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Perfect SIS blanks HMS 1 for boys title

The perfect Saipan International School Geckos blanked Hopwood Middle School Hilitais, 4-0, in the finals to win the championship of the 2023-2024 NMIFA-PSS Interscholastic Boys Middle School Soccer League last Thursday at the NMI Soccer Training Center in Koblerville.

The onslaught of goals didn’t come until the second half as the Geckos finally found their stride and broke down the Hilitais’ defenses.

While the first half was a quiet one for both teams, the second half for the Geckos was anything but. Taiga Namai-Scoggins found an opening and started the flood of goals for SIS as he scored in the 28th minute.

HMS tried to fend them off and get on board but SIS kept the momentum going along with their tight-knit defense. As a result, HMS were still scoreless while Jebro Leon made it 2-nil in the 43rd minute.

HMS couldn’t even get a breather when Leon rushed the goal and found another opening to quickly make it 3-0 just three minutes later. Then, towards the end of regulation, Landon Springer scored their last goal in the 50th minute for a huge 4-0 lead—which eventually became the final score.

Namai-Scoggins and Springer led the season with their 14 goals apiece and won the Golden Boot Award, while Springer won the most valuable player award for his skill, efficiency, and consistency on the pitch.

With Namai-Scoggins, Springer, and Leon on SIS’ roster were Bentley Castro, JinHyun Choi, William Guo, Wilson Guo, Matthew Hwang, Quido Jambor, Theo Joab, Yutaro Kitagawa, Dean Newman, Landon Pudney, Jude Rayphand, and Keoni Ruszala.

After the finals, SIS coach Casey Chambers said that the season was great. Last season, they were the runner up against a strong Tanapag Middle School team, but this season, they bounced back with an undefeated record.

About their game against HMS, he said, “We knew that their keeper likes to send the long ball, so I let the defense be very aware of that. Also with attacking, we sent a lot of cross plays because with the height like with Springer.”

As for how the explosion of goals came toward the last minutes of the game, he said, “I could tell that Hopwood was slowing a little bit down, and we needed to pump it up, so eventually we got the four goals in and it made us happy.”

He said that the majority of the SIS team are promoting to high school, but that “the seventh and sixth graders are still really good so I’m excited to see what’s going to happen next year.”

On the difference of their team this season compared to last, Chambers said that they knew how it was like to lose in the final stage. “I could just tell that they wanted to win this year and they remembered what happened, so they were just like, ‘alright, let’s win it,’” he said.

Springer, on winning both the MVP and Golden Boot award, said, “This is surprising. I didn’t expect myself to achieve this, but I owe it all to my team, I wouldn’t have gotten it without them.”

With their game, he said that it was nerve-racking in the beginning but as the game went on, he got used to it and kept his focus. The 14-year-old said that as he scored the last goal, he felt happy. “I felt a lot of pressure at the moment but I was able to execute,” he said.

Earlier in the third-place game, Mount Carmel School Knights defeated Francisco M. Sablan Middle School, 3-1.

Published by Saipan Tribune - May 6, 2024


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