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NMI U18 slips past Eleven Tiger in soccer semifinals

THE NMI U18 squad are one step closer to reaching the championship round of the Marianas Soccer League after surviving Eleven Tiger, 2-1, Sunday at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville.

It seemed as if a championship match was already being played as both teams gave it their all.

NMI U18 was the first to grasp the lead as they drew first blood early in the first half. They managed to set the tone in the first five minutes of the game thanks to their speed which quickly overwhelmed Eleven Tiger and created an opening for NMI U18’s Oliver Fajardo to execute the finish and give his team a 1-0 lead.

NMI U18 continued to keep the possession as they used long overhead passes to get past the defense and gain a handful of shot attempts. But fortunately for Eleven Tiger, their goalie, John Bucayo, prevented NMI U18 from widening their lead.

After over 30 minutes of play, Eleven Tiger's offensive efforts were finally rewarded. Although they did not have speed, they played smarter, using NMI U18's aggressiveness to their advantage as they turned defense into offense and caught their opponents off-guard with a mid-range pass to find Raymond Mercado for the finish at the 33rd minute mark to even the score 1-1.

Despite Eleven Tiger's fighting spirit, NMI U18 managed to regain the upper hand just 10 minutes later. The team stuck to their strategy of cross-field passes to stay ahead. Once deep inside enemy territory, they unleashed their strikers led by Brian Lubao who eventually found the back of the net to give his team a 2-1 lead.

Defense highlighted the second half as neither team was able to find a clear shot. A few close calls were made but in the end, no goals were scored and NMI U18 secured the win and their spot in the championship round.

Tan Holdings vs Paire

Tan Holdings Football Club is the other team that will vie for the championship title after besting Paire Football Club 2-0 in the other semifinal match on Sunday.

It was a fairly even match as neither team could grasp control in the first half. However, in the second half, Tan Holdings’ persistency allowed Michiteru Mita to break the silence by scoring the first goal of the night.

Team mate Rakib Hassan joined the party with another goal to widen Tan Holdings’ lead.

Paire tried their best to catch up but were unable to score. Tan Holdings won, 2-0.

The championship match between NMI U18 and Tan Holdings will be held on Dec. 12 at 6 p.m. at the NMI Soccer Training Center.

Published by Marianas Variety - Dec 8, 2021


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