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NMI Women’s National Team nips Guam

GUAM—The NMI Women’s National Team is heading home victorious after nosing out Guam, 1-0, in their friendly match last rainy Tuesday night at the Guam Football Association National Training Center.

Jannah Casarino scored the winning goal early in the second half for her second goal in the series of friendlies. The forward also hit the board in the NMI Women’s U18 Team’s 4-0 triumph over Guam last Saturday.

For the second goal, Casarino, again outsprinted her defender after receiving a forward pass from defender Pia Ngewakl. Casarino continued to dribble toward the right penalty area before unloading a cross. Guam goalie Kiarra Hutcherson leapt to reach for the ball, but failed to get the save as the leather dropped and rolled in, giving the NMI the goal.

Casarino, after the win, said she was surprised with the goal because her intension was to swing a cross to teammate Tamia Hix.

“Actually, the shot was supposed to be for Tamia off my cross pass. But I kicked it with my left so it curved into the goal with some help from the wind,” said Casarino.

It was a cold and windy night at the GFA pitch, as it rained hard midway through the first half, which saw both teams having multiple chances to score with the NMI and Guam players trying to close out strong knowing that it’s their women’s teams’ last friendly for this series.

In the end, the NMI prevailed, as the visiting team stayed with the game plan, which focused on pushing the ball hard, releasing the ball early, and showing composure on team and individual defense no matter how many attempts Guam takes.

Special credit goes to defender Gabrielle Race, whose name was called out by his teammates after each save, as she was everywhere kicking the ball out, deflecting entry passes, and putting up a body on Guam players.

“I did not have a very good game last time (scoreless draw last Sunday), so I was a bit disappointed and wanted to come out and play better. I know my teammates and coaches are counting on me on defense, so I did that for them so we can accomplish one of our goals, which is to win,” said Race, who suited up for the NMI Women’s National Team after coming off a hip injury.

“It was an incredible win and thanks to the efforts of everyone on the team. We all worked hard for this victory, we focused on what needed to be done and we did it. Every time we win against Guam in any sport, we always have that great feeling,” Race added.

NMI Women’s National Team coach Angie Ito was very pleased with the results, as their players managed to win under a very challenging weather condition and delivered in front of some NMI fans, who flew in to support them, including Northern Mariana Islands Football Association president Jerry Tan

“Although it was wet and cold that night, the ladies pulled through and continued to work hard. Overall, every player played strong and played for each other and for the team. The victory was for them to have confidence in themselves and in their teammates. They followed the game plan and executed them,” said Ito.

Meanwhile, the NMI Men’s National Team led Guam on two occasions before falling short in the end, as the hosts escaped with a 3-2 victory.

Tanapon Unsa put the NMI on the board with less than 10 minutes into the game before a goal off Jason Cunliffe’s free kick tied the match, 1-all. The visiting team got the upper hand back when Mareko Tekopua scored late in the first half.

However, in the second half, the Matao captain Cunliffe carried Guam on his shoulders, as he nailed a pair in the period, including the go-ahead header off NMI goalie Chris Aninzo.

Despite falling short in the game, NMI coach Michiteru Mita praised their players for the progress they’ve been making since Day 1 of the training camp.

“We’re getting there, doing what we’re supposed to do to keep up with the intensity of Guam’s game. Just keep your focus and continue training and the results we desire will come in later,” Mita said at the dugout after the tough loss. The men’s team is done with their friendlies, while the U20 crew was scheduled to play against Guam last night after the women’s U18 match.

Published by Saipan Tribune - Feb 24 2022


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