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ISA SOCCER FINALS SET: GECKOS VS. ISLANDERS

#4 GW vs. #3 JFK this Saturday

By Patrick Lujan

In a tightly contest ISA Boys Soccer League season, the lower ranked teams advanced to Saturday’s championship game, but don’t call the semifinals upsets.

The 4th-ranked GW Geckos pulled off a win over the top-ranked Southern Dolphins 3-1 in penalty kicks while the #3 JFK Islanders edged the #2 Okkodo Bulldogs 3-2 Wednesday night.

The Geckos and Islanders take to the pitch for the ISA title on Saturday at 6:30 pm at the GW Field.

The winner will then play in the GSPN Champion vs. Champion game on Monday at 6 pm at the Guam High Field where the IIAAG champion Father Duenas Friars await.

GW def. Southern

In the first semis earlier in the evening at the JFK Field, #4 beat #1, but don’t call it a surprise since the Geckos beat the Dolphins twice in the regular season (2-1 and 1-0).

“The boys did what they were always supposed to do and executed,” GW third-year coach Aaron Sumbang said. “The third matchup, we knew they were going to bring it to us.”

With two close wins under their belt against the top-seeded Dolphins, Coach Sumbang changed up the formula heading into the semifinals, knowing full well that another close match is highly possible.

“In comparison to the regular season, we tried to use a more defensive shape,” Sumbang explained the strategy. “Since we knew it could be close with the possibility of going into a shootout, we practiced our PKs this week and it paid off.”

The Geckos took a 2-0 lead going into the break with the Dolphins not liking the tempo.

“The first half was not pretty,” said Southern coach Stephen Meno. “The tempo and climate of the game was out of hand due to the lack of calls and officiating from the two-man ref system.”

The Dolphins managed to tie the game at 2-2 with both goals scored by Ethan Rioja to force the shootout. GW came up big hitting 3-of-4 PKs while Southern punched in only one.

“Our number one thing is to pick a post. Never just blast it down the middle,” Sumbang explained the team’s PK approach. “Either the left or right side.”

Kyle Garcia and Shuntaro Suzuki both scored in regulation and in the shootout for the Geckos.

JFK def. Okkodo

Freshman Landon Cruz scored two goals and the Islanders jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead before hanging on to eliminate the feisty Bulldogs 3-2.

Cruz dropped in a quick goal on the fifth minute, while Dave San Agustin fired in a shot just two minutes later for the super fast 2-0 lead. Cruz kicked in his second goal of the match on the 17th minute. CJ Sablan was credited with two assists.

“Landon stepped up his game today,” long-time JFK coach Lad Manansala said. “He’s a quiet kid, but he was huge for us today.”

Okkodo made it close with goals by Bryant Ignacio in the 30th and 60th minutes, but couldn’t cross the goal from then on.

Championship Match

So it will be the Islanders and Geckos on Saturday with the winner representing the ISA in the Champion vs. Champion game just two days later.

“GW’s the only team that beat Southern three times this season,” coach Manansala said. “We just have to tighten up our defense and keep the ball on their side of the field. They scored two quick goals today, so we can’t let that happen against us.”

In the regular season, the Islanders beat the Geckos twice (2-1 and 4-0). However, both games GW was not fully healthy.

‘With those two games, all of my main lineup players, a lot of them were injured, but when we went up against Southern, I had my full lineup ready,” coach Sumbang said. “I’ll find out tomorrow at practice. From the looks of things, our top players are ready for Saturday.”

It’s been a pretty remarkable turnaround for GW. In his first year as a coach just two seasons ago, Sumbang and the Geckos were 0-10-0. Now they’re playing for the league title and possibly the crown of the island’s best if they advance to play the Friars on Monday.

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COMING SOON …

DPR Liberation Village Baseball Tournament

Paris Olympics

QUICK HITS

Guahan Juniors 18s outside hitter Masato Rabago and Guahan Juniors 16s middle blocker Antonio Egurrola both earned All-Tournament awards at last month’s USA Volleyball Boys Junior National Championship in Dallas, Texas.
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Captain Adam San Gil, along with his crew Dominick San Gil and Mark Domingo, took first place in the Mahi Mahi division aboard the Amber Marie in the 40th Saipan Invitational Fishing Derby.
The winning Mahi weighed 23.9 lbs. The crew took 3rd in the Bonita division (14 lbs) and 4th in the Marlin division (123.5 lbs).
Seventeen boats from Guam competed in Saipan’s big derby.

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