Sports — 02 December 2014
Down the home stretch in PLB race to playoffs

BELIZE CITY–We’re still waiting for the official report from the league secretariat, but we are confident of the final scores for the past weekend’s clashes in this very tight race to see which four teams will make the playoffs in the Premier League of Belize Opening Season 2014-2015.

BDF 1-0 Belmopan Bandits

There were two monster Saturday night encounters. Up north at the People’s Stadium, Belize Defence Force FC got a goal from sensational young striker Ambrose “Fubu” Thomas, and they made it stand up for the 1-nil win over defending champions Belmopan Bandits.

Police United 6-4 Wagiya

Meanwhile, out west at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium in Belmopan, it was real “football fireworks,” as home standing Police United prevailed in a high scoring 6-4 affair over visiting Wagiya from Dangriga. The damp, slippery field perhaps contributed to the many goals, but both teams also played attacking football, with nobody backing down or electing to go into “lock down” defensive mode, despite a number of lead changes. Though he did not score, Lennox “Criminal” Castillo was at his scintillating best in the Police attack, as was midfield/striker Harrison “Cafu” Roches, who netted 4 goals, the first, a header off a centering pass from Criminal, putting Police in front around just under half hour into the match. But Wagiya equalized through Abraham Chavez from the penalty spot a couple minutes before the intermission, as referee Rogelio Bennet made the call after Hassan Lucas shot on goal hit the arm of a Police defender.

The 1-1 halftime score was no indication of the deluge of goals that were to come later to thrill the anxious Police and Wagiya fans. A minute into second half, Wagiya was awarded another penalty under similar circumstances, and again Abraham Chavez converted against Jamie Brooks in goal for Police; 2-1, Wagiya in front.

Four minutes later, a shot from Cafu seemed to be easily covered by Wagiya goalie Ryna Seravia, but the ball bounced off his chest and into the goal; 2-2 ball game. Less than a minute later, Cafu struck again; and nine minutes later, it was Trevor “Burger” Lennen emerging from a scramble in front of goal to score what seemed the insurance goal to give Police a 4-2 lead.

But the young Wagiya squad showed no signs of letting down or giving up. Four minutes later, the unthinkable happened, Police sweeper Frank Lopez raised his hands high over his head, seeming to try and avoid the ball as a Wagiya attacker closed in; but instead the ball was kicked high and onto Lopez’ hand; another penalty. And, though Jamie managed to touch this one, Abraham Chavez made good again for Wagiya; 4-3 the score, and the victory still not secure for Police.

When Wagiya’s outstanding young midfield/striker Brandon Cacho unleashed a rocket from twenty-five yards into the left “pigeon hole,” it created shock waves among the Police faithfull, as it was a brand new ball game, 4-4, and playoff hopes in the balance.

Just 3 minutes later, Cafu struck a rebounding shot with another header to give Police the go-ahead goal; but they knew the 5-4 score would not be safe, and the intensity of game continued with the other young Wagiya attackers, Windell Trapp and Byron Chavez, searching for another equalizer. Meanwhile, Police was pushing for the insurance goal, but it wasn’t to come until near the end, when Danny Jimenez pounced on a breakaway opportunity and easily beat the oncoming Wagiya keeper, Francis Williams, who had replaced the injured Ryan Seravia, to allow Police to rest their case with a comfortable 6-4 lead till the long whistle.

Police is still not secure, though their playoff chances are now very good. Wagiya is not mathematically out of it yet either; and if they continue playing the way they did on Saturday night, fans can be assured of another exciting treat, and their opponents might not be so lucky.

Wagiya FC – #01 Ryan Seravia (goalkeeper; #00 Francis Williams 66’); #8 Hassan Lucas, #16 Maynard Nunez, #5 Marion Nicasio, #11 Abraham Chavez (#14 Melvin Valerio 45’), #6 David Trapp, #19 Kyle Valerio, #2 Richard Cacho, Jr., #7 Windell Trapp, #10 Byron Chavez, #9 Brandon Cacho. Coach – “Chilor” Wagner; Nelson Moss.

