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Police are champions

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Dec. 28, 2015–Police United held defending champions Verdes FC to a nil-nil draw yesterday at the FFB Stadium in Belmopan, which was all the Police squad needed, having won game 1 a week ago by a 1-nil margin, to clinch the championship of the Premier League of Belize 2015-2016 Opening Season.

The veteran Orlando “Leechi” Jimenez came off the bench in second half again for Police, after a nil-nil first half draw (Police had won game 1 by a 1-nil margin, courtesy of a goal by Leechi); but no goal was scored this time, although Leechi made his presence felt and created some anxious moments for the Verdes defense. But no goals were necessary for Police, as their iron clad defense, spear headed by the athletic phenomenon Trevor “Burger” Lennen, whose stopper role encompasses a swath of midfield, denied the Verdes stalwarts, including goal scoring king Deon McCaulay and last season’s playoff hero Jarret Davis, as well as dribbling magician Gilroy “Bredda” Thurton, and kept them scoreless for ninety minutes of regulation, until referee Christopher Reid signaled the end with his whistle, and the Police United celebration began.

It was a “helluva” ball game, with Verdes’ coaching staff, including head coach Walter Salazar, and assistant Marvin Ottley, trying a range of tactics to try and pierce through the impregnable wall of the Police defense. For speed, tenacity, resiliency, athleticism, cohesion and resolve, the Police defense was absolutely on top of their game; and it was never more clearly demonstrated than early in first half, when an all-out Verdes attacking thrust found a consecutive series of shot attempts repelled and rejected repeatedly by one after another of the covering defensive unit of the Police team. And although Leechi almost forced the hand of the awards committee when he came close to tallying another game winning goal in a few minutes of action, it was the towering figure of Trevor “Burger” Lennen intimidating and dominating action in the central area of midfield that was the outstanding feature of a Police team that featured a wealth of young as well as seasoned talent. And in the end, it was that defense that succeeded in shutting out the defending champs twice in a row, to seal the championship on the strength of the lone goal by Leechi in game 1.

The motto of the Police team going into the finals was hard work; and though Leechi was spectacularly efficient in his few strategic minutes, getting the needed goal for the team to defend, and it was hard not to pick him as the Playoff MVP; it was just as hard not to give the accolade to Burger, who played two awesome games in the finals and was instrumental in unseating the champions. As good as the Police defense is, the Verdes attacking force is not to be taken lightly, despite the apparent injury to Deon McCaulay; and when Verdes can throw McCaulay (he did not start, but came in at halftime on Sunday), Jarret Davis, Bredda Thurton and the Brazilian Yoras Silva at you for consecutive nineties, and cannot get a goal; it must have something to do with the almost extra body that Burger provides for the Police team by covering immense spaces with his long strides in defense and in midfield, while still being agile enough to match the twists and turns of his smaller opponents. And to do that for a full ninety minutes is impressive indeed.

Verdes FC: #22 Yusef Guerra (goalkeeper); #30 Chris Gilharry; #18 Victor Cruz; #26 Willian Nascimento; #6 Rodney Shamir Pacheco (#25 Yoras Silva at 55’); #8 Ricardo “Cheety” Jimenez; #3 San Mendez; #17 Jamil Cano (#9 Deon McCaulay at halftime 45’); #7 Nahjib Guerra; #10 Jarret Davis (#21 Delroy “Tin Man” Andrews at 75’) ; #24 Gilroy “Bredda” Thurton. Coach Walter Salazar.

Police United FC: #01 Jamie Brooks (goalkeeper); #19 Byron “Barrow” Usher; #18 Frank Lopez; #15 Darien Myers; #12 Trevor “Burger” Lennen; #16 Danny Jimenez; #14 Andres Makin, Jr.; #10 Harrison “Cafu” Roches; #17 Devon Makin (#13 Amin “Tacos” August, Jr. at 82’); #8 Carlton “Fubu” Thomas (#5 Norman “Tilliman” Pipersburgh at 85’); #9 Lennox “Criminal” Castillo (#4 Orlando “Leechi” Jimenez at 59’). Coach – Hilberto Muschamp.

Referee: Christopher Reid.

Immediately following the game, the awards ceremony was held for the regular season and playoffs. Minister of Sports, Hon. Elodio Aragon had some remarks, after which he assisted PLB Manager, Wilhelm Miguel; FFB President, Ruperto Vicente; along with other veteran stars of the game, in issuing the individual and team awards, medals and trophies for the regular season and the championship.

Premier League of Belize individual awards for the Opening Season 2015-2016 were as follows:

Golden Glove – Jamie Brooks (Police United FC)

Golden Boots – Deon McCaulay (Verdes FC)

MVP Regular Season – Luis Torres (Placencia Assassins FC)

Best Midfielder – Denmark Casey, Jr. (Belmopan Bandits FC)

Best Defender – Dalton Eiley, Jr. (Placencia Assassins FC)

Best Coach – Hilberto Muschamp (Police United FC)

Best Young Player – Darien Myers (Police United FC)

Best Management – Police United FC

Fair Play – Belize Defence Force FC

Playoff MVP – Trevor Lennen (Police United FC)

Of course, the PLB Opening Season 2015-2016 Champion is the Police United Football Club; and sub-champion is Verdes FC.

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