Unbeaten MPU bags U18 title

MP United Football Club, right, and TanHoldings players engage in a footrace as they go after the ball during the second half of their boys U18 division game in the 2018 NMIFA Spring Youth League last Saturday at the Hopwood Middle School Field. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

MP United Football Club kept its undefeated record intact en route to ruling the boys U18 division of the 2018 NMIFA Spring Youth League.

MP United completed the double-round robin contest with a 7-1-0 win-draw-loss record following a 3-1 victory over rival TanHoldings FC last Saturday at the Hopwood Middle School Field. Anthony Fruit, Sunjoon Tenorio, and Joshua Abragan scored in MP United’s title-deciding win, while Taka Borja made the lone goals for TanHoldings.

Going into the final weekend of the league, TanHoldings, which then held a 5-1-1 mark, needed a win against MP United to force a playoff for the division championship. An early goal from Borja in the 11th minute boosted TanHoldings’ chances for a tiebreaker and the team kept the shaky lead at the break, as MP United failed to cash in on its repeated attempts.

When the game resumed, TanHoldings continued to frustrate MP United until a pivotal hand ball call against the former allowed the latter to score and gain momentum. Dai Podziewski let go off a kick from left center and the ball hit the arm of one of TanHoldings defenders. Fruit took the penalty kick and converted the straight lower right shot, as TanHoldings goalie John Bucayo reached in, but could not make the save.

The time when Fruit hit the penalty kick was not recorded, along with the shots of Tenorio and Abragan, but they came past the halfway mark of the 40-minute second half. Tenorio put MP United on top, 2-1, when he went for a follow-up from right center after Bucayo deflected his first shot from left center. Abragan, on the other hand, took only one attempt, as he sneaked past his defender from left mid and released the shot just before TanHoldings left center defender moved in.

After the sorry loss, TanHoldings had a sort of consolation, as Borja’s shot brought the team’s total goals for this season to 37—the most by any team in the division. MP United had the second best with 36, but gave up the least (4). The rest of the teams in the U18 age group yielded 11 or more goals this season.

Meanwhile, Matansa closed out its campaign in the division on a positive note after beating Kanoa, 2-0.

Joshua Deleon knocked in the pair of goals for Matansa, which finished the competition with a 3-2-3 record for third place. Kanoa dropped to fourth with its 3-0-5 mark, while National Development Team finished last after losing all its eight games this season.

In other results last Saturday, MP United outlasted Southern United, 2-1, to finish third in the girls U15 division.

The consolation match at the Francisco M. Sablan Middle School Field went the distance as the game was in a standoff after the regulation, 1-1. Fiona Bucalig scored for MP United in the 74th minute, while Haidee Manibusan nailed the equalizer for Southern United in the first minute of the injury time.

A goal from Audrey Castro in the 82nd minute finally ended the tie and handed MP United the third place finish.

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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