BELIZE CITY, Sat. Dec. 24, 2016–The amazing undefeated streak by defending Premier League of Belize (PLB) champions, Belmopan Bandits SC was finally broken on Saturday night, Christmas Eve, at the rain-soaked MCC Grounds in Belize City, where home standing Belize Defense Force FC used their all-terrain muscle and a brilliant second-half strike by rookie Trimayne Harris to secure a 1-nil victory over the Bandits in game 1 of the PLB Opening Season 2016-2017 Finals.
Though BDF displayed what appeared to be a 3-striker attack – Darrol Lambey, Trimayne Harris and Michael Myvette – kicking into the northern goal, to start the game, it was the visiting Bandits who made a couple serious early threats at the southern BDF goal – a long-range missile by top goal scorer Jairo Roches that tested BDF goalie Tevin Gamboa at the 2nd minute, and five minutes later a dangerous grounder from the left side by Bandits midfielder Jerome “Jarro” James that drained just wide of the right goalpost. But it was BDF that got the golden opportunity, a penalty at the 14th minute. To the Bandits’ relief, the normally sure footed Vallan Symms sent his grounder just wide to the left, although Bandits goalkeeper Shane Moody Orio had been caught going right. The rain came down hard shortly afterwards, and it remained scoreless through the rest of first half, despite a few more thrills on both ends.
There was BDF striker #6 Trimayne Harris unleashing a close range shot from the right side at the 19th minute, that was blocked by Shane; and 6 minutes later at the other end, there was a monster block of Bandits’ #16 Jordy Polanco’s attempted shot by BDF #4 Orland Trapp, that sent the ball screaming forty feet into the air. And at the 41st minute, BDF’s Darrol Lambey changed direction from right to left, and fired, a left foot cannon towards the top right corner from 30 yards out, but a diving Shane got there in time to push it off.
The Bandits upped the ante in second half, with the insertion of veteran striker Marlon “El Matador” Meza to replace rookie Ajani Banner, who had started in place of injured Brazilian striker Aloisio Teixeira. (Reports are that Teixeira will be ready for this coming Saturday.) But the story of the second half was the absolutely brilliant goal by young Trimayne Harris, that gave BDF the 1-goal advantage, which they defended the rest of the way. The rain persisted during much of second half, but eased enough for a few minutes, to allow most fans to be alert for what was certainly a goal to remember.
Considered a shoo-in for the Golden Glove this season, Shane has not only been absolutely stingy between the sticks, but his astute reading of the game has empowered him to commandeer the whole of his eighteen, frustrating quite a number of attacks even before the ball entered the eighteen. Finding space around his imposing six-foot two-inch torso is hard enough, but Shane has also proven that he still has sharp reflexes and cat-like spring in those veteran legs.
After the game, an elated Trimayne Harris recounted that he had met Shane twice during the regular season, and he was stopped each time. And again in first half, Shane craftily advanced on the oncoming youngster, and effectively blocked his powerful shot at goal. But at the 19th minute of second half (64’), after receiving a pass with one touch down the middle about 10 yards outside the Bandits’ eighteen, Trimayne was just about to unleash his right foot shot at goal when, at the last moment he observed the towering figure of Shane blocking his way near the top of the eighteen. With defenders recovering fast, and water puddles making it unwise to attempt further dribbles on the muddy turf, the young striker altered the trajectory of his kick at the last moment, and instead scooped a soft lob over the head and outstretched arms of Shane. The Stadium was spellbound, as the ball gently sailed on its way toward the open goal, with Shane watching in disbelief as it approached the crossbar, and dived just beneath to be caressed by the waiting net, as the nearby ragamuffin bleachers erupted in ecstatic celebration. Goooaaalll!!
The rest of the game was intense, as expected, with both teams going to their benches, but the BDF defense held on, with a number of spectacular defensive plays from left defender Orland Trapp. Of note for BDF was the loss due to injury of Osmar Duran about half hour into second half. His absence could be critical in Game 2. In the waning moments, Bandits’ left midfielder #21 Humberto Requena unleased a rocket, but it was successfully pushed off by BDF goalie Tevin Gamboa.
After 4 long minutes of added time, referee Juan Alas from Cayo finally blew the long whistle; 1-nil, BDF. Game 2 for “all the marbles” is this Saturday at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium.
BDF FC: Goal – Trimayne Harris at 64’. Team – goalkeeper #1 Tevin Gamboa; captain #3 Vallan Symms; #13 Clayton Fitzgibbon (#5 Keithon Dyer at 86’); #4 Orland Trapp; #15 Leon Cadle; #19 Jeremy Gentle; #2 Raymond Ramos; #10 Osmar Duran (#17 Kyle Budna at 77’); #11 Darrol Lambey; #6 Trimayne Harris; #16 Michael Myvette (#9 Shane Flores at 68’).Coach-Jerome Serano.
Belmopan Bandits SC: Team – goalkeeper #1 Shane Orio; captain #8 Elroy Smith; #23 Tyrone Pandy; #7 Ian Gaynair; #11 Khalil Velasquez; #24 Denmark Casey, Jr.; #21 Humberto Requena; #16 Jordy Polanco; #15 Jerome James (#13 Frank Lopez at 70’) ; #9 Jairo Rochez; #20 Ajani Banner (#10 Marlon Meza at half-time). Coach-Kent Gabourel. Referee-Juan Alas (Cayo).