then drilled the insurance in the final minute and change of the exciting finale to break Betde’s heart.
Betde put on a gallant stand, working its way back into the game after Tinsel Toes dominated the first half. Gil knocked in a hat trick in the first half alone, while Ruben Guerrero and Toves added one goal apiece to give Tinsel Toes the advantage at the break. Tinsel Toes players were too aggressive on offense and a step ahead of Betde in running after the ball to set the tone in the finale.
Down, but definitely not out, Betde mounted a comeback in the second half behind Mark Roque, who delivered the lone goal for his squad in the opening 20 minutes of play. The diminutive striker fired four straight goals, toying around the defense of Tinsel Toes for force the first deadlock in the match, 5-5.
Betde kept going and this time was the more aggressive team. Its persistence both on offense and defense was then rewarded when Anthony Austria broke loose from his defender and hit a cross, giving Betde the upper hand for the first time, 6-5.
After Betde grabbed the driver’s seat, coach Jovi Chavez called a timeout to give his wards a breather. Tinsel Toes coach Catherine Toves, on the other hand, used the lull at the 4:53 mark of the action-packed finale, which had supporters from both camps up on their feet, to lift her players’ spirit.
“I could see frustrations from their eyes after we lost the lead, so I reminded them to keep their composure, play smart, and not rush things because the more we lose patience, the more we will commit silly mistakes. Right before they left the bench, I just told them they can do it, just believe,” Catherine said.
When the game resumed, Catherine’s son Markus responded with a goal as he eluded one defender after another from the backcourt to knot the count and somehow restore order back to Tinsel Toes. Markus then made it two in a row with a cross against two Betde defenders to help Tinsel Toes regain the lead, 7-6, with a little over two minutes left in the title match.
Betde tried to mount another comeback, but Tinsel Toes’ defense hung in there, foiling Roque and company’s repeated attempts to score. Then with Betde still in the race, Gil anticipated a pass off a kick-in from Julie Capayas and unleashed a long shot that went in between the legs of Betde goalie Mark Chavez for the dagger.
“It was a very good finals game. Betde is such a talented team that’s why we had a hard time against them. We tied in our first meeting and they beat us in the second round. Betde is such a strong team that even though we led at halftime, I knew that they are capable of coming back. I am just proud of our team, the players were able to gather themselves back after Betde’s rally and win,” Catherine said.
Meanwhile, results in the title matches in the co-ed U15 U18 divisions will be reported in Saipan Tribune’s Tuesday edition.