Sports — 16 February 2012
The National Secondary Schools Sports Association (NSSSA) held its national football tournament on Friday and Saturday, February 10-11, at the MCC Grounds in Belize City, hosted by Nazarene High School. Games were 20 – 20 for the girls, with a 5-minute intermission; while the boys played 30 – 30 with 10 minutes of half-time break. The tournament followed a simple knockout format.
Teams represented the four country zones – North, Central, West and South, in both female and male. Participating schools, who were vying for the chance to represent Belize at the CODICADER Games in Panama later in the year, were:
NORTH: Females (F) – Orange Walk Technical High (OWTH); Males (M) – Escuela Secundaria Tecnica Mexico (ESTM).
CENTRAL: Female (F) – Gwen Lizarraga High School (GLHS); Male (M) – Gwen Lizarraga High School (GLHS).
WEST: Female (F) – Sacred Heart College (SHC); Male (M) – Mopan Technical High School (MTHS).
SOUTH: Female (F) – Independence High School (IHS); Male (M) – Stann Creek Ecumenical College (SCEC).
In game 1 on Friday, (F) OWTH defeated SHC, 3-1, in penalties, after they drew 0-0 in regulation and overtime. Yanira Chan, Pamela Bol and Maritza Briceno converted for OWTH, while Sabrina Brooks scored for SHC.
Game 2 saw (M) MTHS blast ESTM, 4-1, with goals from Dennis Pinelo (2), Byron Manzanero and Edgar Penados. ESTM’s lone goal was by Eliazar Itza.
In game 3, (F) GLHS jumped to an early 1-0 lead on a goal from Deandra “Didi” Coote, but IHS bounced back to win, 2-1, with 2 goals from Zepeda Leniman.
It was a similar situation in game 4, where (M) GLHS led 2-nil on goals brom Marvin Sosa and Akeem Jones, before SCEC came roaring back to win, 3-2, with 2 goals from Brandon Cacho and another from Kris Sanchez.
Action on Saturday morning got under way with the third place matches in both female and male, followed by the championship games.
In the female 3rd place match, Sacred Heart College shut out Gwen Liz, 2-0, on goals from Dayena Villanueva and a penalty by Sabrina Brooks. And in the male 3rd place game, Gwen Liz fell again, this time to Escuela Secundaria Tecnica Mexico by a 4-0 score. ESTM got 2 goals from Eliazar Itza and 1 apiece from Jeffery Loria and Narciso Pott.
The female finals between Independence High School of Independence Village, Stann Creek District, and Orange Walk Technical High was scoreless in regulation and overtime; and in the ensuing penalty shootout, Independence High prevailed, 3-1, with scores from Brenda Alvarado, Kelsey Polanco and Erica Vallecillo, to claim the victory. O.W. Tech’s only score was by Cecilia Chuallo. Independence High School is therefore the 2011-2012 NSSSA Female Football Champion.
In the much anticipated male championship game, Stann Creek Ecumenical College fell behind early again, this time on a 3rd minute goal by Byron Manzanero of Mopan Technical High School in Benque Viejo. It was a very competitive match, but there was to be no come back this time for the boys from Stann Creek, as a poorly set wall on a second half free kick, allowed Mopan Tech’s captain and sweeper Sanleobardo Mendez to drive a perfect shot through the open space on the left side of the wall and into the net to secure the 2-nil victory for Mopan Tech. Mopan Technical High School is therefore the 2011-2012 NSSSA Male Football Champion.
Female MVP of the tournament was Kelsey Polanco of Independence High School; and Male MVP was Byron Manzanero of Mopan Technical High School.
The post-game award ceremonies were cancelled due to a melee that erupted between players of the opposing teams immediately following the long whistle of the male championship game. Thankfully, cooler heads intervened and order was quickly restored before any serious injury was sustained.
In a press release today, Monday, the NSSSA executive promised that its officials and Ethics Committee members will “conduct a thorough investigation,” after which “parties and persons found responsible will be dealt with to the full extent as stipulated in the NSSSEC guidelines.”