The Father Duenas Memorial School Friars football team dominated all aspects of the Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam’s regular season game on Thursday night, but only managed a 1-1 draw against the Harvest Christian Academy Eagles, proving that FD is almost beatable.
Heading into the second round, at Toto, the Brothers held on to the two-game series advantage 1-0. But in that first encounter, where FD beat the Eagles 3-1, Harvest ruled out the maroon and gold in the second half, proving they could slow down the unbeaten brothers.
Twenty-two minutes into Thursday’s game, EJ Sablan of the Friars redirected a Nainoa Norton header past Harvest keeper Josiah Jones. After Sablan’s soft tapped shot rolled into the bottom right corner of the net, Harvest head coach Kevin Elwell switched goaltenders.
Traven Kaae, who had replaced Jones, played 58 minutes and stopped every shot he faced.
“I felt like the goal should have set the tempo,” Sablan said. “For me, I don’t think we played a good game.”
With the clock ticking in the first half, a minute into stoppage time, Harvest’s Justin Guilliod headed past Friars goalkeeper Jacob Toves. Guilliod, with a clear path to goal, waved his teammate, one of his best friends, Raito Atsuta, to kick the ball his way. Saluting the ball over a Brothers defender, Guilliod tied the game.
“If I’m being honest, I felt the rush and the adrenaline of that goal,” Guilliod said. “It was my first goal of the season, and I was – honestly – shocked.”
Guilliod, a 15-year-old sophomore, credited his team with the victory.
“I love our hunger, our commitment. I love our bustle – our defense is amazing, our offense is even better. Levi Buckwalter, David Thompson, Matt Hodgins, Caleb Elwell, all those guys, they’re amazing on the court and they know what they’re doing.
At halftime, with the game tied at 1-1, Sablan and Norton burst onto the pitch. Two minutes into the half, Norton fired a shot just over the crossbar. Six minutes later, Kaae saved one of Sablan’s shots, a ball headed just inside the left post.
With the clock showing two minutes remaining, the Friars’ Kane Bamba suffered what appeared to be a serious knee injury. Unable to get up and leave the pitch under his own power, the brother was helped to stand aside and taken to an ambulance.
When play resumed, Sablan had two more shot attempts disallowed. Disappointed with his performance and that of the Brothers, Sablan knows that FD will have to play better in the playoffs.
“We can’t take the ‘ship playing like this,” he said.
“I think I could have done a lot better. I’m not happy with tonight. It won’t happen again, I tell you,” Sablan said.