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Vikings clinch Boys’ HS J-V championship

The Faga’itua Vikings clinched the high school boys’ J-V soccer championship thanks to a last minute goal against the Tafuna Warriors on Wednesday, May 3, 2017 at Pago Park Soccer Stadium.

Christopher Kitiona headed in the game-winning goal in the last minute of the game to break the 1-1 tie, avoiding a possible extra period and penalty shootout to determine this year’s champions.

Christopher Kitiona, right, of Faga’itua chases after the ball during the ASHSAA Boys’ J-V soccer championship game.

In the first half, Walter Pati scored for Tafuna 14 minutes into the game, and the goal came after the Warriors dominated the ball and territory.

After that the momentum started to shift slowly to Faga’itua, and it culminated in a score by Kitiona on a shot from inside the goalie’s six-yard box. That score came with only a minute to spare in the first half, and tying the game at 1-1.

With darkness looming, both coaches were looking at a penalty shootout to determine a winner, but Kitiona’s late-game heroics proved the difference maker for the Vikings.

A Faga’itua player made a perfect throw-in that went over the head of two defenders, and Kitiona himself. The defenders were caught flatfooted, allowing the Viking’s hero to chase after the ball on a one-v-one situation with Tafuna’s goalie. Kitiona headed the bouncing ball over the grasp of the Warrior’s goalkeeper, and into the back of the net for the win.

Because of the many cancellation of games this season due to transportation issues, a playoff format was added to the J-V division, instead of the usual crowning by best record. Teams were accorded seedings based on their completed games, and this had Samoana as the top team, followed by Tafuna, Leone, Faga’itua and Fa’asao-Marist.

As the top team in the postseason, Samoana was given a bye in the first round of the playoffs. That round was played on Saturday, April 29, 2017 with No. 4 Faga’itua beating No. 5 Fa’aso-Marist 3-0, while the Warriors edged the Lions 1-0.

Tafuna would advance to the final while the Vikings had to compete in another playoff game, this time against the Sharks, the league’s top seed and last year’s defending champions.

Henry ‘Milo’ Tiatia (right) of Tafuna with a successful tackle against Faga’itua’s Misipele Musu (left) during the ASHSAA Boys’ J-V soccer championship game.

Faga’itua got off to a great start against Samoana on May 1, 2017, leading 2-0 midway through the second half. But the Sharks came back and tied the game 2-2, and it stayed that way after the extra period.

In the penalty shootout that followed, the Vikings won it 4-3, with the kicks going to a sixth person each after the first five from both teams had it tied 3-3.

After playing in two playoff games, their hardwork paid off as the Vikings are now 2016-2017, boys’ J-V champs.

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