BELMOPAN, Mon. Jan. 29, 2018– Game 2, also known as the “return leg” of the two-game series of the quarterfinals of the Belmopan Football Association (BFA) Amateur First Division 2017/18 Opening Tournament continued inside the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan this past Friday night and Sunday afternoon, respectively.
On Friday night, fans were kept on the edge of their seats while witnessing two exciting games that went down to the wire. In the first game of the night, Club Atletico squared off against old rival Roaring Creek United. Game one of the series had ended 2-2 last week, and so it was a brand new ball game for both teams. With star midfielder Edmund Pandy, Jr. playing alongside the creative Alden Coleman in the middle, Roaring Creek established dominance in the midfield from the onset of the game, out-possessing Club Atletico. Unfortunately, Roaring Creek United had little to show with all that possession, unable to break down Club Atletico’s defense line, which was being commandeered by the Gillett brothers, Isaac and Richard, out of Carmelita, Orange Walk. Relying solely on counter attacks, Club Atletico’s speedy Tivi Ramos broke free in the 31st minute, and was successful in putting his name on the scoreboard, beating the young Brandon Anderson in goal for Roaring Creek United (RCU). The first half ended 1-0 in favor of Club Atletico. The line-up used by Roaring Creek in this game was not encouraging to the RCU fans, who didn’t hold back in voicing their concerns and disappointment to coach Edmund Pandy, Sr. at the half-time break.
Unfazed by the comments and suggestions, Coach Pandy, Sr. started the second half with the same line-up, which did not feature any natural striker in the forward positions. It wasn’t until the 53rd minute that Coach Pandy, Sr. inserted the smooth operator, Barrington Moro into the game to lead the attack up front; which, if it wasn’t for the timely interventions of Club Atletico’s goalkeeper, Orlando Galdamez, would have seen Roaring Creek on the scoreboard. Club Atletico held on to the 1-0 lead until the 68th minute, when last week’s hero, Richard Gillett took a low cruise missile from some forty plus yards out, that was just too hot for young Brandon Anderson to handle. Despite getting his body behind the ball, Anderson wasn’t able to take the steam out of the shot, and it trickled across the goal line for the 2-0 Club Atletico lead. Just like he did last week, stalwart defender Shane Armstrong stepped forward for Roaring Creek and powered home a header off a corner kick in the 73rd minute of play, to narrow the deficit to 2-1. Roaring Creek fought valiantly for the equalizer, but were continuously rejected by goalkeeper Galdamez, or turned back by the Gillett brothers and the Atletico defense line. The long whistle came, and just like that, the mighty Roaring Creek were ousted out of the playoffs in the first round. With the 2-1 victory, Club Atletico moves on the semifinals with an aggregate score of 4-3.
In the late game of the night, Cavetubing.Bz Strikers came into the match with a slim 2-1 goal margin over Las Flores FC. With their back against the wall, Las Flores FC came out very offensive minded, in search of an early goal to tie the series up. However, the Cavetubing defense stood firm, and were able to withstand the early wave of attacks spearheaded by Victor Caliz and Karlis Tello of Las Flores. Team leading scorer Gabriel Perez and the Cavetubing.Bz Strikers offense were not their usual selves on this night, as they were unable to settle down and organize a meaningful attack. Nonetheless, in the 38th minute, goalkeeper Placido Bol, in goal for Las Flores, mishandled a crossed ball which fell to a streaking Gabriel Perez, who wasted no time in smacking it home into an open goal for the 1-0 lead in favor of the Strikers, extending the aggregate score to 3-1. The first half ended with the score being unchanged.
A rejuvenated and composed Las Flores team came out of the half-time break believing in a comeback, and did just that as, in the 50th minute, Jose Rodriguez was able to power the equalizer home. Encouraged by the 1-1 score, Las Flores continued pushing forward, and six minutes later, Victor Caliz made no mistake after receiving the ball inside the eighteen yards box, and carefully picked out his corner, placing the ball into the back of the net and away from the outstretched arms of Vicente Bonilla, who was in goal for Cavetubing.Bz Strikers. The series was now tied up on aggregate, and we had a new-brand ball game on hand.
The Las Flores fans started believing in their team again, and urged them forward. Boosted by the energy their fans provided, Las Flores kept their feet to the pedal, and had Cavetubing.Bz on their heels, in search of goal number three. Unable to organize themselves, the Strikers began relying on counter attacks via the quick feet of Gabriel Perez. Perez was able to break free in one such attack, but was taken down by Las Flores’ last defender, Gabriel Banos. Cavetubing players demanded that Banos be shown a red card for the foul, as he was the last man, but referee Josue Rivera, Sr. disagreed and showed no card. An angry Enrique Castillo protested the no-card decision and was quickly silenced by referee Rivera, who cautioned him with a yellow card. A disappointed Castillo then walked away shaking his head, pointing to his temple on the side of his head as if signaling that the referee wasn’t thinking, while mumbling a few words. Referee Rivera, Sr. interpreted his action and words as dissent, and with no hesitation gave Castillo his walking papers, flashing him with a red card, reducing the Strikers down to 10 men. Referee Rivera signaled for the restart of play, but before this could happen, first assistant referee Gabriel Cerrato raised his flag and signaled for consultation with Rivera, Sr. After consulting with Cerrato in the presence of fourth official Juan Alas, central referee Josue Rivera, Sr. returned to the area where the foul was committed and signaled to Gabriel Banos to approach him, and issued him a red card for the foul committed against Gabriel Perez.
