BELIZE CITY, Mon. May 20, 2019– Trailing defending champions, Bandits Sport by a 1-goal margin following the Bandits’ 1-nil home victory against the San Pedro Pirates in game 1 of the Premier League of Belize (PLB) championship finals series at the Isidoro Beaton Stadium a week earlier, the Pirates needed a 2-goal margin of victory at home against the Bandits on Saturday night to clinch their first PLB title; and that they did in dramatic fashion in front of a packed Ambergris Stadium.
It was nil-nil at the half, which was to Bandits’ advantage, as a nil-nil final would result in their 10th championship; but the Pirates were getting the better of the Bandits in the critical midfield area, where attacks are generally orchestrated; and as the game progressed in second half, with energetic San Pedro fans chanting and waving for their team, the momentum seemed to be in favor of the home team. Argentinean striker Facundo Garnier received a fine pass from recently inserted Wilber Ayala, and Garnier beat advancing Bandits goalie, Shane Orio from close range to put San Pedro up 1-nil at the 67th minute, making it a series aggregate 1-1 tie, and the championship clearly on the line the rest of the way. Pirates’ captain and midfield general Jesse Smith was the hub of the San Pedro attack, cooling things off and changing the play as he searched for open spaces in the Bandits defense. Indeed, despite the threatening long ball attacks by the Bandits, the consistent and well-orchestrated midfield play development was tilted in favor of the home team, which resulted in a number of corner kicks. It was on one of these corners that Garnier’s well-placed drive saw Pirates’ tall Brazilian defender Mailson Moura running from outside the eighteen to surprise Bandits’ defenders as he met the corner in full flight on the right side of the penalty spot, and sent a hard header that sailed under the cross bar and into the net at the 76th minute. Goaallll!! San Pedro fans went wild with excitement. It was now a 2-1 aggregate lead, and the championship was theirs if they could hold on for 24 minutes. And that they did, as San Pedro Pirates FC became the PLB 2018-2019 Closing Season Champions, the first national championship in the history of the San Pedro Club.
After the game, awards were handed out for the recently completed regular season as well as the champion and sub-champion trophies and Playoff MVP trophy.
PLB 2018-2019 Closing Season awards:
Golden Glove – Rodrigo Vasquez (Verdes FC)
Best Defender – Dalton Eiley (Bandits Sport)
Best Midfielder – Jesse Smith (San Pedro Pirates FC)
Best Young Player – Warren Moss (Wagiya Sporting Club)
Best Goal Scorer (4-way tie) – Andres Orozco (Assassins Altitude FC); Highking Roberts (Wagiya Sporting Club); Elroy Smith (Verdes FC); Camilo Sanchez (BDF FC)
Fair Play – BDF FC
Best Coach – Jorge Nunez (San Pedro Pirates FC)
Best Manager – Tony Maldonado (San Pedro Pirates FC)
Broadcasting Award – TNC 10
Regular Season MVP – Georgie Welcome (Bandits Sport)
Playoff MVP – Facundo Garnier (San Pedro Pirates FC)