Jets upset Utulei for outdoors title
The Tafuna Jets upset the playoff favorites Utulei Youth 2-1 in a thrilling and exciting championship game of the 2012 Men’s FFAS 5-A-Side Outdoors Tournament on June 23, 2012 at Pago Park Soccer Stadium.
In the game for 3rd place, Pago Youth B beat Black Roses 5-2.
These two teams — Utulei and the Jets — also played for the title in 2009 with Utulei coming out on top. This time around Tafuna managed to hold on to stop a repeat performance from Utulei.
Going into the championship game Utulei was the team to beat after creaming the competition in Pool A for the top seed. In the semi-finals they took out Pago B 8-3.
Tafuna, on the other hand, has pulled through with scrappy wins all tournament-long, never winning by more than three goals. They took the No. 1 seed in Pool B after going through with only one draw and no losses.
In the semi-final, they fought hard for a 4-1 win over Black Roses, a result that was up in the air until the final three minutes of the match and this set up a No. 1 vs. No. 1 title game, which also featured two teams that had not lost all tournament long.
Utulei had been tabbed by many in the association as the champions-to-be due to their methodical play led by their little general, and Player of the Tournament, Kaleopa Siligi.
Siligi was the key for Utulei during the whole tournament as he helped set up teammates to score and they scored in bunches because of him. But the Jets marked him well as every time he received the ball a defender was on him and forced Siligi out of his rhythm by playing physical against the smallest player on the field.
Another Jets defender that marked Siligi well was Mathew Mariota as he, Luani and Leasiolagi all contributed in stopping him and the other explosive Utulei players such as Peter Harrington, Ne’emia Kaleopa, Meafou Kaleopa and J.P. Fa’avae.
But come the final Tafuna’s scrappy play held out until the end despite Utulei’s leading goal-scorer Harrington putting them up on the board first with a great sliding goal 12 minutes into the match.The Jets kept their composure as team captain Mafutaga Leasiolagi directed things from the back and led by example with stellar defensive play throughout the match. Roy Luani meanwhile was all over the place, successfully neutralizing Siligi and then going on the attack and nearly scoring several times.
Luani’s feistiness would pay off as he helped set up Sam ‘Pili’ Taulealo for the equalizer and winning goal to snatch the championship trophy for themselves. Luani would be named the MVP of the championship game.
Taulealo scored his first goal with only seven seconds to go in the first half to tie it up 1-1 going into the break.
In the second period, he scored a little less than two minutes to put the Jets up for good.
As for Utulei, they missed many scoring chances as they gave Tafuna a good run for their money in those last 18 minutes of the last half. Another culprit in denying goals was the Jets’ goalie KB Mariota who also put out an excellent performance.
“It was a great game to end a great tournament,” said FFAS President Iuli Alex Godinet after handing out the awards himself. “Congratulations to all the teams that participated and remember this is just the lead up to our upcoming National League in August.”
PanSa’s D’Angelo Herrera was given the Golden Boot award for scoring the most goals in the tournament (not including the playoffs).
Source: FFAS Media