Both teams were now down to 10 men, which made the atmosphere inside the stadium very tense, but equally very exciting, as the final thirty minutes of play resumed. Both teams grew cautious in their attacks, signaling that this one would go down to penalty kicks. But in the 88th minute, the breakthrough came, and Las Flores struck for their third goal of the game, courtesy of Hugo Padilla. Las Flores celebrated jubilantly, as this result would see them through to the semifinal round and avoid the dreaded penalty kicks. It seemed all over for Cavetubing.Bz Strikers as two minutes later, fourth referee Juan Alas held up his number board signaling four minutes of injury time. Las Flores fans were celebrating as the clock approached the fourth minute of injury time…then the unthinkable happened in what was already an eventful and exciting game. Twenty-five yards out within their own half of the field, Las Flores FC committed a foul against Milton Hernandez of Cavetubing. On the restart, Hernandez delivered a long cross into the eighteen yards box which found the head of Juan Rodney, who headed past a diving Placido Bol, bringing the game to a 3-2 score and 4-4 on aggregate. The final whistle came immediately after the restart, and just like that, the second semifinalists would be decided from the penalty spot.
Despite displaying the comeback of the season so far, Las Flores FC’s luck ran out in the penalty shootout, losing 4-2. Converting for Cavetubing.Bz Strikers were Adony Acencios, Juan Rodney, Gabriel Perez and Milton Hernandez; whilst Edgar Galdamez and Karlis Tello scored for Las Flores, with Alberto Sibrian and Hugo Padilla missing their penalty kicks. Cavetubing.Bz Strikers returns to the semifinals for a second consecutive season.
On Sunday, the quarterfinals wrapped up with Coast Guard FC taking on a battered Camalote Westar Warriors, and in the second game of the evening a boisterous Valley United FC were forced to cool off a sizzling Wingz FC.
Already enjoying a 7-1 lead from the first game in the two-game series, Coast Guard FC were under no pressure, and fielded a weakened team against Camalote. Camalote Westar Warriors had a very good showing in the first half, threatening the Coast Guard goal on several occasions, but failing to score. Coast Guard, for its part, showed little cohesion, leaving little to talk about in the first half, which ended 0-0. After the half-time break, in typical Camalote fashion, the Westar Warriors broke down and started suffering from tired legs. This opened up the door for the guardians of our sea, who took full advantage, netting in three unanswered goals. Scorers for Coast Guard FC were Adgar Adderly in the 51st and 77th minutes, respectively; whilst super-sub Estevan Chiac closed off the scoring in the 82nd minute. With the 3-0 victory and 10-1 on aggregate score, Coast Guard FC cruises into the semifinals, where they will face off with the sole remaining City of Belmopan team in the tournament, Club Atletico. This matchup has all the qualities of a championship series, and we wish both teams the best of luck, as only one can make it to the finals.
In the second game of the evening, a confident Valley United experienced an early scare, going down 1-0 in the 17th minute by way of an own goal, courtesy of Alexander Lopez, who was under too much pressure from Wingz FC wingman Ryan Saravia, who forced Lopez to slide to intercept a crossing ball in front of goal, but instead of going out, the ball ricocheted and spun backwards over the head of goalkeeper Randy Dueck in goal for Valley United. With the 1-0 lead, Wingz FC had reduced the aggregate score to 2-1, and were now within striking distance of reeling in Valley United. Under the guidance of midfielder Rudy “Danny” Padilla, Wingz FC were able to organize several attacks towards the Valley United goal, but striker Brandon Peyrefitte lacked that finishing touch today. The first half ended 1-0.
In the second half, a settled Valley United took control of the game and commenced launching several attacks of its own, forcing Wingz FC goalkeeper Pernell Flowers to make several timely saves. The pressure became overwhelming for Wingz in the 52nd minute, when a determined Joshua Burns, who was doing an excellent job in defense, was forced to take down a streaking Emerson Orellana to stop a breakaway towards the Wingz goal.
Referee Juan Alas did not hesitate, and gave Burns his marching orders, showing him a direct red card. Reduced to 10 men, Wingz FC began struggling to keep up with the pace of the Valley United offense, and in the 59th minute, Emerson Orellana broke through the Wingz back line once again, and this time was able to put the tying goal past onrushing Pernell Flowers in goal for Wingz FC. With the game tied 1-1, and aggregate now showing a 3-1 margin, Valley United played smart and maintained discipline, out-possessing Wingz in the latter part of the second half. Despite their best efforts, Wingz FC were unsuccessful in mounting any further successful attacks against Valley United to narrow the aggregate score margin. Satisfied with the 1-1 draw, Valley United held on until the final whistle. The aggregate score of 3-1 sees them through to the semifinal round, where they will face Vitalino Reyes’ Cavetubing.BZ Strikers.
The games for the semifinals, all at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium, are as follows:
Tuesday, January 30
7:30 p.m. – Coast Guard FC vs Club Atletico
Wednesday, January 31
7:30 p.m. – Valley United FC vs Cavetubing.Bz Strikers
Saturday, February 3
6:00 p.m. – Cabetubing.Bz Strikers vs Valley United FC
8:00 p.m. – Club Atletico vs Coast Guard FC
IT’S NOT HOW BIG YOU ARE; IT’S HOW BIG YOU PLAY!