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Lady Dolphins hold off Lady Geckos for soccer tiara

The Marianas High School Lady Dolphins defeated the Saipan International School Lady Geckos in a nail-biter finale of the 2023 NMIFA-PSS Interscholastic Soccer League.

Lady Dolphins goalie Erish Carreon single-handedly shut down the SIS’ lead striker in their fight to the finish as MHS came out on top, 2-0, last Thursday at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville last Thursday,

With SIS star striker Andrei Kaithlyn Chavez leading the charge and with MHS full of national soccer team players, the game could go either way as both teams were evenly matched.

Marianas High School’s goalie and finals MVP Erish Carreon staves off a goal attempt by Saipan International School during the first half of their championship game in the 2023 NMIFA-PSS Interscholastic Soccer League last Thursday at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville. (LEIGH GASES)

From the starting whistle, the Lady Geckos led by Chavez came out firing on all cylinders. She found herself with the ball early on but also quickly found herself surrounded by Lady Dolphins who would not let her have clear shots at the net.

Carreon was tested from the get-go and immediately made a couple of saves off attempts by Chavez. Carreon was assisted by her defenders’ agile and strong defense as their strikers have yet to find the net with the clock winding down the first half.

MHS’ Jannah Casarino then found an opening but SIS goalie, Hoo Wang came up with a great save to keep the score tied nothing to nothing.

When SIS found themselves with the ball, Chavez was still heavily defended as she had to make emergency kicks at the net with MHS putting the pressure on her—resulting in missed goals and saves by Carreon.

Defense for both teams remained strong in the first half with still nothing to show for on the scoreboard as time wound down.

The start of the second half gave the Lady Dolphins a renewed vigor on their offense as they maintained possession of the ball more often than the first half. Chavez, on the other hand, still made attempts at the net but Carreon had not failed keeping the ball from entering. Three more kicks by Chavez would have been goals—but with Carreon defending—it came out to nought.

Then, the Lady Dolphins got a break as after five minutes of mainly Lady Geckos possession, they found themselves pushing through SIS defenders, getting closer to the net—and with one kick by Casarino in the 33rd minute, made it a 1-0 game.

Chavez had not given up and made herself as open as she could. She received a few assists but the end was always Carreon making a save.

It was back and forth as both teams tried to push through the other side of the pitch in MHS’ effort to put up an insurance goal—and for SIS to tie it up—but both goalies remained steadfast in their positions.

Despite facing wave after wave of Lady Geckos’ attacks, Carreon stood firm—denying them a chance to score with each attempt. Chavez, who had produced the most goals of the season, found herself shut down by the impressive display of goalkeeping by Carreon.

As the clock ticked down, the Lady Geckos threw everything they had at the Lady Dolphins, but MHS’ defense held firm. To add insult to injury, MHS scored a goal in the dying moments of the game through a fine finish by Allyssya Angeles off an assist by Casarino.

Deservedly, Carreon won the game’s MVP award; the Golden Boot Award—given to the player with the most goals this season—went to Chavez with 15.

MHS librarian and soccer coach, Natalie Hill-Byer said, as was obvious in the game, that their strategy was to block off SIS’ leading scorer Chavez, and it paid off. “The game was pretty nerve-racking… our strategy was really to shut down their goal maker who is a phenomenal soccer player… and it seemed to work in our favor.”

On her goalie, she said “our goalie was phenomenal. I was so excited every time she touched the ball. It’s funny because she was kind of pressured to play because she was feeling unsure and wanted a break from soccer, but she changed her mind.”

MHS counselor and co-coach Gabi Race said “it’s awesome coaching with coach Nat… the game was stressful. I was on the sidelines freaking out on every play, but I think the girls really held it together.”

The MHS team has four seniors—Angeles, Casarino, Pyper Liske-Clarke, and Tyana Kileleman-Hix. The rest of the team include Carreon, Alana Hayes, Chris Hmaro, Tamia Kileleman-Hix, Vianca Mangulabnan, Rizza Relucio, Marielle Lopez, and Jacqulene, Vaniqa, and Tiana Torres.

SIS was made up of Chavez, Woo, Aubrey and Audrey Castro, Julie Chavez, Serin and Irin Chung, Erky Clavin, Mimi Culp, Steph Kim, Parveen Ming, Libbie Tom, and Claire Park.

Third place went to Saipan Southern High School after they lost to SIS, 7-2, in the third place match last Tuesday.

Published by Saipan Tribune - May 15 2023


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