Lady Geckos claim MS soccer tiara
That’s a wrap for girls middle school soccer as the Saipan International School Geckos finally claimed the championship in the 2022-2023 NMIFA-PSS Interscholastic Soccer League after two years of settling for second in an intense finals showdown against the Hopwood Middle School Hilitais at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville last Thursday.
From the opening whistle, it was clear both teams were evenly matched as both lizards came out of the regular season with no losses—but with the speedy footwork of two Gecko sisters and exceptional defense of their goalie—they managed to clinch the championship with a final score of 2-0.
Both goals were scored by sisters Beatrice Gross (in the first half’s sixth minute) and Phoenix Gross (in the 43rd minute).
The Hilitais, throughout the game, fought hard with their team’s top scorers, Yelynn Ha and Alyssa Borlongan, relentlessly attacking the Geckos’ defenses and creating scoring opportunities.
However, it was the work of Geckos goalie Keylie Claveria that stopped a penalty kick from Ha and multiple attempts at the net as the Hilitais pushed to get on the scoreboard. With that, Claveria was handed the championship game’s MVP award.
Despite the loss, the Hilitais did not go home empty-handed as they won second place and Borlongan won the Golden Boot Award for the most goals of the season with 20.
The Geckos’ head coach April Liske-Clark said, “it’s awesome to finally walk away with first place and going undefeated for the season. We have a couple of 8th graders and everybody else is sixth and seventh so we’re hoping for another couple of good years.”
With their game against the Hilitais, Liske-Clark said, “Hopwood’s an amazing team, so we’re very lucky to come away with the win, but the girls worked really hard. They’re very closely matched and it was a really good game.”
The Geckos’ lineup consisted of the Gross sisters, Claveria, Faith Arriola, Eliza Culp, Reagan Gonzales, Anne Lee, Malia Rayphand, Aubrey White, and Sage Xu.
In the third place game earlier in the afternoon, the Tanapag Middle School Tatagas defeated the DanDan Middle School Tottots, 4-2. A total of six middle schools—including ChaCha Ocean View Middle School and Francisco M. Sablan Middle School and 83 players joined this season.
Published by Saipan Tribune - Mar 13 2023