Sports — 28 February 2018
Bandits still undefeated, Verdes struggling at Week 7 of PLB 2017-18 Closing Season

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Feb. 26, 2018– The 7-game first round of the double round-robin in the Premier League of Belize (PLB) 2017-2018 Closing Season is completed for each team; and while defending champion Verdes FC suffered their second loss, Belmopan Bandits SC remains the only undefeated team in the tournament, with their captain, Elroy Smith now also standing at the top of the goal scoring column. (See standings below.)

On Saturday night in Independence, Placencia Assassins FC fell behind early with an own goal, but recovered to post the 3-2 win over Freedom Fighters FC from Punta Gorda.  Freedom Fighters benefited from a 3rd minute own goal by Placencia’s Leonel Cabral (OG 3’); but the Assassins rebounded with 3 straight goals from Delone Torres (12’), Rollin Burgess, (30’) and Luis “Baaka” Torres (74’), before the Freedom Fighters managed to close the gap with a strike from Evan Mariano (76’).

Also on Saturday night, Belmopan Bandits SC remained undefeated, as they prevailed, 2-1, over visiting BDF FC at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium. BDF struck first through Shane “Chucky” Flores at the 27th minute; but the Bandits got the quick equalizer from Rony Flores (29’), to end first half with a 1-1 score. The game winner came from Bandits captain Elroy Smith at the 65th minute.

On Sunday at the Ambergris Stadium, coach Palmiro Salas and the San Pedro Pirates FC extended their winning streak to 4 games, when they cruised to a 3-1 victory over visiting Wagiya FC. Shaking the net for the Pirates were Mario Chimal (9’), Jesse Smith (46’) and Inri Gonzaga (60’); while rookie Jonard Castillo (78’) got the lone goal for Wagiya.

Meanwhile, at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan, defending champion Verdes FC suffered their second loss of the tournament, as home standing Police United FC secured the 2-1 win in a game that saw own goals scored on both sides. Verdes defender Brandon Jones’ own goal (OG 15’) at the 15th minute gave Police the 1-nil lead. Captain Andres Makin increased the lead to 2-nil at the 60th minute; before Police defender Christobal Gilharry also conceded an own goal in injury time (OG 92’) to save Verdes from the shutout.

Verdes has been missing the attacking genius of the injured Gilroy “Bredda” Thurton (broken hand); and also their coach, Marvin Ottley, is reportedly serving a 4-game suspension, which began with Week 7.

The Bandits are on a roll. Overtaking them, in the aggregate points race seems unlikely. (See aggregate standings below.) It seems the berth at CONCACAF will go to either Bandits or Verdes. If Bandits wins the Closing Season, they go. If not, the spot will most likely belong to Verdes.

Upcoming Week 8 schedule:
Saturday, March 3
8:00 p.m. – Belmopan Bandits SC vs Placencia Assassins FC – Isidoro Beaton Stadium
Sunday, March 4
4:00 p.m. – Wagiya FC vs Verdes FC – Carl Ramos Stadium
4:00 p.m. – Freedom Fighters FC vs BDF FC – Victor Sanchez Union Field
5:00 p.m. – Police United FC vs San Pedro Pirates FC – Isidoro Beaton Stadium

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Deshawn Swasey

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