Pago Youth A: Back-To-Back champions
(PRESS RELEASE) — Pago Youth A are the men’s 2011 FFAS National League, back-to-back champions after holding off Vailoatai Youth 3-1 in the final at Pago Park Soccer Stadium on Saturday, December 17, 2011.
“We are extremely happy about this win and also to have won it two years in a row,” exclaimed Pago Youth soccer club president, Silasila Samuelu. “We thank the boys for making this one possible.”
Not only are they men’s champs, they are also the women’s champions (read separate story), beating Utulei Youth in a shootout for the win.
In the match for 3rd place, Pago B held off Vaitogi United 3-2 to finish third and fourth, respectively.
“One great thing about our team is that the majority of them are some of the top players in our island,” said coach and vice-president for the club, Ailao Tualaulelei Sr. “About seven of them have player for American Samoa’s national team so I didn’t have to worry too much about how good they are.”
Vailoatai Youth on the other hand, Tualaulelei pointed out, are a young club with a few numbers of experienced players on their squad compared to Pago A.
“They have two great players in Tafa (Ioapo) in the back and Ryan (Petaia) in the front,” he said. “But they have a lot of very good young players that I know will make their team a dangerous one for our next competition.”
Tualaulelei said he told his players to mark Vailoatai’s players closely because they are a running team and are very fast.
“That was our strategy against this running team, to mark them man-to-man and just basically stick to them like glue,” he said.
That worked for them as Pago A dominated possession and territory in the first half, with attack after attack eventually leading to a 13th minute goal from the eventual MVP for the competition, Rambo Tapui.Despite winning the possession and territorial battles, Pago Youth still could not rack up the score as Vailoatai played great defensively.
In the second half Fitiuta Maiava headed a corner kick past the goalie for a 2-0 lead in the 49th minute.
However, a great, Vailoatai passing movement that started from the back saw Ryan Petaia go one-on-one with a defender to produce a magnificent side-footed finish for a 2- 1 score. But it was not to be as Tapui was fouled in the penalty area with Maiava scoring on the PK in the 77th minute.
“It has been a great year and I want to thank all the teams that participated for making it a fun one,” Tualaulelei said. “There are a lot of pretty good up and coming teams so it is not going to get any easier for us.”
He said that one of those teams is Vaitogi United, having a lot of young, skilled players.
“I want to acknowledge Vaitogi United because they are a new team and club, just joining us this year and they made it all the way to the playoffs while other teams that have been competing for a while did not,” he said. “I talked to their president and coaches and told them to keep it up.”
Another team he did not mention was his Pago B squad, consisting mostly of high school students but showing promise of maybe one day beating their A team in the near future.
“We have a host of people to thank for helping our team out,” Samuelu said. “First we would like to thank our Senator, Paramount Chief Mauga Asuega and Senator Asuega Fa’amamata Lauvai.
“Our thanks also go out to FFAS, our President Iuli Alex Godinet, the executive committee and the CEO (Tavita Taumua) and staff for their great work,” he added.
“Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everybody,” concluded Tualaulelei.
FFAS Vice-President Sandra Herrera was on hand to hand out the trophies on behalf of President Iuli Alex Godinet to the teams and also congratulated all for a hard-fought season.
The president sent his congratulations to Pago A for winning the men’s National League championship.