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CEMENTING its team name as champions of the Beck’s 5th Annual GFA Cup was a goal worth fighting for Sunday at the Guam Football Association facility in Harmon.
At the end of the night, it would be Guam Shipyard hoisting the large trophy in front of several camera flashes and Jason Cunliffe receiving the Player of the Game distinction. Guam Shipyard tripped up defending champions Quality Distributors FC 4-3 on a late goal by Cunliffe in extra time for the coveted title.
Shipyard’s Anthony Babauta, fighting to keep possession of the ball near midfield, was able to send the ball forward, drawing out Quality goalkeeper Brett Maluwelmeng. Cunliffe, already playing close to two hours, found the energy and speed to dart straight for the ball and win it against Maluwelmeng. With no whistle on the play, Cunliffe then ran with the ball toward the undefended goal alone for a wide-open shot. Quality’s Sam Setik sprinted toward the goal in an attempt to somehow block the shot but was a few steps too late.
With only a few minutes left in extra time, Shipyard was able to hold down Quality for the win.
Prior to 2012, Quality had won the GFA Cup championship three out of four times and has appeared in the tournament’s final match since its inaugural year. Shipyard had won the title in 2010, also beating Quality that year 4-3.
Both teams battled to a 3-3 draw by the end of regulation time. Quality struck first in the contest in the 31st minute. Maluwelmeng sent a goal kick past the midfield line that found teammate Scott Spindel. Battling against two defenders, Spindel sent the ball toward the center of the field, setting up Quality captain Matt Cruz for the blast past Shipyard’s keeper Kalen Lizama. Shipyard found an answer three minutes later when Donald Weakley connected on a corner kick from Francisco “Kiko” Santos past Maluwelmeng to even the contest.
Five minutes into the second half, Cruz put his team up 2-1, knocking in a pass he received from the right side, causing Quality fans in the stands to erupt in cheers and whistles. Quality held down Shipyard for a solid 25 minutes of aggressive play, playing tight defense following Cruz’s second goal of the night.
In the 75th minute, Shipyard’s Ajay Pothen found himself in the right place at the right time, getting his foot on a loose ball on a shot to tie the game again, as a handful of his teammates and Quality defenders bunched up near the goal following a corner kick.
With less than 10 minutes left in the game, a near fight ensued over rough play and the use of choice words in the heat of battle near Shipyard’s goal. Play was stopped on a handball violation in the box by Shipyard, setting up a penalty kick for Quality that drew jeers from the Shipyard team and fans. Spindel stepped up for Quality and didn’t disappoint, sending his shot to the right corner past a diving Lizama.
Shipyard’s Camden Aguon was the hero for his team in regulation time, scoring the late-game equalizer when he followed up on a blocked shot attempt off a free kick to keep his team in contention for the title.
Earlier in the evening, Cars Plus FC edged Fuji Ichiban Espada FC 3-2 to take third place in the tournament. Andre Gadia, Ian Mariano and Shawn Spindel scored for Cars Plus. Fuji Ichiban’s goals came from Gen Fudo and David John Cruz.
(Information obtained from a press release.)