BELMOPAN, Wed. Feb. 21, 2018– Fans swarmed into the Isidoro Beaton Stadium on Sunday, February 18, to witness the second leg of the Belmopan Football Association (BFA) Amateur 1st Division 2017-18 Opening Season Finals between Valley United FC and Club Atletico. Before the hostilities got underway, there was the matter of finding out which was the third best team in the competition. In that game, an underperforming Coast Guard FC fell to Cavetubing.Bz Strikers, 4 goals to 1. Cavetubing got a trophy and a $750 cash award for their third place finish, while the Coast Guard settled for $500 and a trophy.
In the cool of the evening and more threatening rain (it had rained earlier), fans marveled at a beautiful rainbow which stretched across the sky, perhaps a sign from the Higher Power that there would be no more rain today, and the grand finale between Club Atletico and Valley United FC could be enjoyed uninterrupted by the roughly one thousand four hundred fans who were gathered inside the friendly confines of the Isidoro Beaton Stadium. With their first game having ended 0-0, no team had an advantage coming into this one, and it certainly turned out to be a long drawn out showdown.
The game started on a very high tempo, with both teams pressuring for a goal, but from early on it was noticeable that Valley United FC displayed more desire to get the job done. In the 35th minute, Valley United’s Arlin Bautista delivered a corner kick that sailed untouched across the goal to a waiting Arnoldo de la Rosa, who smacked it into an open net with his right foot. Confetti flew into the air, horns erupted, and the Valley fans screamed “GOAL!!!” in jubilation. Valley held on to the 1-0 lead to end the first half.
The second half started with Atletico on the attack, and six minutes in they tied the score 1-1 when Arnold Guevarra served table on top of the eighteen-yard box to Mikey Madrid, who took advantage of a stumbling de la Rosa to break free and volley home a beautiful shot that left goalkeeper Dueck frozen.
At the end of 90 minutes the game remained deadlocked, and as per the tournament regulations we were now headed to overtime. A rehydrated Valley United wasted no time to get their offense going after the restart. Two minutes in, Onan Maldonado got past Marcos Lino in defense atop of the eighteen yards box but was forced right by Atletico sweeper Richard Gillett as he entered the penalty zone. As Gillett attempted to close him down, Maldonado got off a weak rolling shot toward goal that somehow slipped through Orlando Galdamez’s hands, and legs, and trickled across the goal line. In disbelief, Galdamez punched the turf, while Valley United FC and their fans, celebrated!
2-1 down, Club Atletico made every attempt to tie the score. The hearts of Valley United’s fans stopped for a second when Tivi Ramos’s header off a corner kick deflected off the back of Arlin Bautista and the resulting roller headed toward the goal line, but Dueck with a last minute leap was able to keep the ball out and their hearts started pounding again as they celebrated the heroic effort that kept Valley United ahead 2-1.
In a last minute effort, George Hidalgo mounted an individual attack off the right. He cut to his left and delivered a left footed bomb, which goalkeeper Dueck tipped over the crossbar to solidify his position as the hero of the day and the Man of the Match.
A short while later, Referee Allen Botes looked at his watch, pointed to the center of the field, and blew the final whistle of the game, bringing the 17/18 Opening Season Tournament to an end. Valley United, deservedly so, were crowned Champions, whilst a devastated Club Atletico (formerly named AC Milan) had to settle for their third consecutive second place finish in the tournament. Valley United FC took home the First Place trophy and $2,500.00 for their heroic effort, whilst Club Atletico took home $1,250.00 along with the Second Place trophy.
Stephen Martinez (Coast Guard) won the Most Goals award for his 14 goals during the regular season; Orlando Galdamez (Club Atletico) earned himself the Best Goalkeeper, conceding only 5 goals during the regular season, to beat out Randy Dueck who conceded 6. Richard Gillett and Marlon Mirando of Club Atletico were voted Best Defender and Best Midfielder, respectively. The MVP of the Playoffs was the creative David Lopez of Valley United FC. Valley United FC’s Cristian Franco and Baltazar Martinez won the Best Coach/Manager award, and Valley United FC won the Panya Man Award for the Best and Most Passionate Fans. Finally, Allen Botes was voted the Best Referee for the season.
The BFA hereby expresses a heartfelt Thank You to everyone who assisted or contributed in making the 17/18 Opening Season a huge success… We look forward to your continued support in the 17/18 Closing Season, which is scheduled to commence in April 2018.
BFA….IT’S NOT HOW BIG YOU ARE; IT’S HOW BIG YOU PLAY!