SAN PEDRO, AMBERGRIS CAYE, Sat. Feb. 18, 2017–The National Secondary Schools Sports Association (NSSSA) held its high school national football championships over two days, Friday and Saturday, February 17 & 18, out at San Pedro Ambergris Caye, where San Pedro High School (SPHS) hosted the tournament on the artificial turf of the newly refurbished Ambergris Stadium. And at the end of competition on Saturday, San Pedro High School girls and Belmopan Comprehensive School boys were crowned NSSSA Football Champions 2017.
After respective regional football competitions, female and male champion teams from the North, Central, West and South regions of the country all converged in San Pedro and participated in a simple knockout format, with first round winners going on to play for the championship, while the losers played for third place. The girls played 20 minute halves (40 minutes regulation), with 10 minutes of overtime where necessary; while the boys played 30 minute halves (60 minutes regulation), with also 10 minutes of overtime as needed.
In game 1 on Friday, Julian Cho Technical (SOUTH) and Belmopan Comprehensive (WEST) played to a 0-0 draw in regulation; but Julian Cho won, 2-0, in overtime. In game 2 on Friday night, it was San Pedro High (NORTH), 2-0, over Belize City champs, SCA (CENTRAL).
The consolation game for third place took place on Saturday morning, and saw BCS girls defeating SCA, 2-0, in overtime, after ending 0-0 in regulation. BCS goals were by Jayda Brown and Ashley Rodriguez.
Next was the championship final, and it was the hosts, San Pedro High School girls prevailing, 2-1, over Julian Cho High School girls. Dominga Tiul (4’) put Julian Cho in front, but Esther Galeano (10’ & 22’) responded with 2 goals for San Pedro.
Final tournament ranking for females: 1st place – San Pedro High School (SPHS); 2nd place – Julian Cho Technical High School (JCTHS); 3rd place – Belmopan Comprehensive School (BCS); and 4th place – St. Catherine Academy (SCA).
Female individual awards
Individual awards for females were swept by San Pedro High School:
Best Goalkeeper – Lisandra Novelo (SPHS)
Best Defender – Yazkari Jones (SPHS)
Best Midfielder – Ada Cordoba (SPHS)
Best Striker – Esther Galeano (SPHS)
Most Valuable Player – Ada Cordoba (SPHS)
With one notable and glaring exception, the games in the male tournament were very keenly contested. In game 1 on Friday, Belmopan Comprehensive (WEST) won in penalties, 4-2, over Stann Creek Ecumenical (SOUTH), after drawing 1-1 in regulation. After a scoreless first half, Jalen Myers (43’) put BCS in front with a free kick, but Jonard Castillo (50’) equalized with a header for Ecumenical. No goals were scored in overtime. In penalties, Alexander Scott, Jalen Myers, Charleston Gardiner and Ainsleigh Perez converted for BCS; while only Mark Samuels and Kendale Nunez scored for Ecumenical. In game 2, it was tit for tat between Orange Walk Technical (NORTH) and Gwen Lizarraga High (CENTRAL), until Orange Walk surged ahead for the 4-2 victory. Shaking the net for Orange Walk were Alejandro Novelo (7’ & 20’), Alexis Chan (43’) and Nazim Aldana (49’); while Gwen Liz goals were by Jadon McGregor (1’) and Keyron Patnett (33’).
The third-place game on Saturday morning was a shocker, as Ecumenical proceeded to bomb Gwen Liz, 9-1, after Gwen Liz had taken an early lead on a goal by Shamar Molina. Ecumenical came roaring back with goals from Hassan Serano (13’), Jonard Castillo (17’, 35’ & 39’), Donell Arzu (19’), Izon Gill (24’ PK), Latrell Middleton (37’), Arlen Nunez (49’) and Mark Samuels (59’).
In the championship final, Belmopan Comprehensive clipped Orange Walk Tech, 4-3, in penalties, after they had ended 1-1 in regulation, with no goals in overtime. Alexis Chan (2’) gave Orange Walk the early lead, but Jalen Myers equalized before half-time from the penalty spot for Compre. In the penalty shootout, BCS got goals from Alexander Scott, Jalen Myers, Charleston Gardiner and Steven Gentle; while Orange Walk scores were by Nazim Aldana, Alejandro Novelo and Andir Chi.
Final tournament ranking for males: 1st place – Belmopan Comprehensive School (BCS); 2nd place – Orange Walk Technical High School (OWTHS); 3rd place – Stann Creek Ecumenical High School (SCEHS); and 4th place – Gwen Lizarraga High School.
Male individual awards
Individual awards for males were:
Best Goalkeeper – Kenny Gonzalez (BCS)
Best Defender – Ainsleigh Perez (BCS)
Best Midfielder – Alejandro Novelo (OWTHS)
Best Striker – Jonard Castillo (SCEHC)
Most Valuable Player – Alexander Scott (BCS)
(Information and pictures courtesy William Ysaguirre)