Sports — 11 April 2018
Leechi clinches for Police; Top-4 teams set for PLB playoffs

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Apr. 9, 2018– The hottest race to the playoffs in recent memory was finally decided yesterday in Week 13 games of the Premier League of Belize (PLB) 2017-2018 Closing Season, where Freedom Fighters stopped the San Pedro Pirates in P.G., to effectively knock both of them out of playoff contention, since Police United got a goal in injury time from veteran star Orlando “Leechi” Jimenez, to clinch the 1-nil victory over BDF FC and secure their spot in the playoffs. With the San Pedro loss, a draw would have still given Police a playoff spot due to their edge in goal difference over both Freedom Fighters and San Pedro Pirates, should either win their remaining Week 14 game.

In the only Saturday night game, in Independence, visiting Wagiya FC maintained their hot streak to drop home standing Placencia Assassins, 4-1, with goals from Byron Chavez (7’), Shanty Castillo (38’) and new goal scoring leader Jonard Castillo (44’ & 86’); while Elmore Godoy (60’) got the lone goal for the Assassins.

On Sunday, at the Victor Sanchez Union Field in Punta Gorda, the surging Freedom Fighters FC proved that they are for real and looking ahead to next season, when they stopped visiting San Pedro Pirates FC, 2-1, with goals from Alexander “Pleck” Peters (44’) and Zidane Hines (91’). Gabriel Chavez (47’) scored for San Pedro, whose playoff hopes were dashed with the loss.

Meanwhile, in a game that was all about bragging rights, and setting the tone for their possible clash in the finals, home standing Verdes FC was held to a 1-1 draw by league leading Belmopan Bandits SC. Verdes jumped to a quick 1-nil lead at the 2nd minute, when Jarret Davis drove the left line and centered on the ground for young Krisean Lopez to unleash a right-away left foot blast from just inside the eighteen that tightened the net to the right of Shane Orio in goal for the Bandits. Georgie Welcome returned the compliment to Verdes when he eluded sweeper Everal Trapp on the right sideline and travelled all the way to the goal line ten yards from goal, before serving a grounder across the open space in front of goal, where an advancing Rony Flores easily converted for the 1-1 equalizer at the 25th minute. The game lost some of its luster after Bandits’ stopper Rilwaan Salawu was ejected 15 minutes into second half; and though Verdes dominated play for much of the game, especially after the insertion of the scintillating Gilroy “Bredda” Thurton, who entered at the 70th minute, and only a minute later unleased a blast from the right side that required Orio to make the save of the game, as he pushed off near the top left corner what would have been a spectacular goal to mark Bredda’s return to action. Despite the one man advantage, Verdes could not secure the game winner, and it ended, 1-1.

In the other Sunday game, Police United FC and BDF FC were scoreless at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium until deep into injury time (and they didn’t yet know of results in P.G.), when the veteran Orlando “Leechi” Jimenez (95’) clinched the 1-nil game winner for Police, who join BDF, Verdes and the Bandits in this year’s PLB playoffs.

Regardless to the outcome of Week 14 games to end regular season, Belmopan Bandits SC will be seeded #1 and Verdes FC will be #2; so they cannot meet in the semifinals. (See standings below.) Their respective opponents in the semifinals will be determined by the outcomes in Week 14 games.

Week 14 schedule:
Sunday, April 15
4:00 p.m. – BDF FC vs Belmopan Bandits SC – MCC Grounds
4:00 p.m. – Verdes FC vs Police United FC – Norman Broaster Stadium
4:00 p.m. – Wagiya FC vs San Pedro Pirates FC – Carl Ramos Stadium
4:00 p.m. – Freedom Fighters FC vs Placencia Assassins FC – Victor Sanchez Union Field

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Deshawn Swasey

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