NMI U14 girls win and draws vs Guam
In a series of friendly matches between the Northern Marianas Football Association and the Guam Football Association, the NMI U14 girls won a game and settled for a draw in the other against Guam’s U14 girls last Saturday and Sunday at the Northern Mariana Islands Soccer Training Center in Koblerville.
Saturday morning’s island weather brought families of both teams out to the pitch to witness and support the first game between NMI’s U14 girls and Guam’s U14 girls, with the home team slipping past the visitors by a goal, 3-2.
NMI’s Alyssa Borlongan outsprinted her defender as she drew first blood in the 11th minute and not 10 minutes later, slipped past the goalie once more for an early 2-0 lead.
The younger Guam team, which consisted of mostly 12 year-olds or younger, were slightly overpowered on the field as the NMI girls cranked up the pressure to delay their first goal to the 26th minute of the second half—courtesy of Sunyul “Melody” Cho.
The NMI’s third goal was scored by Ye Lynn Ha in the 30th minute to give them a 3-1 lead, which proved enough to seal the win.
Guam’s Kathryn Ann Wong quickly retaliated in the 32nd minute for a close 3-2 game, but they were eventually silenced and in the end, settled for the loss.
In the second game day, the NMI girls almost emerged with a win, but they settled for a draw of 2-2 instead, as the last attempt at the goal by NMI’s Ye Lynn Han wasn’t counted due to it being scored offside—as she was past the last Guam defender.
Han scored the NMI’s two goals—one shy of completing her foiled hat-trick and tie-breaking attempt in the last minute of the game, while Meria Harmon and Kathryn Ann Wong scored the two goals for Guam.
After the game, Mae Ito, head coach for the NMI U14 team, said that it was a fun experience and a great opportunity to have had play experience against Guam and that they are hoping to continue this type of play—especially seeing that there hasn’t been much international competitions for girls in the U14 and U17 age group.
“The pandemic was also a very big challenge for us as well; Regardless, I feel this camaraderie between Guam and NMI will be a good platform for our U14 girls and boys now, especially when youth in both islands are very eager to really try to improve and develop our younger boys and girls, so that they could have a better idea of how it is to compete outside. So hopefully we can develop, improve, and grow from here,” said Ito.
Chyna Ramirez, head coach for Guam U14 Girls Academy, said that their team is a fairly young group consisting of 10-, 11-, and 12-year-olds, “but this group shows a lot of promise.”
This was the first time GFA had brought out a group this young to compete and Ramirez said that with the matches, it was a “great experience… The competition is great for them. It’s great to challenge players who are better than you or taller than you– who are stronger than you because internationally you’re always [going to] have that… So for them, if you can’t beat them in the air, beat them on the ground—be more technically sound, be a smarter player, understand principles.”
“This is a great start for women’s development for the next 10 years for Guam football, and we’re looking to continue this kind of relationship with the NMIFA and GFA so we can grow together in the Marianas and have football to be grown at a higher level– especially in women’s football,” added the 26-year-old former Guam National soccer player.
Lastly, Ramirez thanked NMIFA for hosting them, GFA for allowing them to bring the girls out, and her team of coaching staff who traveled to Saipan with her—coach Joe Roberto, media officer Jill Espiritu, coach Hannah Cruz, and coach Keleko Fejeran, along with coach Kiarra Hutcherson, who couldn’t make it Saipan, and two who are not coaches anymore but helped the team—Sakiko Ogura and Isabella Bass.
The Guam U14 team consists of Gabriella Edwards, Kahlan Hancock, Jady Elora Raval, Kelly Cho, Melody Cho, Elyse Concepcion, Fejera Cruz, Kirra Cruz, Marion Finney, Lilah-Reese Finona, Meria “Melu” Harmon, Chloe Laxamana, Aliana Meno, Gifty Merrill, Charlie Mesa, Julia Perez-Jackson, Aeva Sablan, and Kathryn Wong.
The NMI U14 team consists of Hailey Benavente, Aubrey White, Cassidee Flores, Ye Lynn Han, Taliana McClure, Kay Anne Costales, Angel Calayag, Elyza Brillo, Jade Pascual, Ellie Iglecias, Breannie Echalico, Rosie Saralu, Alyza De Belen, Alyssa Borlongan, Alana Hayes, Stacy Arriloa, Selena Atalig, Althea De Belen, Amber Than, and Vanessa Bayog.
Published by Saipan Tribune - Nov 29 2022