Utulei Youth hoisted the Futsal championship trophy after a thrilling, and ear-splitting final by outlasting Pago Youth 1 in a penalty shootout 2-1.
“It was a great game, very tough from the start and all the way to the end,” said Utulei Youth’s coach, Travis ‘Pita’ Sinapati. “Pago is one of the best teams on our island, and they made it very hard for us to win. This game could have gone either way, and fortunately for us, it came out in our favor.”
The final process to hoisting the trophy for the 2017 FFAS Futsal Tournament lasted almost 50 minutes. It started with two halves of 15 minutes each that ended in a 1-1 draw, followed by two equal halves of five minutes apiece for the extra periods that ended in a 2-2 draw, and finally to the penalty shootout that pushed the time up to almost 50 minutes.
The final day saw a slew of games with the 16 teams divided into four tiers based on their group standings. The top two teams of each bracket went into the championship pool, consisting of No. 1 Utulei Youth and No. 2 Pago Youth 1 from Pool 1, and their counterparts from Pool 2, Vaiala Tongan and Ilaoa & To’omata, respectively.
The other tiers were for fifth, ninth and 13th place on Monday, May 29, 2017 at the Samoana High School gymnasium in Utulei.
UTULEI YOUTH 2, PAGO YOUTH 1 2 (PENALTY SHOOTOUT 2-1)
Ne’emia Kaleopa, the 2017 Futsal Tournament’s MVP, started things off with a goal on the eight-minute mark. He stole the kick in pass, gave it off to the championship game’s MVP, Austin Kaleopa, who then passed it right back to Ne’emia, who then proceeded to blast it past the goalie for the score.
In the 16th minute of the match, just a few seconds into the opening kickoff of the second half, Gabriel Taumua took a loose ball, dribbled past Austin Kaleopa and shot it through Utulei Youth’s goalkeeper’s legs for the equalizer. That score would send the game into overtime.
In the first extra period, Austin Kaleopa received a loose ball, dribbled away from Taumua before shooting it into the far post for a 2-1 lead. However, with less than a buck 30 to play, Rambo Tapui would come up with his first of two equalizers to keep his team’s hopes for the title alive.
He blasted a cross from Fish Rocha into the back of the net for the 2-2 score that sent the game to a penalty shootout. In the shootout, Pago Youth 1 needed to tie the 1-0 showing by Utulei thanks to Austin Kaleopa’s successful attempt. Tapui extended the drama again with his successful penalty kick, because a miss would have given Utulei the win then and there.
Elama Fa’atonu would goal the eventual winner, but Utulei goalie, Peter Harrington, came up with the game winning save to clinch the title.
“I want to thank Pago Youth for a great game today, and we will now be looking forward to National League at the end of the year,” said the team’s coach, Sinapati.
Utulei now avenges their National League title loss to Pago Youth last year, stopping their streak in the 11-a-side game at two years in a row. They also lost 1-0 to Pago Youth 1 during pool play.
Pago Youth 1 dismantled Vaiala Tongan 5-1 in the semi-finals, while Utulei Youth held off Ilaoa & To’omata 4-2 to advance to the championship tier’s final.
5th PLACE TIER
The Tafuna Jets 1 beat Lion Heart A 2-0 in the final for 5th place in the tier that included the group’s 3rd and 4th placed teams.
The Jets 1 beat Royal Puma 3-1, and Lion Heart A beat Lion Heart B in the semi-finals of this tier.
9th PLACE TIER
Green Bay A won this tier by beating Green Bay B 5-3 in the final.
GBA won by forfeit against Pago Youth 2 while GBB beat the Tafuna Jets 2 2-1 thanks to an own goal from the latter. This tier was made up of teams finishing 5th and 6th in their pool competition.
13th PLACE TIER
Black Roses won this tier with a 4-1 showing against PanSa. Both teams advanced to the final with the former winning by forfeit over Vaitogi United, and the latter beating Taputimu Youth 3-2.
Vice-President and FIFA Council member Sandra Fruean, and FFAS executive member Amio Mavaega-Luvu, closed the tournament on behalf of the association and president, Senator Faiivae Iuli Alex Godinet.
Fruean thanked all the clubs and teams for their participation in the tournament.
FFAS CEO Tavita Taumua also thanked the teams, and informed the clubs that next up for the association is the annual Summer Youth League set for the first two weeks of July.