Police United FC – #01 Jamie Brooks (goalkeeper), #10 Harrison “Cafu” Roches, #9 Lennox “Criminal” Castillo (#3 Geon Makin 78’), #20 Danny Jimenez, #8 Marlon “El Matador” Meza, #17 Devon Makin, #5 Kishane “Grill” Pech, #12 Trevor “Burger” Lennen, #19 Byron Usher, #14 Andres Makin, Jr., #18 Frank Lopez. Coach – Andres Makin, Sr.; Amin August, Sr.

Paradise/Freedom Fighters 4-1 San Ignacio United

On Sunday, down in Punta Gorda, reports are that Paradise/Freedom Fighters served notice that they will be a force to reckon with the rest of the way, and into next season, as they followed their thrilling 5-3 loss to Police last week with a 4-1 drubbing of visiting San Ignacio United at the Toledo Union Field. Alexander “Pleck” Peters got a hat trick for Freedom Fighters.

Verdes 2-1 Placencia Texmar Assassins

And in another monster clash of the playoff hopefuls, a drizzly and cool afternoon at the Norman Broaster Stadium saw home squad Verdes FC win a hard battle, 2-1, against the tough Placencia Texmar Assassins. We couldn’t miss this one, and we were not disappointed. The field was damp at the start, and it drizzled intermittently during the match; but, thankfully, the Norman Broaster pitch is well covered with grass and doesn’t hold water, so the ball rolled, the players mostly held their footing, and the game “played.”

It was an evenly matched ball game, with both teams showing a fine mixture of youth and experienced players, Verdes winning the balance on the scale of youth, as the Assassins featured two seasoned veterans in midfield, Norman “Tilliman” Nunez and Robert Muschamp. But the veterans held their own, and the game would be decided by some spectacular goals. After a scoreless first half, Verdes gained the lead from a direct kick about 22 yards out, that captain Rodney Shamir Pacheco launched over the Assassins wall and under the crossbar to give the anxious Verdes something to cheer about at the 56th minute.

The intensity picked up, and perhaps it was getting too physical, and soon referee Irfan Basdemir called a takedown in the Verdes 18, and it was Luis “Baca” Torres calmly driving the penalty low into the left corner; 1-1 ball game at the 64th minute. But it was only 4 minutes later when Jarret Davis connected for the go-ahead Verdes goal, sending the Verdes fans into a frenzy, as they held on for the 2-1 victory.

Placencia Texmar Assassins – #01 Jesus Urbina (goalkeeper), #9 Ashley Torres (#71 Kendis Hernandez 65’), #17 Mario Villanueva, #11 Luis “Baaka” Torres (#6 Zerrick Torres 72’), #14 Kyle Flowers, #15 Arnie Whyte, #8 Kareem Haylock, #4 Robert Muschamp (#99 Gilbert Swaso 77’), #13 Glen “Tipu” Martinez, #7 Dellone Torres, #23 Norman “Tilliman” Pipersburgh. Coach – Hilberto “Hilly” Muschamp.

Verdes FC – #11 Benito Moreira (goalkeeper), #10 Jarret Davis, #7 Nahjib Guerra, #12 Eduardo Gongora (#13 Humberto Requena 71’ – red card 76’), #9 Gilroy “Bredda” Thurton (#34 Ryan Gill 82’), #8 Ricardo “Cheety” Jimenez, #24 Orlando “Leechi” Jimenez, #18 Victor Cruz, #19 Evral Trapp, #6 Rodney Shamir Pacheco, #30 Christobal Gilharry. Coach – Walter Salazar; Marvin Ottley.

Verdes is now poised at second place in the standings, with their playoff hopes almost secure; almost. That is because, as tight as this playoff race is, “any number can still play,” especially with dangerous teams like FC Belize and Paradise/Freedom Fighters who can no longer make the playoffs, but are quite capable of beating any of the top contenders.

The Assassins are also still very much in the playoff race, as are the Bandits, and Wagiya is not out yet either. A whole lot of football excitement remains before the playoffs even start.

(See standings below.)

Upcoming weekend schedule:

Saturday, December 6
7:30 p.m. – FC Belize vs Police United FC – People’s Stadium
7:30 p.m. – Belmopan Bandits FC vs Paradise/Freedom Fighters – Isidoro Beaton Stadium

Sunday, December 7
3:30 p.m. – San Ignacio United vs Placencia Texmar Assassins – Norman Broaster Stadium
4:00 p.m. – Wagiya FC vs Verdes FC – Carl Ramos Stadium

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